The num­ber of pho­to edit­ing apps in 2021 is already off the charts. Film-sim­u­lat­ing, adding effects, allow­ing you to shoot and edit in RAW, apply hun­dreds of fil­ters or add visu­al effects. Final­ly, a well-aimed argu­ment: the canon­i­cal name of Vsco, and the fact that this does not only sur­prise any­one. Even it is already jeans. You have to choose and be torn between the many.

For me, it was until the moment when I returned to the basics and real­ized how high-qual­i­ty and good the built-in pho­to edi­tor is.

The first pho­to edit­ing tools in iOS appeared back in 2013, but then it was more like a show: every­thing is raw, a mod­est set of crop­ping and auto­mat­ic enhance­ment, and after that a selec­tion of built-in fil­ters. How­ev­er, already with IOS 10, the qual­i­ty is notice­ably improved, and the set of built-in tools is grow­ing! Fur­ther more. On the lat­est firmware of apple gad­gets, the Pho­tos appli­ca­tion is ready to com­pete with third-par­ty pho­to edit­ing pro­grams. This is not at all the raw set that it was at the begin­ning.


At the time of writ­ing this text, Apple’s built-in pho­to edi­tor already has 17 (!) Tools for work­ing on a frame. Among them, most of the stan­dard ones, famil­iar from … all pro­grams for work­ing with images:
-Expo­sure con­trol
-Edit­ing high­lights and shad­ows
-Con­trast and bright­ness
-Sat­u­ra­tion, col­or tem­per­a­ture and hue
-Sharp­ness, detail and grain/noise work

And this is with­out the very obvi­ous dis­tor­tion along the axes, rota­tion, crop­ping and oth­er things. It would seem that more than! This is a sol­id set for stan­dard pho­to edit­ing. This is exact­ly what we are talk­ing about, not about full-fledged pro­cess­ing of shoot­ing, which is best done at the com­put­er. At a min­i­mum — sim­pler, as a max­i­mum — a larg­er dis­play.

All these tools can be found in many pro­cess­ing pro­grams, and Apple has honed its algo­rithms to a suf­fi­cient extent. Today they give out a real­ly high-qual­i­ty lev­el of pro­cess­ing: if years ear­li­er it was pos­si­ble to com­plain about it, now I would not. Then why go some­where else and turn to third-par­ty devel­op­ers?


There are no sta­tis­tics, but word of mouth is very spe­cif­ic: fil­ters and pre­sets are def­i­nite­ly what the major­i­ty uses. And that, for which the major­i­ty choos­es pho­to edi­tors for the phone. Def­i­nite­ly not for curves!

In this mat­ter, the apple edi­tor is cer­tain­ly lag­ging behind: there are only 9 built-in fil­ters, three of which are BW. Com­pared to the same Vsco, where their num­ber is mea­sured in tens … But about this, my per­son­al expe­ri­ence shows that they are not always need­ed when it comes to seri­ous pro­cess­ing of the frame (which is not suit­able for every­one). A com­bi­na­tion of col­or tem­per­a­ture-hue-sat­u­ra­tion is enough and you can bring the frame to the desired col­or com­bi­na­tion. Per­son­al­ly, in my mem­o­ry, there are only a few pro­grams for smart­phones that allow you to work on mid­tones and col­or in detail. And then, with a paid sub­scrip­tion. On the phone. For seri­ous pho­to edit­ing. If nec­es­sary? For such cas­es, you can already turn to desk­top pro­cess­ing and use a proven pro­gram on your com­put­er. For every­one else — yes, no one for­bids using pro­grams with fil­ters, I some­times open them myself. But there are not so many cas­es when, after sur­face pro­cess­ing with slid­ers, you also need to turn to fil­ters, in my prac­tice there are not so many. This again reverts to using the built-in edi­tor.

Not with­out crit­i­cism

Fil­ters — okay: they are pop­u­lar, but not every­one uses them. But more glob­al short­com­ings, of course, will be. I can’t say that the iPhone’s built-in pho­to soft­ware is that per­fect. For real­ly deep pho­to pro­cess­ing, it is much more appro­pri­ate to switch to a com­put­er that is at hand. But a few built-in tools would resolve such doubts in favor of a smart­phone.

First of all, the heal­ing brush. Cas­es when it is nec­es­sary to cov­er up some­thing or remove a small object from the frame some­times hap­pen. And the built-in edi­tor can’t do that. We have to turn to oth­er devel­op­ers who, although not per­fect­ly, have imple­ment­ed this tool.

Num­ber two is the brightening/darkening brush. The pro­gram built into apple tech­nol­o­gy allows you to edit light and dark areas, but all at once. And some­times you want to high­light some­thing pointy and spe­cif­ic, with­out affect­ing the rest of the pho­to. It’s noth­ing. But even it would make one even more entrenched in the choice of built-in pro­cess­ing for the sake of oth­er pro­grams.