Apple has finally brought iPhoto to iOS, completing its iLife collection of apps – Garageband, iMovie and iPhoto. The iLife apps present a wealth of creative opportunity for a remarkably low price of just $4.99 per app. But is iPhoto a worthwhile addition?
Largely, it depends upon what you want to use it for. The app is not an in depth photo editor, though the editing tools it contains are useful and there are more than enough for the average user. Rather, iPhoto is an intuitive multipurpose application with which to interact with and process your photos. You can browse through and organise your images, select your favourites, edit them, present them in a variety of ways, and publish them in their variously presented formats on twitter, flickr and more.
All of the photos on your device will automatically show up in the app, in an album labelled ‘camera roll’. If you sync photos from your computer, they’ll show up in a separate folder within the app. You can swipe through individual photos or whiz through them via a photo reel. If you want to find photos that look similar (so you can decide which is the best to edit, for example), you simply double tap a photo and the app will find all similar images. If you really like an image, you can save it as a favourite. You can also flag photos (marking them out for whatever purpose you might have for them) or hide them, so that they don’t display in the app. You can add captions, view image information and create new albums for different images.
Although it might seem slightly confusing at first, all of this is really simple and easy to get to grips with, making browsing and selecting good photos an efficient, fun process. If you do ever have any problems, the app contains a help guide that explains all of its functions clearly and concisely. I admit that I was a little daunted by the app at first but upon reading this help guide, my worries about the app being overly complex were allayed.
Editing photos is simple. If you don’t want to fuss around with the nitty gritty of editing yourself, you can select an auto-enhance function that appears to produce similar results to that of the in-built ‘Photos’ auto-enhance function. Beyond this, though, the app contains a lot of different editing options, more than those present in other basic editing apps like Photoshop Express. You can change brightness, contrast, saturation and more. A brushes feature allows you to apply such effects to specific regions of your photograph rather than the photograph as a whole. You can choose for the brush to find the edges of the section that you want to edit, so that you only increase the saturation of the sky in landscape, for example.
Another useful tool is the cropping/rotation tool, which automatically detects horizons in photographs and, should you wish for it to, straightens the photographs out automatically. Alternatively, you can rotate and crop images manually, with a grid displaying as you do so to help you compose and align the image as accurately as you want. To this end, the app can also make use of the iPhone’s gyroscope as you rotate images – you simply tap on the rotation wheel and tilt the device to rotate the image. It’s a simple but especially effective addition that demonstrates the intuitive feel of the app.
My main complaint with the editing is that the majority of different tools are not labelled, instead merely denoted by their symbols. I expect that this could confuse many people who are unfamiliar with said symbols. Although there are many editing options on offer, it might be nice to have a few more to play with – a typing tool, distortion, maybe even curves or something a little more advanced. Still, for the amount offered at such a low price, it’s difficult to find much fault with what’s on offer.
The app also allows you to present your images in a variety of formats. Most notably, you can create journals – a collection of images composed in a tile format, where you can resize and rearrange the images as you wish. You also decide the texture/colour of the background upon which the pictures are placed. You can then upload the journal to iCloud and send friends a link to view it from. There’s also the option to view photos as a slideshow, with the app even allowing you to choose from a range of accompanying music. Both journals and slideshows are easy to set up and look slick.
As well as sharing photos via journals, the app allows you to beam photos to other iOS devices that have iPhoto installed. I’ve not been able to test this feature, but it sounds pretty awesome. You can also share photos via email, twitter, flickr and more. The app also includes mirroring. It’s great to have such a wealth of sharing options, with none of the obvious ones missing.
Overall, iPhoto is a brilliant addition to the iOS iLife line up. It’s a universal app, so it works on iPad too, and can be used in both landscape and portrait orientations. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on any devices earlier than the iPhone 4 or iPad 2. The app really streamlines the photo interaction process on your iDevice, allowing you to view, select, organise, edit and publish your photos. Although it can be a little confusing to navigate at first, this intimidating first impression quickly subsides and leaves behind a powerful photography application that is well worth downloading.