Camera Awesome 2
Spring 2013 - Fall 2013
About Camera Awesome
Launched in 2012, SmugMug’s Camera Awesome was one of the most popular iOS photography apps of its time, becoming the #1 camera app in 55 countries and the #1 app overall in 10 countries with over 25 million downloads.
When Camera Awesome launched in 2012, it’s design was heavily skeuomorphic, with buttons crafted to look like real knobs and dials on a camera. But by 2013, flat design became the more popular design paradigm. We wanted to make Camera Awesome look new again by giving it flat design overhaul.
In addition, we wanted to find areas where we could improve the UX. To do so, we worked directly with customers and used information gathered by our customer support team to identify who our customers were and how they used the app. We felt strongly that our target customer was a photography enthusiast who wanted a feature rich mobile camera experience, optimized for outdoor use.
I joined the Camera Awesome team as lead designer in early 2013. As lead designer I collaborated with engineers and product managers to establish the 2.0 vision, gave Camera Awesome a “flat design” visual overhaul, dramatically streamlined the image asset library, and executed final visual and icon design.
Improving the camera interface
Having a clearer picture of who we were designing for allowed me to start exploring ways to improve the most important interface in the app: the camera. We identified a couple key improvements:
Larger shutter button with increased contrast for better usability in bright sunlight
Simplified camera modes display using text only labels for better readability
Reorganized top bar that surfaces flash and front/back camera toggles
M O R E S C R E E N S
Rebuilding the icon set
Camera Awesome’s original icon set consisted of over 360 unique assets. Through our redesign, we reduced this number to 120, but still needed to give each icon a visual update consistent with the newly released iOS 7. I was responsible for redesigning each of these new icons from scratch. Here are some examples of how the icons were changed, as well as a small selection of the new icons with idle/active states for each:
Refreshing the editor and camera roll
One of Camera Awesome’s most popular features was the photo editor. We didn’t want to mess with a good thing, so most of the interactions remained the same, but I gave the experience a flat design polish. The app also had its own camera roll which also required an update. Here are some of the results of that exercise:
M O R E S C R E E N S
With Camera Awesome 2.0 we achieved one of our primary goals: to move toward a flat design and dramatically reduce the image assets required. This not only positioned Camera Awesome as a design-forward app in the marketplace, but also greatly improved its speed and performance.
Shortly after, Apple began making changes to its camera API, which would’ve required us to completely overhaul our code base to maintain the app. For this reason, SmugMug decided to pull all design and engineering resources from Camera Awesome, eventually removing it from the App Store.
As avid photographers ourselves, we created Camera Awesome as a labor of love. We still love it! Unfortunately, Apple made some major changes to the app development requirements for iOS updates—changes that meant we’d have to scrap Camera Awesome and rebuild it from the ground up. Instead of investing considerable resources into that effort, we chose to focus on our core product.