When iOS 7 hits the streets this fall, the camera app will see major changes, the impact of which should affect almost every iOS owner given the popularity of picture taking. A quick look at Flickr reveals the top three most popular cameras are iPhones that include the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5. All of which are scheduled to receive iOS 7. Making a change to the heart that pumps out these photos is a pretty big deal. Read for what you can expect from the new iOS 7 camera app.

iOS 7 Camera app

As we’ve seen with the other Apple apps, Camera gets an entirely new icon. Gone is that almost 3D lens set against a gradient gray background. It’s been replaced with a stark, simple black silhouette of a camera, with a small yellow dot to represent some type of sensor. The gray background helps to keep some familiarity between these two.

New camera icon iOS 7

Accessing the camera in iOS 7

The best camera is the one you have with you. A saying that’s overused, but entirely true. Most folks always have their phone and the quality of images coming from iPhones has done nothing but improve in recent years. With iOS 7, Apple has vastly improved upon accessibility. When iOS 6 launched, you could access the camera app from the homescreen by waking your iPhone with the power/sleep button and swiping up from the camera icon. This was in response to Android and Windows Phone devices that featured easy access using a dedicated button. Apple’s not about to start cluttering up the hardware with buttons. It’s not in their DNA.

iOS 7 camera access from lock screen

In previous versions, you’d see an animation of a lens opening. This takes anywhere from 1-2 seconds, regardless of whether you’ve had the application open. Having an active 22 month old, I can tell you that 2 seconds is the difference between capturing a good image and not. In iOS 7, the Camera app does away with the aperture animation. Instead you get quick and easy access to taking pictures. It’s sounds basic and it is, but it’s a major improvement. Times will vary depending upon your iPhone model, but expect it to be lightning fast on an iPhone 5 and the new iPhone 5S rumored for later this fall.

iOS 7 camera app vs iOS 6

Apple has completely redesigned apps from the inside-out. iOS 7 isn’t just a coat of paint, with the same apps inside. Simple improvements to the UI on the Camera app include removing button-like backgrounds for the flash and camera orientation. At the top, you’ll see that Apple has removed ‘Options’ , which had been used for accessing HDR, Panorama and turning the Grid On/Off.

The bottom bar is a flat black. Again, a laser focus on simplicity. The familiar Camera Roll icon to the left for accessing your images from within the app. The circular shooting icon returns, but is now white and the camera icon was removed. To the right is a new filters option, replacing the switch for moving between shooting images or video.

Switch shooting modes in iOS 7

Just above this black bar is your shooting mode. This is one of my favorite features in the iOS 7 version of Camera. HDR and Panorama had been hidden away in options. Honestly, I’m sure there are more than a handful of folks who have never taken a panoramic photo with their iPhone, simply because they did not know the feature existed. When in any shooting mode, HDR appears faded just above your shooting Previously imprisoned in Options, this should get more usage, with a simple tap enabling HDR images. To move between shooting modes, you swipe left or right. This includes the three shooting modes (Photo, Square and Pano). Square is a new format and will likely appeal to those who like the look of square images. When combined with the new filters, the app acts very much like Instagram. For someone who never loved the toggle switch for Video/Camera, swiping right to access Video is big winner in my book. Ultimately, Camera in iOS 7 is about improved access and making it easier to take photos and capture important moments.

iOS 7 camera mode square

iOS 7 Camera Filters

Instagram has roughly 130 million users. These are folks that have gravitated to the social sharing of squared off, heavily filtered imagery of food, selfies and every day happenings in their life. Point being, people love the format. Not every iPhone user is on Instragram, so now these people get to partake in the fun. There are some differences between the two. With Camera, you are not adding a filter to a previously shot photo. Tap once on the filter and you can see the results in the preview as you frame your photo. Take the shot and it’ll have that filter. If you shot with Mono (B&W), there is no color information which was saved with the shot. This is a bit of a mixed bag. Some won’t mind it, but others will still look to third party processing apps, so their original image and all the valuable pixels remain. Here are the included filters in iOS 7:

iOS 7 Camera filters

  • Mono
  • Tonal
  • Noir
  • Fade
  • Chrome
  • Process
  • Transfer
  • Instant

At any time, tapping on the center rectangle will revert back to the no-filter option.

When you upgrade to iOS 7, it’ll be like getting a new phone. One that will give you faster access to the camera app with a completely redesigned and simplified user interface. The shooting menu will make it easier to switch modes, including the new square format. When used with the included filter set, this acts somewhat like an Instagram replacement, without being tied to a social network. As we wrote in our iPhone 5 review, the camera on the iPhone is “nothing short of remarkable”. Hardware is only half of the equation. When you couple it with the improvements to accessibility and access, you have a great upgrade and that’s exactly what you can expect when iOS 7 is released later this fall.