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This article was published on June 19, 2016

Apple doesn’t understand photography

Apple doesn’t understand photography
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Story by

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

Founder & board member, TNW

Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

The most innovative thing Apple did with their Photo app recently was the addition of a ‘Selfie’ filter. You can find the folder in your Photos app, and yeah, it is filled with Selfies.

Apart from that Apple still thinks we use photography as we did it 30 years ago: we go on a trip, take a bunch of photos then struggle with how to show our friends these photos when we get back from our trip.

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Wifi password

Well, I’ve got news for you Apple; that’s maybe 1% of photography, and not really an issue most of us deal with.

What is the problem that needs fixing? It is that photography is changing. I showed my girlfriend some tiny text on the back of a credit card. Without hesitating she pulled out her camera, took a photo, and then zoomed in on the photo to read the text.

The camera in your iPhone is a zoom in device for small text or objects.

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Cup of tea

I was bicycling along the canals with my teenage daughter when she spotted a ‘missing cat’ poster. She pulled out her phone, took a photo of the poster without looking twice, and put the phone back into her pocket. I said ‘That’s pretty smart’ and she replied; ‘Well how else are we going to remember all that information if we ever find that cat?’

The camera in your iPhone is a memorization device.

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Healthy breakfast

The camera in your iPhone is also a mirror. Something to quickly check how you look, how your ass looks (not big at all!) or if you’ve got something stuck in your teeth.

The camera is also my financial assistant that keeps track of all my receipts. It is also a living cookbook journals that keeps tracks of the dishes I eat or order in restaurants.

A gift arrived at the office
A gift arrived at the office

It is also a machine I use to show others what I’m doing right now. None of those images are meant to be saved ‘for later’. A year from now nobody will care about what I did at 9:06 AM while waiting in line at the coffee bar. It might be interesting for 1 other person (the person I’m getting coffee for) but it can safely disappear into the void an hour later. No need to make an album out of those photos.

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Who’s this for?

Now you could argue there are different apps for different purposes and I should simply use Evernote for notes, Snapchat for disposable stuff and remember to delete the photos I no longer want. But that’s not how life works. I’m paying for lunch and take a quick pic of the receipt. That’s two actions: Swipe up, take photo.

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Lunch receipt

I could also launch my receipts app. Then means unlocking my phone, finding the app, launching it, clicking the ‘Add receipt photo’, taking the photo, etc. That’s easily 10 steps. Nobody has time for that.

Adding a note in Evernote is also more complicated than just swiping up and launching the camera. But Apple could easily make this easier. If Apple can detect a face in a photo it should be able to detect a receipt as well. If it can detect a selfie surely it can differentiate between ‘holiday photos’ and regular snapshots. In fact, if the photo was taken on a weekday, during work hours, and close to work or home there’s a 95% chance this isn’t some kind of holiday event that needs a photo album.

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Drinks with accountant receipt

I’d like it if Apple would add some actual intelligence to how it handles photos. All optional, of course. As soon as you take a photo the camera could detect what kind of photo it is and label it as ‘Receipts’, ‘Notes’ or ‘Expire after 7 days’. This could be a pop-up that would float there over the photo you just took. With one finger you can confirm or change a label, or just ignore it when it is right.

I don’t need a photo album to bore my friends with when they come over for dinner. I need to find a solution to clean up the chaos that’s my photo library.