Photos app for iOS 8 gets powerful sync, search, and editing

Apple's upcoming Photos app and iCloud Photo Library promises to put all your iOS photos on all your devices, as well as offering some handy ways to pretty them up.

Joshua Goldman

Joshua Goldman

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Josh Goldman helps people find the best laptop at the best price -- from simple Chromebooks to high-end gaming laptops. He's been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software for more than two decades.

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More than just a stream for sharing, the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library for iOS 8 promise organization for all of your photos across all of your iOS devices.

Right now, iCloud's photo syncing stores only up to 1,000 photos, and each photo is stored for just 30 days -- a major downside if you were using it as backup storage. The iCloud Photo Library, on the other hand, will store all of your photos and videos -- including raw files -- so you can view and download them at any time and without a time limit.

Well, at least up to the first 5GB of free storage for your iCloud account. Once that's maxed, you'll need to pay up: 20GB for $1 per month or 200GB for $4 per month. Apple says tiers to as much as 1TB will be available.

Beyond storage and file syncing, though, the iCloud Photo Library will keep track of organization changes as well. That means changes made to Moments, Collections, and Years on your devices will appear across all your devices that are synced with the iCloud Photo Library.

Apple iOS 8 at WWDC 2014 (pictures)

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To help make digging through your hundreds or thousands of photos easier, Apple is bringing smarter searching to the Photos app. You'll be able to search by date or time, location, or album name. In addition to those, the search will offer suggestions such as photos taken at a nearby location or the same time from the previous year.

The app's editing tools are getting updated as well. For example, Photos will automatically straighten and crop your shots. New smart tools let you adjust exposure, brightness, and contrast just by dragging your finger across the screen. You'll also have access to more granular controls, too, should you want to tweak something specific.

Tim Stevens/CNET

Also, along with access to Apple's selection of filters and effects, iOS 8 will allow app developers to integrate their own filters into the Photos app. And like other changes you make to pictures in your iCloud Photo Library, edits will sync across your devices. So if you start an edit on your iPhone, you can then open it on your iPad to continue editing or even revert to the original, because editing in iOS 8 is nondestructive.

Along with the new editing features in Photos, the Camera app for iOS 8 will have a new Time-lapse mode. Apple says the mode will snap photos at dynamically selected intervals and turn them into a video of an accelerated sequence of the photos. All you do is select how long you want to shoot for, then press record -- the camera does the rest.

Read more WWDC 2014 coverage.

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