As we've come to expect, Apple is using its annual developers' conference in San Francisco to announce new versions of its desktop and mobile operating systems. Along with a host of refinements in iOS 8 is a revamped Photos app, with improved native retouching options, better search, more complete iCloud integration and support for third party retouching apps as 'extensions'.

In iOS 7, photo retouching was effectively limited to redeye removal and a one touch 'auto-enhance' options.

One-shot, universal brightness adjustments can lead to unwanted side-effects, like blown highlights. In iOS 8, 'Lightness' and 'Color' can be adjusted in a much more granular fashion. In iOS 8, while 'Lightness' is manipulated using a simple slider, for example, the control dynamically adjusts several separate parameters behind the scenes, including shadow and highlight exposure, black-point and contrast. These individual parameters can then be fine-tuned if required. 

Support for third party apps as 'extensions' is a welcome addition, allowing iOS users to apply third-party filter effects from directly within the Photos app.

Edits made to photos on an iOS device are automatically synced with Apple's iCloud service, and are preserved when the images are accessed from another iOS or desktop device. All photos and videos which are accessed from the cloud will be made available at full resolution. We've seen similar functionality before from Google, but anyone who owns multiple Apple mobile and desktop devices will no doubt appreciate it.

As well as the changes to the Photos app on iOS, a dedicated Photos app will be available in early 2015 for Apple's Mac desktop computers that will offer the same retouching functionality.

iOS 8 will be available in the autumn, and will be compatible with all current iOS devices, and some older models including the iPhone 4S and iPad2.

Update: According to The Verge, iOS 8 will also add at least one new feature to the Camera app - separate controls for focus and exposure. In iOS 7, focus and exposure can be locked from a specific scene element, but not separately. The option to lock both independently of one another isn't new (some third-party apps already provide the option) but it's a nice refinement to the native iOS Camera app.