About Thomas Fitzgerald

Thomas is a professional fine art photographer and writer specialising in photography related instructional books as well as travel writing and street photography. 

Thoughts on Last Weeks Apple Announcements from a Photographer's perspective

Thoughts on Last Weeks Apple Announcements from a Photographer's perspective

I must confess to being an unashamed Apple fan. I've been buying Apple products and following the company's developments since my first Mac, a PowerPC 7100 (remember them?) It was using a Mac that first got me into using Photoshop and graphics, and without it, probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today. Needless to say then, I'm always interested Apple's new announcements, and in particular how they relate to my fields of Photography and Design. Last week's keynote had lots of exciting potential for Photographers, so I'll share my thoughts (in a somewhat random order) on these developments and how I feel they may impact photography.

(By the way, if you're not an Apple fan, you might want to turn away now!)

New iPhones

I'll talk about the last announcement first. The new iPhones that Apple showcased had two obvious features aimed at photographers, those being the new sensor in the camera, and the new "Live Photos" feature.

 iPhone 6s and 6s Plus - Image Courtesy of Apple

The new Live Photos feature looks interesting, and I'm curious to see it in action. If you haven't seen this already, basically the new iPhones give you the option of taking a "live photo" when you take a normal photo. This takes a sequence of shots before and after you press the shutter button and then puts them together in what is kind of like an animated gif (although it uses a variation of JPEG apparently) When viewing an image, you see the static photo until you press (hard) on the image to see the "live" version.

The initial temptation is to think of this as a gimmick, and to write it off as such, but it's hard to know at this stage. You never know what's going to resonate with the general public. Sometimes things that you think are silly, take off. For example, who would have thought that selfies would become such a big thing. When twitter came out, a lot of people thought that was a gimmick too. It may well turn out to be a feature that no one uses, but, then again, maybe it will be a big hit. The one thing I will say about it is that I've seen similar effects in several science fiction shows and movies over the years, so someone at some point though that this would be the future.

As for the new camera, it certainly looks interesting. The extra megapixels will be welcome so long as it's not at the expense of image quality, which I doubt it is considering how long it took them to get to 12mp. Some of the images shown in the keynote were impressive, especially the shot of the girl at the window on the ferry. There’s a gallery of photos from the new iPhones up on Apple’s website where you can get a better look at them. Again, it's hard to really pass judgement on the camera at this point, but as the camera on the iPhone 6 is already pretty impressive, I can only imagine the one on the new 6s will be even better.

Apple TV

 The New Apple TV - Image Courtesy of Apple

While there wasn't much about the new AppleTV and the new TV OS that was directed directly at photographers, there was one thought that struck me while watching the keynote. The new Apple TV with its app store will be great for companies that do training videos. Hopefully, we will see native Apple TV apps for online training providers such as Kelby One and Lynda.com.

While I currently watch training from these on my TV via the corresponding iPad apps, the process is a bit clunky (as many times the apps go to sleep and cut out mid-video) so it will be great to have Apple TV apps for these

iPad Pro

 The New iPad Pro  - Image Courtesy of Apple

For me, the most exciting announcement from the keynote was the new iPad Pro. I think this will be a genuine game changer, and I can't wait to get my hands on one for real. I think the combination of the larger sceen, and more importantly the improved innards, will make the iPad viable for creation. Now, I know people have been using iPads creatively all along, but I think that the new ones should be far less limiting. The amount of ram reported to be in the iPad Pro alone is a big deal (as far as iPads go) and this should remove the limitations when it comes to editing larger images on the iPad.

The Apple Pencil should also prove a big boon to creatives wanting to work on the iPad. All the reports from the demo area after the keynote expressed admiration for the lack of lag when using the pencil. Lag has long been an issue with using on-screen styluses for drawing and retouching. Even high end devices like the Cintiq can have lag, so if Apple's reduced it as much as they claim, this will be very impressive. fine retouching and airbrushing should be possbe with this setup on the iPad Pro should there be apps released to take advantage of it.

 The iPad Pencil - Image Courtesy of Apple

Of course there are still some big issues with using iPads for photography, that won't be addressed by the larger iPad Pro, and these need to be looked at from the operating system level. The biggest issue, being the way images are imported into the iPAd. the camera connection options are seriously limited, and the way the iPad imports raw and jpeg pairs or even just raw files needs to be improved. While more and more cameras are adding wifi too, some will only let you transfer jpegs over wifi, or are very slow. There's also a confusing mish-mash of camera specific apps for importing via wifi. What really needs to happen is for someone to create a standard and protocol for sending images over wifi for importing into image editing software.

Apple Watch

 The Apple Watch, Watch OS 2  - Image Courtesy of Apple

I had just one thought about the Apple Watch while watching the keynote. The mention of the GoPro app got me thinking that this might be very interesting for other companion camera apps. Several camera manufacturers make iOS apps that allow remote live view and remote shutter, so it would be interesting to have these extend to the Apple Watch too. I would imagine that there is some degree of lag though, which depending on how much of a delay there is could limit the usefulness.

Apple News

One of the things that wasn’t really mentioned at the keynote was the new News App for iOS 9. I’ve signed up to be a publisher for this, and will be publishing this blog to the Apple News format, however there is one little problem. For reasons best known to Apple they’re geo-locking this feature, at least initially. Apple News is only going to be available in a select few countries at launch, so while I can publish to it, I can’t actually see the results, as Ireland isn’t included in the list. I’m really not sure why they’re doing this. I can’t think of a single newspapaer or magazine from any where in the world that geo-locks their content. I can only assume it is to slow the laod on Apple’s serviers initially, but it seems like an unnecessary limitiation.


All Apple Product images Courtesy of Apple


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