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RAW Image Editing Coming to iOS 10?

PhotoJoseph's picture
June 13, 2016 - 4:02pm

In today's WWDC keynote, a couple of eagle-eyed viewers caught “RAW photo editing” on the feature cloud slide. There was no indication of what this means but the implication seems obvious… you've always been able to copy RAW files onto your iOS device from the SD Card reader, but only to transfer to your desktop. Presumably in iOS 10, you'll be able to actually harness the power of modern iOS devices and edit those RAW photos directly.

Thanks @sbrinkmann and @rke21 for the heads-up.

RAW photo editing” on the WWDC keynote feature-cloud slide on iOS 10




Apple Photos for iOS

I saw this when watching keynote and was really happy! Hope this means we can finally edit RAW photos on iPad and iPhone directly inside the Photos app and any other app in iOS 10.. Snapseed app would be that more amazing as it could harness the iOS RAW editing!…

I hope we also get extension roundtripping TIFF to Photos on macOS!

CNET posted a clarification of some of this earlier this morning. They had a workshop about all this scheduled for streaming from the WWDC app on AppleTV. 

Just installed the first beta of iOS 10 on my iPad pro. Sadly NO support for RAW so far. The iPad handles my RAW files the same way as in iOS 9. You can adjust the embedded preview jpeg, but not the RAW itself. I am talking about Fujifilm .raf files.

You should give Polarr a closer look. It is a single payment app, if you like all features, no monthly subscription. It handles my RAWs very well, does embedded Lens Correction (CA’s, Distortion, Vignetting), has Radial-, Gradient- and Color Mask, Brush, and many more tools for editing. Export in full resolution. (checked with metapho).


I love Polarr. We actually interviewed them on TWiPApps; if you've missed it check it out here TWiP Apps 05: Polarr; Leaving Other Apps in the Cold.

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Oh hm, so this update is about capturing RAW, not about editing RAW? Hopefully one infers the other… 

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I know that OSX has adopted DNG support natively since Yosemite and Photos app has been able to get my old DNG files imported succesfully (it says RAW in info panel).. I hope iOS will be able to leverage this for iPad and iPhone.

Anyone know how to live stream these sessions?

UPDATE: here is link to all session videos.

Watching the session video… Can confirm that RAW editing will be possible… Might need a third party developer to implement raw editing though .. Not sure Photos app will support…. 

Disappointed that only 6S, 6S plus, iPhone SE and iPad Pro 9.7 will have Raw capture unlocked… I just bought an iPhone 6 and am out of luck..   Sad that they did not allow all iOS 10 devices to support RAW capture. It is clearly possible as I am shooting TIFF Raw uncompressed already and have been doing so even on my 4S.

More will be revealed Thursday when they talk about RAW editing. Fingers crossed Apple has a few advances to Photos up its sleeve…

Yeah I was excited to see them mention RAW editing in iOS… can’t wait for Thursday’s session! It might just be the tipping point session for me to purchase the iPad Pro 2 (12.9) this fall (I suspect it being announced alongside the iOS 10 public release keynote.)

We can only hope!

All Questions answered in this WWDC Session Video:

Have Fun!

Brushes? Brushes??? Please give us local adjustments!!!

But there is the challenge, right? I believe that Apple discontinued Aperture because local adjustments were brushed. Which means to ripple changes across multiple devices requires transmitting “heavy” pixel data. The solution would be to make it “light” vector based local adjustments.  Math is always lighter than pixels ( as we saw when Flash came to dominance). Which is probably what Google was thinking when they acquired Nik. But that didn't work for some reason because they quietly removed Nik technology from their online tools a little while back. And now the Nik collection is free and we can probably anticipate that going someday in a future Google spring cleaning. Another vector based approach for local adjustments that might work across multiple devices would be like Lightzone used (before Aperture and Lightroom). And last I checked, the developer of that approach worked for Apple. 

So that is the Holy Grail. The race to practical local adjustments that can effectively ripple across all of our devices so that edits we “brush” on from a pad or phone will show up quickly on our desktop. It'll have to be math/vector based so that it uses little bandwidth. It'll have to be intuitive and powerful enough that a beginner to advanced photographer can make it work. 

Thanks for this very thoughtful insight! I wonder if something like Snapseed’s control points would classify as math/vector based effects. If so - I could sure live with that as an alternative.

It is. Lightzone's vector areas with smart edge detection is sort of similar. It's also a mathematically derived solution that can be transmitted as number and formula data over a network. Google had the Nik/Snapseed control point thing in other imaging tools but they quietly pulled them before the last Android release. That timing is not a coincidence. There must have been some technical reason to reassess that acquisition and approach. Now that Nik is free, I've been showing it to many more people. Oddly, they stick to the presets and avoid control points. Maybe the control point approach is not as intuitive as Google hoped. 

You almost wonder if that's part of the reason for resurrecting face detection in Photos. Beyond the obvious identification purposes, AI would also allow for selective dodging in places where photographers want it most. Kids don't brush when they edit images. A one click solution involving AI will cut the workload and appeal to that market. Photos may seem limited but it's right on target for future photographers. 

Thanks again for your post - that is welcome news! You know it’s funny I had almost forgotten the NIK also used edge detection control points. As an old Nikon guy - I used that software long before Google ever owned it. 

I suspect you are right about the development direction of editing software. I really don’t represent the main bulk of Photos users, I’m old school. I’m all for increased AI efforts in processing but I still see processing an image as a creative act. Unless the AI is trainable - I don’t see how it can rightly predict my creative act - short of me dropping a control point and fiddling with it. Of course I could be wrong here.

I am hopeful though. Apple has gone to a lot of trouble to put lots of new code under the hood. Simply opening up RAW editing and implementing DNG is a big step. Adding other features like a wide color space shows they are headed in the right direction. Let’s just hope they don’t leave all the UI advances to third parties via extensions.



I'm old school (very old school). But these kids? They're crazy and lazy… ;)

Finally caught up on the WWDC seminars and you can see plenty of hooks that will help with AI based image editing, even if Apple leaves it to the developers to experiment and try it out first. 

I am happy to see them implement RAW photo editing on iOS devices… A8 equipped and newer.

my disappointment was the fact that Apple is limiting RAW Apple DNG capture to 12 megapixel camera devices only (6S/6S plus, SE and iPad pro 9.7 inch only)…. I see 0 reason why 8 MP devices that support iOS 10 were left out.

Will keep using Shoot app by Procam to generate uncompressed RAW TIFF files instead. (each file will be 32MB but I can live with that happily!)

The reason is simply a moving forward thing. By the time they implement it, even the 6 and Pro devices will far enough back that 12 megapixel and above will be the lowest practical users. You'll have 7 and Pro 2 devices with their own advances. Why invest time and energy on old hardware that is phasing out when you're moving users forward? You support those older devices which are practical (and they are) but you also say “if you want our very latest, you need to upgrade.”  

The iPhone 6/6Plus are more than capable of capturing RAW image from the iPhone’s 8MP sensor… I do it currently with third party apps sold on the app store.. the resulting files retain all the uncompressed RAW data encompassed in a TIFF file just before the iPhone can start processing it and ruining it with Noise reduction and it’s own corrections..

I just would have liked for Apple to enable the RAW DNG format on an already capable iPhone 6 instead of soft locking the feature for 12 MP devices ONLY.

The mentality that a 2 year old device owner is not practical is very disappointing to read… the reason a company should invest time and effort on the so-called “old hardware” is to keep those “unpractical users” loyal to the brand and have them come back when it is time to upgrade.. 

Hoping that this is not the true thinking from Apple and just a mere misconception on your part.

2 years is a long time in technology. Where I work, quite a few people had Windows phones (from the Nokia deal) for a 6 month period. That didn't end too well. My camera manufacturer added new features to a new model a year later. I wish I had those but I don't. The kids are fleeing Twitter for Instagram. Change is just part of this stuff.

My 6 year old iMac will still run Sierra even though the bloated apps from Adobe may be too slow. My (already retired) iPhone 5 will still run iOS 10. It won't cease to function because it doesn't have the latest thing. I still use a first edition iPad for some tasks even though it is well beyond the iOS upgrade cycle. Heck, I have an ancient MacBook stuck on Snow Leopard that refuses to die and give me excuse to buy something newer. I use it almost daily. 

If I'm going to get worked up over an upcoming feature that is still obscure to most of the population and that requires a newer device in our era of disposable technology, I'm in the wrong business. But Apple has done a good job of keeping old stuff mostly up to date  


Personally, I'm more worried about being acquired by Microsoft. That can't be good and is far more upsetting. But it is what it is and  something new will always happen. 

I’m sorry to hear people feel that way about a 900$ device.. to each their own… I’ll just have to make do with what is trickled down to a generation old device then.

I get what you are saying - but to be fair - “People” don’t feel that way about the last generation of cameras - Apple does. Add to that the fact that historically Apple has been notorious about walking away from technologies they believe are at end of life. Cameras, disc types, disc drives, Flash, The list goes on and on…

Luckily, in many cases, “there’s an app for that.”

sorry - this was meant to be a reply to the post above… I messed up.

There might also be a Jailbreak for that lol.. might be the first time I jailbreak my iPhone since the 3GS era… 

Excellent Point - but it’s a real disappointment users are forced to go that route.

I don't miss ADB. I don't miss floppies. I don't miss DVD's. I don't miss mechanical HD's. I don't miss Flash (Splash had a good life while it lasted). And long time editors will say this is sacrilege but I've been editing longer than most who complain and I don't miss the old FCP. I got tired of explaining why “you don't edit that way” while FCP X can (and much faster). I like Wifi when it's available and remember that Apple really made that easy to use before it was fashionable. I wouldn't swap my old iPhone for my old iPaq. And while I still miss the grace and beauty of Aperture, life moves on and it will go on the shelf of honor next to Director. Apple moves us forward, sometimes painfully, but usually for the better. 

It seems a lot of this RAW stuff in the latest iOS is tied to 12MP cameras that support Live Photos so there may be software/engineering reason that they drew the line there. Since it's all free, I can't complain. All the devices I own will have more to offer than the features I bought at the time. 

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