Close this search box.

An overview of the evolution of Apple Photos software

The evolution of Apple Photos can be traced through the different versions of iOS. Indeed, in the history of Apple Photos, each version of iOS has created opportunities to offer new features to edit, process, sort and store photos on Mac, iPhone, iPad or Apple TV.

The Apple Photos software offered in its first version no longer looks like the one present in the latest versions of iOS. Indeed, at the time of its release, Photos might even have been a disappointment. Apple has implemented profound changes over the years to create a truly useful and free everyday application. It is, therefore, this development of the range that we invite you to discover in detail.

Table of contents

2015: Apple Photos replaced iPhoto and Aperture

2015 was the year of the release of Apple Photos with the OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 operating system update. Apple Photos was not the first photo editing software from the famous apple brand. On the contrary, Photos replaced two previous photo editing programs:

  • iPhoto, and
  • Aperture.


Aperture was professional software that contained many post-processing functions. So when in 2015, Apple announced the discontinuation of iPhoto and Aperture and the release of Photos, users thought they would find the same functionality. But that was simply not the case. In 2015, Apple Photos didn’t allow you to do the same work you could do with iPhoto or Aperture.

New features of macOS Sierra and iOS 10 in 2016

After Yosemite and El Capitan, “macOS Sierra” is the name of the thirteenth version of Apple’s computer operating system, released in 2016. There are two major new features to keep in mind when it comes to Apple’s photo processing and management application.

First, macOS Sierra powers iCloud as the only system for backing up and synchronizing all the files on a device. All photos are stored in the cloud. But changes are also synchronized. This means that a photo edited on iPhone will instantly appear with the same changes on all devices:

  • Mac;
  • iPhone;
  • iPad;
  • Apple Watch;
  • and Apple TV.


In 2016, the use of artificial intelligence in Photos improved the recognition of elements of an image. For example, Apple Photos is able to automatically group similar faces using “deep learning”. Similarly, the Search function is equipped with additional resources thanks to artificial intelligence. In this way, Photos precisely analyzes the content of each image. It is now possible to search for a photo in your library based on an element present in the image.

Third, Apple Photos software offered users a new section: the Memories section. The software gathers all the photos taken at the same event and assembles them into a “memory” in the form of a video. Depending on the place, theme or person, Photos is able to edit a real movie. Memory videos can be enhanced with:

  • music;
  • title;
  • cinematographic transition.


Each memory can be customized by the user, saved and shared. The movie templates are suggestions that each user can improve according to their taste by making different types of adjustments.

Overview of the evolution of Apple Photos software 3

iOS 12: Sharing and the search feature in Apple Photos

The release of iOS 12 in 2018 for smartphones corresponded with the release of macOS Mojave, the successor to macOS Sierra, for computers. With this new version, Apple Photos developed a new major section of its photo management and editing application: sharing suggestions.

In practical terms, the software gathers photos taken during an event with a person and suggests sharing these images with this person. Sharing suggestions only show the best photos, but it is, of course, possible to add new ones from the image library.

The Search function was also improved. It occupies a full section on the smartphone and offers several search categories on the same screen, such as search by:

  • keywords;
  • moments;
  • people;
  • locations;
  • categories.


Finally, Apple Photos has a new section: the “For You” section. It includes memory movies, recommended photos and sharing suggestions.

2019: iOS 13 and macOS Catalina for highlighting photos

In 2019, Apple Photos was equipped with new photo-editing tools. The app also rearranged how photos are displayed in the library.

First of all, Photos offered more possibilities for editing and working on photos. Easily accessible from any photo, these applications facilitate photo editing thanks to the intensity slider. Indeed, for each editing tool, such as contrast, brightness or saturation, a slider makes it possible to precisely define the right measurement. This slider is also present to measure the intensity of filters, including the following filters:

  • dramatic
  • silver
  • black
  • intense
  • original
  • etc.


The slider is a tool that can also be used to work on photos taken in portrait mode. This means that the lighting of a portrait photo can be truly personalized. Several tests can be carried out in order to choose the correct setting. Each test provides the opportunity to save a new image on the smartphone or computer. This lighting adjustment tool is available in two locations on the unit: 

  • in Apple Photos for all photos already taken in portrait mode;
  • directly on the photo that has just been taken in portrait mode.


The second new feature of iOS 13 is the display of photos in the smartphone image library. New sections have been added to optimize the presentation of the photos. From now on, images are classified by day, month or year. At a glance, it is possible to view the most beautiful photos taken last month or during the current year.

Overview of the evolution of Apple Photos software 1

In 2021, the fifteenth version of the iOS 15 mobile operating system was released

2021 marked the release of iOS 15 and the launch of many new features for compatible smartphone models, including the Apple Photos app.

Very accurate information is added to each photo taken with the digital camera built into the smartphone. Some of this information is as follows:

  • the type of smartphone used;
  • the use of a conventional “back camera” or a front camera;
  • the lens used;
  • the shutter speed;
  • the file size;
  • the place and date the photo was taken;
  • etc.

The Memories section is enriched with new features. For example, Apple Music subscribers are offered movie music adapted to their musical tastes. Memory video movies are therefore more personalized by the use of artificial intelligence. Users can always take control of each video movie to edit photos, titles, music, etc.

When each new operating system is released, Apple strives to offer improvements that aim to optimize the use of Apple Photos. Whether it’s photo editing, showcasing memory videos, storing or sharing, Apple Photos software shows that it can deliver a unique experience for every user.

The evolution of Apple Photos is therefore built around the user to provide an increasingly personalized experience. The Photos application encourages each user to regularly revisit their favorite memories and share them instantly with their loved ones and contacts while keeping control over the use and processing of each of their images.

Did you enjoy this post?
Share it on your social media