This is Apple’s new iPhoto Replacement

WILL APPLE’S MOVE TOWARD “SIMPLER SOFTWARE” ACTUALLY PAY OFF?

In the good old days (that weren’t actually that long ago), Mac’s weren’t widely adopted. Windows had 97% percent of PC marketshare and the only people who bought Mac’s were the creative types. After all, it is believed that Bill Gates’ house was designed using a Macintosh. In 2002, in an attempt to grab up more of this new found market, Apple launched iPhoto, an image manipulation program made for Mac users. 13 years later and iPhoto has grown so much since then, and has become one of the more popular simple image editing apps. Users who wanted more ended up going for Apple’s more advanced image editing app, Aperture (which was released in 2005).

However, on Thursday, the 19th of April, Apple officially discontinued both iPhoto and Aperture when the latest update to Mac OS X Yosemite (10.10.3 for you number lovers) was released which brought the new Photos app, a replacement to both Aperture and iPhoto. Apple had announced that this change was coming, but chances are if you’re not the kind of person who craves technology like a vampire craves blood, you didn’t know this was coming. So be calm mortal being, and allow me to walk you through what has changed, why it has changed, and what this means for you.

WHAT HAS CHANGED?

Well, A lot. As technology has advanced, the camera on our phones have become so good that we’ve been taking more pictures. The more pictures we take, the harder it becomes to manage them all. Even Apple’s own solutions were confusing. You had iCloud photos, but you could only access them on iCloud or your phone and tablet. And if you imported that into iPhoto, you’d have another copy of that photo, and that just made things messy. So essentially what Apple has done is, they got rid of iPhoto and Aperture, and replaced it with Photos.app. You know that Photos app on your iPhone and iPad, with the little flower icon? Yeah, that same app is on your Mac now. This allows Apple to make everything more seamless. Also, instead of you needing iPhoto to edit your pictures, they just baked in image editing features into Photos. However, to call Photos an image editing app would be a stretch. It’s more of a “retouching” app if anything.

The app allows you to do some pretty basic color and lighting adjustments as well as has some filters or presets, but that’s pretty much it. Instead of having all the editing features that you probably wouldn’t look at unless you were serious about photography, Apple made it easier for people to just try and make their pictures look better, even if they didn’t know what they were doing. They implemented it in a new thing they call smart sliders, which basically means there are 2 main sliders that control everything, Color and Lighting. If users want more control, they can hit the drop-down which allows them to control contrast and saturation, etc. However, editing was never the app’s main intention. Photos was made first and foremost as a picture management platform and thats where it shines. The app uses iCloud’s Picture Library so that everytime you take a picture on your phone, it gets sent to your iCloud and is immediately accessible from your Computer / iPad and vice versa. You can choose to not use iCloud Photo Library but then you’ll have to depend on iCloud’s weird Photo Stream thing which only saves up to 1000 photos and auto delete’s every 30 days or some weird shit like that. Like seriously, if you want to take advantage of this, use the iCloud Photo Library feature. Beware though, because images take up space, and you’ll probably run out of the free 5GB limit pretty quick, which means you’ll pretty much have to buy more iCloud storage, which is not cheap.

Also, if you want to save space on your devices, you can choose to upload the full resolution image to iCloud and keep only lower called (smaller) pictures on said devices.

SO, DOES IT ACTUALLY WORK WELL?

I’m not an iPhone user, so I opted to have my library stored locally on my Mac instead of using the iCloud Photo Library, but a lot people who also had early access to Photos claim they can’t imagine how they lived without it. Although they are also now paying for iCloud Storage, on top of their already burdening Spotify and Netflix subscriptions.

I’ve been a hardcore Adobe Lightroom advocate since I started using it back in 2011. I decided to give Photos a shot a while back, and here’s my experience so far. I like it, but there’s a lot I don’t like. It’s organisational features are amazing, as someone with digital OCD, that’s a blessing. My photos are automatically organised by date and I don’t have to worry about one, straightforward view for looking at my pictures. I was shocked at how well the faces feature worked, which allowed me to create a separate view for every individual just by analysing their faces (I seriously only had to click on one image and it auto sorted the rest, it was kinda creepy).

One thing about the app I can’t shake is that if you don’t use the iCloud Photos Library feature and only use it as a local image organiser, all your pictures are stored on your Mac’s hard drive. As someone who has all his images stored on external hard drive’s, that really isn’t an option because I don’t want to import all my images and have them stored on my computer. Another thing is, as “smart” as Apple’s editing features are, I find them really constricting. There’s not a lot you can do, and while that’s great for most people as it doesn’t confuse you with too many knobs and buttons, I find that constricting.


BUT SHOULD YOU USE THIS?

If you used to use iPhoto to manage all your pictures, yes. I never used iPhoto but from what I hear it was kind of a mess, this is better. Don’t worry about your old iPhoto libraries and folders, Photos imports them seamlessly. If you have an iPhone and a Mac, YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES. It’ll make your life way easier.

If you don’t fall under these two categories, then there isn’t really that much that photos will be able to do for you. If you want just a simple app to organise your pictures, and you don’t have that many images, sure go ahead and give this a shot. You may just love it. I however, will stick to using Lightroom and VSCOcam paired with Google Photos for my backup solution.


This article ran a little long, so here’s the gist of it

  • iPhoto and Aperture have been merged into Photos
  • it gives you one experience across the iPhone, iPad and Mac (although you might have to pay for iCloud storage to take advantage of that)
  • It isn’t an advanced image editor, it’s really simple.
  • It’s great for organising, if you only use Apple products. If you live in a diverse ecosystem, there are better options.

This article first appeared on Rabelais Magazine.

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