iOS 13 vs iOS 12: What's new in photos?

Here's a look at the four big changes the iOS 13 public beta is delivering to your iPhone's camera.

Vanessa Hand Orellana CNET Senior Editor
As head of wearables at CNET, Vanessa reviews and writes about the latest smartwatches and fitness trackers. She joined the team seven years ago as an on-camera reporter for CNET's Spanish-language site and then moved on to the English side to host and produce some of CNET's videos and YouTube series. When she's not testing out smartwatches or dropping phones, you can catch her on a hike or trail run with her family.
Vanessa Hand Orellana
3 min read

iOS 13 brings with it a suite of new photo- and video-editing features.

Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

If you're into iPhone photography, some of the best new features to look forward to in iOS 13 are found not in the camera, but nestled in the Photos app. With iOS 13 beta available now and the finalized version expected in the fall, you'll soon have more ways to make your shots look even better.

For example, you'll finally be able to edit and rotate videos, and Photos has a new way to keep things organized. Compared to the current iOS 12.3.1, taking and editing photos in iOS 13 is more practical and satisfying. Read on to see what other things are changing. 

More tools to improve your shots 

If you're just glancing at a photo on the Photos app, you probably won't notice a difference between iOS 13 and iOS 12. But hit the edit icon and things are very different. You'll now see a whole new set of editing options and sliders in iOS 13. There's still sliders for brightness, contrast and saturation, but it doesn't require as many taps to access them. 


The Camera app doesn't look too different on the surface, but there are significant changes underneath. 

Vanessa Hand Orellana / CNET

For Instagram users, the new editing interface will seem familiar. You'll also have additional tools like sharpen, noise reduction and vignette. And instead of just rotating and cropping a shot you can flip it, and tilt the angle. Filters haven't changed much in iOS 13 but you can now control the intensity, similar to the way you would on Instagram.

For portrait shots, you now have a new lighting option called "high-key light mono," which turns the background white on top of converting the whole photo into black and white. This is similar to the current Stagelight mono filter, except there's a white background instead of black. You can access high-key light mono in two ways: Inside the camera app when you're taking a portrait shot, or after you've taken the picture and editing it in the Photos app. And if you have an iPhone XS, XR or XS Max , there will be two options at the top right hand corner of the screen: One to adjust blur intensity and the other to adjust the intensity of the lighting effects.

Instagram tools for your videos 

The most game-changing new photo feature in iOS 13 is video editing. The camera on the iPhone consistently ranks number one in our tests for video, but until iOS 13, there were very few editing options. All you could do was trim down a clip once a video was shot or download some third-party app to do something as simple as rotate a video.


Video editing is a welcome new feature set.

Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

But with iOS 13, you have nearly all the same editing tools for video that you have for photos. You can add filters, increase sharpness , tweak the exposure, adjust color temperature, crop or even rotate videos. If you go overboard with edits, you can also revert back to the original file without penalty. That's something you can't even do on Instagram yet.

Get organized 

The other big change to the photos app is how it organizes photos. It's now a collage of memories categorized by days, months or years, instead of just static pictures in a grid like what you'd see in the "All photos tab" on iOS 12. iOS 13 will show all your pictures, videos and live photos in differently-sized squares. As you scroll, videos and live photos automatically play, giving your entire Photos app a more dynamic feel.


Apple has completely changed how it organizes your photos in iOS 13

Vanessa Hand Orellana / CNET

In addition, you can toggle to a specific month or year, and each one will have its own cover shot. Before, you could only see clusters of photos organized by date and location. 


It's a cleaner look.

Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

More sharing options

Lastly you can choose to hide the location when you share. To do this, hit the share button, tap on "options" at the top and toggle off location. You can also choose to share photos in their original quality when sharing via Airdrop.