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iOS 11 Beta For Photographers | PSA: Don’t Do It

By Kishore Sawh on July 8th 2017

With the arrival of WWDC oh hardly a month ago now, Apple users worldwide were tantalized by the changes to iTunes, the coming of an Apple sound system, the new iPad Pro, and a new Mac OS, but perhaps nothing near as exciting as iOS 11. Everyone and their mother has an iPhone or iPad and iOS 11 appears to be the biggest overhaul to the mobile OS that we’ve seen, ever. And we all wanted it now.

Well, I’m here to issue this public service announcement with creatives in mind, that no matter how tempting, if you’re a working pro and/or rely on your mobile device to shoot or conduct business, my recommendation after having used the public Beta for over a week, is to avoid it like it has Ebola and it about to sneeze.

[RELATED: How Apple Views Photography | Here’s What’s Coming & It’s More Than Just Raw Capture]

Yes, I can hear from the more vocal of you in the peanut gallery that it’s a beta and therefore not expected to be immaculate, but we’re not talking about just being shy of perfection here, we’re talking about unusable. This public beta is particularly poor as far as Apple’s prior public betas go, and if you’re just using your phone to make calls, text, and swipe right, then it’ll probably do if you can deal with the stuttering keyboard, significantly degraded speed, and frequent crashing. But if you’re a photographer there are some issues that really void this. Here is a short list of issues I’ve come across and have been able to corroborate with other users:

Lightroom Mobile

Whilst Lightroom Mobile opens fine and you are able to pull images already in the cloud, getting new images into it is problematic, and may need frequent phone resets to allow for this to happen. In addition, raw files on my phone (transferred by cameras – so NEF and ARW and Leica DNG) that were previously able to be altered would not fully load in LR.

There is a significant community of photographers out there who depend on LR Mobile and if you identify as such then keep this in mind and hold off on the update.

Native Camera App & Third Party Apps

The native camera app, as reported and seen by my own eyes, is temperamental, and while it may appear you can take a photo, the photo often will not save. Strangely, third party apps seem immune to this problem. However, even at times when the third party apps do save, they appear as blank cells in the Photos app.

On its own that may not seem too much a bother, however, it also means that if you use the camera in an app like Google Hangouts it won’t always work there.

While Halide and Cortex cameras all seemed to function fine, other camera Apps which gave problems intermittently were VSCO, Snapseed, and Lightroom Mobile.

Uploading Photos to Instagram & Facebook

This, perhaps, is the real kicker for those who are high-functioning mobile shooters; that at this junction uploading photos to any platform, or even to send via text cannot be counted on. Simply put, it works on and off, and from testing it seems the longer you use the phone without a reset (sometimes a hard reset) the more likely you’ll run into problems. I’ve found that restarting the phone or doing a hard reset can get things working to a degree, but not with consistency.

There are other quirks alluded to above, such as the frequent crashing of otherwise-would-be-stable apps and the frequent occurrence of a screen that’s stuck between apps (as shown above in the center photo), but the lack of dependability on certain photography-centric apps is what should really be considered here. And, perhaps, speed. Everything just takes that much longer even on a 7+.

This is not meant to be an Apple bashing moment, but simply a warning to those looking to get on iOS 11 in public beta, especially as reverting isn’t the easiest thing to do. The upsides? Well, when it works it’s great and the Files system is sure to be a boon to creatives, especially on iPad.

Oh, and unless it’s my imagination, Portrait Mode seems to be improving, though that could be because I’ve been shooting a OnePlus5 and HuaWei Mate 9 side by side with their versions of it, and while they both have strengths, at this point Portrait Mode isn’t one of them.

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. larwin johnson

    Its now finalized and is at iOS 11.2.6. With new editing features and high resolution camera, iOS 11 is going crazy. For photographers like me, Its very useful.


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  2. Fred King

    During the Beta, I complete lost the ability to transfer files from my DSLR and  card readers to my iPad Pro. I haven’t attempted since the the official iOS 11 release but I’m praying this issue has been resolved.

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  3. David Kalonick

    I downloaded it and it has some issues but nothing that slows down my day to day operations. 

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  4. John Havord

    Sorry Kishore, but this psa, is nothing short of clickbait.  No issue, with you highlighting issues with the beta, on your phone and others, but to advise users not to update is ridiculous.  I thought Slrlouge was better than this.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      John, hi there. Well, I won’t argue my point to death here, but as mentioned below to Sven, I was very specific about who this was aimed at, and that’s photographers who are largely mobile shooters and rely on their phone for business whether by IG and so on. So I stand by the advisory for that crowd. The public beta could be hindering enough to cause problems for how their business is conducted. Perhaps you aren’t familiar with how critical this can be for some, but I’m all too familiar – of course this is not pertaining to the finished product as stated above. Cheers

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  5. Sven Illert

    This article is absolutely crap. You should file bug reports! Everybody who uses a beta must accept terms which state that this could happen. It’s exactly for what betas are released! And nobody should use a device he relies on to test beta software. So you should not panic out ‘Hey photographers, don’t use iOS11’, but rather ‘Hey, the beta behaves actually like a beta’. And please, file bug reports if you find bugs.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Whoa Sven, you sound pretty angry – it’s the weekend, no need. Also you are making assumptions here and the purpose of the post seems to be missed. First, I do file bug reports and feedback, and I’m not sure why you seem to think that’s not the case, and this is not about telling anyone not to update to iOS 11’s finished product, and was very specific who this pertained to: “if you’re a working pro and/or rely on your mobile device to shoot or conduct business…”

      The fact is, there are photographers who run their business off their phone and the behavior of this Public Beta for many people, myself included, can be a large hindrance and not worth the trouble at this point. Will that apply to all? No, but that doesn’t invalidate that it does for some.

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    • Sven Illert

      But what is your point of the article then? Everybody who installs a beta knows that it’s not for production use. And if somebody ignores the warnings from Apple, it’s his own fault. Not enough, your whole article sound’s like “Oh, iOS 11 is buggy”. You do not make it clear enough that you only write about the beta release.  Sorry for sounding too harsh in my previous comment, I apologize.

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  6. Mitch Walla

    Maybe you might want to take a poll, I’m using an iphone 6s plus with the public beta, and I have had close to 0… yes… ZERO problems. The only issue that seems somewhat reoccurring is when I use apple maps (I was testing with CarPlay, the new speed limits and lane assist), the music kept kicking out whenever I was getting voice directions.

    Otherwise, close to no issues. Maybe you should wipe your phone and install from scratch. Restore from icloud backup.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      It’s a thought and anything is possible, but I’ve done my digging Mitch, and there’s a general opinion (and pretty well documented now) that this public beta is particularly bad. Having said that, fingers crossed that the public beta update will improve this. I was actually at an Apple store today discussing this and the employees at the Genius Bar were quick to speak up about the problems. Apparently, however, they’re less common on iPads.

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