iPhoto for iPad & iPhone v.2.0 review
The most recent Mac version of iPhoto may not have had much of an upgrade (see iPhoto vs Aperture: which Apple photo app is best for your needs), but its iOS counterpart - iPhoto 2.0 for iPad and iPhone - received a significant interface makeover as well as a number of new features.
iPhoto for iOS 2.0 review: Interface
Along with iOS 7 itself, iPhoto's interface was radically redesigned as part of Apple's purge of 'skeuomorphic' design elements (those that attempt to mimic their real-world counterparts, such as 'wood-effect' shelving graphics). So the original graphical interface that depicted a series of photo albums stacked neatly on shelves has been replaced by a straightforward grid containing thumbnail previews of photos and albums.
This is a cleaner look, even if it was (at the time of the update) a jarring change for those long used to Apple's old skeuomorphic tendencies. By now, however, most of us have got used to iOS 7's simpler visuals, and would find going back to iOS 6's cheesy tromp-l'oeil effects weirdly retro.
iPhoto 2.0’s interface is more in line with the cleaner look of iOS 7.
This change is more than just cosmetic, though, and there have also been some changes to the way that iPhoto organises your photo collection. The previous version of iPhoto for iOS provided four different ways of viewing your collection: Photos, Albums, Events and Journals. Those four categories have now been reduced to just three: Photos, Albums and 'Projects', with the latter combining journals, slideshows and the new options for designing and ordering professionally printed photobooks.
The Photos and Albums viewing modes in iPhoto now work more like the Photos and Albums views in the separate Photo app, which means that switching between the two apps doesn’t hurt your brain quite as much as it used to. The Photos view in iPhoto organises photos in chronological order, but you can tap the name of a particular month - such as April 2013 - by tapping it in the list, and you'll then switch into editing mode with previews of all the photos from that month displayed in the thumbnail grid on the left-hand side of the screen.
The Photos view also includes an improved Search tool that allows you to quickly locate photos that have been recently edited, marked as a 'favourite', or used in a web journal or slideshow. Apple's release notes also say that you can search for tags here too, but that option wasn’t visible in the Search tool on either our iPhone or iPad – although you can sort photos using tags when you switch into editing mode.
There are also some odd inconsistencies in the way that iPhoto interacts with other apps. You can use the Share menu in iPhoto to send copies of photos to your Camera Roll, but when you switch back to the Photo app those photos will be listed in a separate album rather than on the actual Camera Roll. Switch back to iPhoto again and it’s the other way around, with those photos listed under Camera Roll rather than in a separate album.
The way that photos, albums and events are organised in iPhoto has been changed too.
We also noticed that events imported across from the Mac version of iPhoto are now listed under Albums in the iOS version, which just seems sloppily inconsistent. And then there's the Photo Box album, which has been around for a while but still doesn't seem to make any sense. I can’t help wondering if the teams responsible for the Mac and iOS versions of iPhoto ever get together and compare notes, or whether each team just goes off and does its own thing.
iPhoto for iOS 2.0 review: Editing
The anti-skeuomorphic approach extends into the program's main editing mode too. The graphical representations of brushes that used to pop up from the bottom of the editing screen have been, er, brushed away and replaced by a simple list that you tap in order to select a particular brush effect.
The swatch that folded out to display filter effects has gone too, replaced by a full-screen display of the entire collection of effects. There are a few additions here too, with new Drama and Camera Filters, and finer tonal control over black and white photos. Some of these filters took a few seconds to apply on an older iPad 3 tablet, but the faster processors in the latest iPad and iPhone models, along with the 64bit support that's been added to this version of iPhoto, should improve performance.
There are no major new editing tools in this version of iPhoto, but we did notice a few small changes to the editing mode that are quite useful. You can adjust the size of the thumbnail grid on the left-hand side of the screen, adding or removing columns to show as many previews as you want. You can also delete photos from the Camera Roll from within iPhoto, and when you use the 'Original' button to switch between the original and edited versions of a photo a small label will appear on the screen to remind you of which version you're looking at.
We still find it annoying, though, that the Revert button - which returns a photo to its original, unedited state - is hidden down in the Options sub-menu, and is only available when you're browsing photos. It really ought to be up in the main menu bar along with the Undo button at all times during the editing process.
The other main change is the ability to design and order Photo Books, just as you've long been able to do with the Mac version of iPhoto.
This is pretty straightforward: you can simply select a template and specify the number of pages that you want in your Photo Book. You can drag and drop photos onto each page, and then use your fingers to zoom in and crop each image. As you proceed, the cost of the Photo Book is indicated in the menu bar at the top of the screen, and you can place an order for the printed book simply by tapping on the price icon.
The cleaner look of iPhoto 2.0 for iOS is slightly marred by the inconsistencies in the way that it organises your photo collection. However, these are relatively minor annoyances and iPhoto's new interface is, on the whole, more streamlined and better suited to rapidly skimming through large collections of photos on your iPad and iPhone. The changes to the main editing mode are also fairly modest, but do help to make editing a bit quicker, ensuring that this upgrade can definitely be recommended to all mobile iPhoto users.