With the latest release of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, Apple has also announced a new update to its mobile operating software, iOS 11. This happens annually, as if the company works by solar cycle, which can be both a blessing and a curse for filmmakers who rely on the iPhone or iPad – whether as a camera, editor, computer or all three.
Whilst Android is the most popular smartphone OS in the world, with an 80-90 per cent market share as opposed to the 10-20 per cent market share (other operating systems barely register). Yet iOS remains the platform of choice of most major broadcasters, including the BBC, mobile journalism, and filmmakers.
More efficient storage
One of the biggest changes is in new storage options for photos and videos, albeit only for the newest iOS devices. Apple claims that this new compression will allow photos and videos to retain their “discernible” quality whilst having half the file size: Photos will have the option to not be in .jpg but instead can be in HEIF (High Efficiency Image File). Likewise, there’s an option to record videos not in .mov but in HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding or H.265).
This is obviously fantastic news for filmmakers, who will in theory be able to store twice as much footage on the device before exporting it to a laptop or hard drive. Check out our article with filmmaking tips to make the most of your storage and battery too!
You will also now be able to remove apps, freeing up essential film footage space, however when you re-download them, the app is fully restored, unlike before – with all the documents and data you had before.
New Camera features!
There are many changes to the camera app, however the most useful changes for us filmmakers will be the feature to include the ‘rule of thirds’ grid for video now too, where it was only for photos before. This will be helpful when lining up a shot or trying to keep horizons level, excellent for helping you get that cinematic look with your footage. For photos, also gains a levelling feature that shows when an iPhone is being held perfectly level for an overhead shot.
There’s also now a document scanner built into the camera, within the Notes app; scanned documents can then be annotated and saved as a PDF.
New photos and video features!
Now whenever you capture a new screengrab, each new screenshot will be shown after at the bottom left of the screen. This gives you the option to share with another app instantly, or tap briefly once to adjust it. Previously, it took eight taps to access the options to edit a screengrab; now just one. This will be particularly useful to filmmakers looking to take quick screenshots of their footage to share!
The video camera is finally able to pause during recording (although this has been a feature long available in third party apps). However, one disappointing thing, the native iOS camera looks like it will continue to only record in 30 frames per second (fps) or multiples of that. This is great if your footage is to be broadcast in North America but not for those of us in many other places which use 25 fps.
With more and more budget indie filmmakers empowered by iOS in the world (and by some excellent Android cameras as well, of course!), particularly in countries with little legal press freedom, one new feature in iOS 11 is very welcome: the ability to lock the device quickly and prevent it from being easily re-opened. Depending on the laws of the country where you work, police officers can demand you unlock your device with your fingerprint, however they can’t demand you use your passcode. Apple has used this to its users advantage, as now they have given their phones the ability to disable Touch ID simple by pressing the on/off button five times – it can only be re-enabled with a passcode, which of course you can decline to give.
Saving the best till last, the new AR Kit is Apple’s way of introducing the possibilities of Augmented Reality (AR) to their audiences. The iPhone camera will map objects onto the world it can ‘see’ for the user to view on the screen. Whilst this may see like a gimmick at first, with the modern ingenuity of filmmakers over the globe, we can bet that this will be used in exciting and inventive ways.