Apple executives give details about the changes coming to the Photos app in iOS 18

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One app getting a new look in iOS 18 is the Photos app. Three Apple executives sat down to discuss the redesigned app with The National. The trio consisted of Jon McCormack, vice president for camera and photos at Apple’s software engineering team, Della Huff, manager of camera and photos at Apple’s product marketing team, and Billy Sorrentino, senior director at Apple’s human interface design unit.

The redesigned Photos app will be found on iOS 18, iPadOS 18 and MacOS Sequoia and will be powered by Apple Intelligence. The latter is what the company is calling its first dive into the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Sorrentino, talking about the AI-based Photos app, said, “As our features, users, and libraries have grown, so has the density of the [Photos] app. So rather than hunt and peck throughout, we’ve created a simple streamlined single view photos experience based on deep intelligence.” Everything that Apple is doing to the Photos app is being done with one goal in mind and Sorrentino says, “Ultimately, we wanted to remove friction.”

A new security-based feature for the Photos app was discussed by McCormack who said, “We make it very clear that when an application goes and uses an API [application programming interface] for the first time, we’ll inform the user exactly what that app is asking for.” If an app requests full access to your library of photos, you’ll be able to “create a special little sub-catalogue” for that app. Developers will also be able to use a “whole robust set” of APIs that will help them improve their apps.

Apple has previously said that the Photos app will undergo its “biggest-ever redesign” with the iOS 18 update. The app, along with Safari and Mail, is one of the most-used apps on iOS. Features coming to the app include a new single-grid UI with the month and year listed underneath to make it easier to find a photo or video taken on a specific date. A new Collections feature will organize photos and videos by topic or theme. Consider it to be the upgraded version of the current Memories feature that stores images and videos by event, people, or theme.

Discussing the customizations, Apple’s Huff says, “Lots of deep intelligence combined with customization means that Photos can be more personal. Everyone has a different workflow and so automatic customization is really key here.” While this wasn’t mentioned by any of the three Apple executives, an AI feature for the Photos app called “Clean Up” is expected to allow iPhone users to circle unwanted distractions from an image and the distraction will disappear. It is similar to the Magic Eraser feature that Google originally brought to Pixel handsets. Google has since made it available on a limited basis to other Android handsets and iOS through the Google Photos app.

While the iOS 18 developer beta is currently available, the public beta should launch sometime this month. The stable, final version of iOS 18 is expected to be released in September.


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