Updated: Jun 9, 2018
It wasn’t one of the standout details featured on stage at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) earlier this week, but improved RAW photo support is coming to the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 12.
Apple doesn’t seem to have many details on what new features or functionality will be included in the final version of iOS 12, set to be released later this year. But with a little digging through the iOS 12 developers beta on a 12.9” iPad Pro, we’ve been able to discover a handful of improvements.
As of iOS 12 Beta 1, most of the changes appear to be related to the import workflow.
Now, when you plug in Apple’s SD card to Lightning adapter (or camera connection kit), the Photos app will show up as an overlay on whatever app you’re using. This comes as a much less invasive method than previously used in iOS 11, wherein whatever app you were in would be switched over to the full-screen Photos app for importing. It also means you can multitask more efficiently, importing photos while getting other stuff done.
As for the import module, at surface level it doesn’t appear as though much has changed. But thanks to a few UI changes, importing photos and videos has become a lot easier and has taken out a lot of the guesswork previously required.
Now, when photos are detected on a card, iOS 12 will automatically sort through the content and determine if any of the photos have already been imported. If they have, they will be put in a separate area so you don’t accidentally import duplicates. Another new feature is a counter on the top of the screen that lasts you know how many photos are being displayed and how much space they take up on the memory card. This should help alleviate the guesswork involved when trying to determine whether or not you have enough storage on your iOS device.
The importing progress bar can be seen in the upper-right-hand corner of the screen.
There’s also a new progress circle that appears when importing. If you tap it as photos are being imported, you’ll get a counter that shows how many photos have been importing out of the number you’ve selected.
One of the most welcomed new features we’ve come across is the ability to preview your photos full-screen. Before iOS 12, you could only see small thumbnails of photos when importing, which made it all but impossible to select a particular image in a sequence if there wasn’t much visual difference. Now, you can pinch out on a thumbnail and see a full-size preview.
The full-screen preview makes it easier to choose between similar images.
The last improvement we noticed was in importing speed. In testing, we noticed a rather drastic improvement in how fast photos transferred from an SD card to the iPad Pro. Based off 25MB RAW files, imported using Apple’s latest SD card to Lightning adapter, the transfer rate jumped from 1.2 seconds per photo on iOS 11 to approximately 0.8 seconds per photo on iOS 12 Beta 1. We’re not sure what particular magic is going on here, but that’s a 33% improvement.
As future iOS 12 betas are launched, it’s inevitable more features will be brought to light. If we come across anything else in the meantime, we’ll update this article accordingly. If you notice something we missed, be sure to let us know in the comments below.