The way I'm hearing it, Apple's very serious about photography, specifically it is working hard to make sure the best camera you always want with you will be your iPhone, even if it is not already.
The new iPhoneographers
Phone photography is already so prevalent it has spawned its very own word, iPhoneography, while the photography-focused improvements within iOS 7 and the iPhone 5S show the company is embracing the trend.
Sure, there are other smartphones that sport more megapixels, such as the Sony Xperia Z1 with its 20.7-megapixel camera sensor. Sony's smartphone does take excellent images. What's a firm to do when it faces such competition?
"We want it to get smarter and better at taking phenomenal pictures," said Apple VP, Phil Schiller, during the iPhone 5S announcement.
Apple has woven in a few distinct advantages to help ensure the camera it has in the iPhone 5S is compelling, such as an aperture of f/22, True Tone flash, continuous burst mode and more). Apple also adds iCloud and social networking support and iPhoto to the mix as it strives to ensure customers understand the number of megapixels it offers are less important than what your device can do with those megapixels.
"Our competitors just stick more resolution in their devices and say that makes them better," said Schiller (paraphrased). "We know different, we know that bigger pixels make a bigger picture."
Apple knows that software and component collaboration count. TechCrunch's revelation that Apple has acquired SnappyLabs illustrates this.
The whole widget
Publishers of the SnappyCam app, SnappyLabs is developer, John Papandriopoulos, who managed to tweak the iPhone to take full-resolution images at 20-30 frames per second. He's achieved this by building software that fully exploits features within the ARM processor architecture.
What he achieved is to develop a processor specific iOS software solution designed to achieve much more from existing camera components than was previously possible. 20-30fps combines with 6x digital zoom and other enhancements -- there's a good clear article here).
When baked at the core of the OS on a 64-bit Apple device we may see even moe significant improvements. You can anticipate higher frame rates, better digital zoom and much more.
The company is hatching other plans. For example, a November 2013 patent discussed technology that enables you to refocus an image after it is captured (plenoptic imaging). The patent also explained a technology to allow digital cameras to operate with zero shutter delay.
You'll see that most of Apple's photographic improvements come down to intelligent management of hardware and software. Apple is able to ensure it gets best in class results in this struggle because it manufactures both the hardware and the software. This enables it to fully exploit the hardware, as Papandriopoulos achieved with SnappyCam.
Apple hasn't told us how much it spent acquiring the app, but it seems clear it is ready to invest in good photography solutions for iPhones. In future your smartphone will deliver images better than you previously expected from a pro SLR.
Also read: iOS 7 tips: taking better iPhone photos
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