Photo Filters Problem
For casual photographers using iPhones, one of the big added features to come out of the iOS 7 update was the inclusion of native filters: Instagram-like one-tap processes that turn a photo into a noirish black-and-white or a vintage sepia. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed a few in particular, and have been using them fairly regularly.
Now, though, an odd choice by Apple means I’m not sure I can continue doing that.
See, the filters on iOS 7 are designed to be non-destructive, meaning that a user will always have the option to return to the original, unaltered, photo—even if they have specifically saved the filtered version. In some situations, this might be useful, but for a wide majority of the iOS user base I believe it’s backward—I believe that instead of retaining the original, a filtered photo, once saved, should either replace the original or be its own new photo.
Why? Because of the many ways we share our photos today. With Apple’s setup, the filtered photo only remains a filtered photo if you share it in the “right” ways. For instance, filtered photos shared using the popular Google+ service revert to their original appearance; the same thing happens when opening them in third-party apps on iOS (try editing a filtered photo in the popular Snapseed app, for instance). Photos emailed or shared in a user’s Photo Stream, on the other hand, retain their filtered look, but a user shouldn’t have to stop and think about how they’re sharing a photo, and how it will be viewed, each time they send something to friends or family.
It’s not clear to me why Apple would choose to implement their filters this way, and I hope that an update to iOS will find them reversing course. (Although I don’t have high hopes: the same behavior can be found in the crop/save feature in the Photos app on iOS 6.) In the meantime, you might want to think twice about using the built-in filters if you share a lot of photos outside of the Apple ecosystem.
(For now, a workaround is to upload a filtered photo to a Photo Stream and the download it to your Camera Roll. The saved photo will keep its filtered look in other apps.)