iPhone photos just got a big update: What you need to know

Apple's new features in iOS 13 change how you view and edit pictures on your iPhone and iPad.

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
4 min read

Apple revamped the Photos app on iOS 13. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

With all the new camera features coming to the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, it's no surprise the company included major changes to the Photos app in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13, which will work for many older devices, too. The Photos app has a new look and editing tools that are designed to make your photos -- and, for the first time, videos -- look better than ever. 

Beyond new edit tools, the Photos app now takes a more interactive approach to curate your past photos and videos, and improved search tools give the app a more personal touch. 

The update to the Photos app joins a new swipe keyboard, a ton of hidden features, and the ability to block all unknown callers.

Watch this: iPhone 11: 3 phones, reviewed. Which do you choose?

After using the new Photos app, one thing is clear: Apple wants you to view Photos as an app you should visit daily to discover old pictures and videos you'd all but forgotten about. Oh, and there are some fancy new video editing tools you should probably take advantage of. 

Let's take a look at what's new in the Photos app in iOS 13.


There are now four different views of your organized photos, based on time. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

New Photos tab features help organize your pics

The Photos app has a new look overall, and it's most apparent in the new Photos tab. When viewing the Photos tab, you'll find four options at the bottom of the screen: Years, Months, Days, All Photos. You can move between the various options to narrow down a specific time frame for viewing your pics. 

Each option has its own way of showing photos from that specific time. For example, selecting Years will show you photos taken as close to today's date, only in 2018, 2017 and so on. It's kind of like Timehop, but built into your iPhone or iPad. 

Here's another example of the Photos app creating special views for you. If you use the People album to identify friends and family members and have entered their birthday in their contact information card, the Photos tab will highlight the person on their birthday with various photos of that person. 


Editing a picture in iOS 13 is familiar, yet slightly different than it was in iOS 12. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Photo editing tools you should care about

Apple updated the tools you use to edit a photo. The new look and layout of the tools will take some adjustments on your part, but shouldn't be too jarring. 

When viewing a photo you want to edit, the Edit button is still in the top-right corner. Selecting Edit opens the default edit tool where you can choose auto adjustments, or scroll through various settings such as brightness, brilliance, exposure, and so on. 

To adjust any of the options, you can move the line of bars just below each button to the left or right. 

The filters tool still works the same as it did in iOS 12, only now you can adjust its intensity. Once you select a filter, drag the line of bars to the left to decrease the impact of the filter on your photo. 

The crop tool now does more than just allow you to crop a photo. You can now also change a picture's perspective, which means you can adjust the viewing angle of the photo. This gives you total control over how the picture looks, and it a lot like a popular Instagram tool.  


The biggest change to the Photos app in iOS 13 is the addition of video editing tools. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

All-new video editing tools

Perhaps the most notable addition to Photos in iOS 13 is video editing. I'm not talking just about trimming a clip and saving it, but the ability to adjust everything from brightness and exposure to applying a filter or cropping and perspective. 

With true video editing tools now included in the Photos app, you're no longer forced to find a more complicated (and oftentimes expensive) video editing tool in the app store or on your laptop. Instead, you can quickly and easily edit a video in this built-in app you're likely already familiar with. 

The tools for video editing work the same way as the photo editing tools do, only the first screen you'll see is the option to trim the clip. The trim tool works as it always has -- drag the yellow ends of the video to set the start and end time of the clip you want to save. This is great for snipping off false starts and awkward endings.

With your video trimmed, you can then adjust and fine-tune the overall look of your clip and save it back to the Photos album. 

Take a look at photos from the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max

See all photos

What's more, any edits you make to a video are nondestructive. This means if you add a filter and crop the video, only to decide a few days later that you're not happy with the changes, you can go back and undo it all. The original video will remain intact.

There's plenty more to iOS 13 than updates to the Photos app. so make sure to check out our complete guide to iOS 13 for all the latest details. 

Originally published earlier this year. Updated with new information.