Apple has "completed" its suite of digital-hub applications by introducing iPhoto at Macworld Expo San Francisco 2002. Apple claims that the free Mac OS X-only program is the "missing link" in digital photography "that makes it incredibly easy to save, organize and share digital photos".

Like its iMovie, iTunes and iDVD siblings, iPhoto is powerful yet simple and elegant. The program makes it easy to import, edit and print digital photos, as well as organize and manage an entire photo collection containing thousands of photos.

iPhoto users can now easily view their photos in full-screen, cross-dissolved slide shows accompanied by their favourite music; automatically create custom Web pages of their photos; email their photos to friends and family; order professionally-processed Kodak prints and enlargements online; or easily create and order a custom-printed, linen-covered hard bound book of their photos online.

Photographic revolution "Digital cameras are revolutionizing the way we take pictures. iPhoto revolutionizes the way we save, organize, share and enjoy them," said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, as he demonstrated iPhoto during his keynote speech at Macworld Expo San Francisco 2002.

"Just as iTunes and iPod are changing the way people listen to music, iPhoto will change the way people manage and share their digital photos."

Jobs said that six million digital cameras were bought in 2001, in the US alone – representing 30 per cent of all camera sales. "This market is exploding," he claimed.

"But the digital-photography process right now is a chain of pain," he added. To import, edit and print digital photos requires multiple applications, and can be a "nightmare", he told the audience.

He continued: "Inkjets are marvels of the modern world, but to get the right results, you have to naviagte through too many settings. It's a real mess."

Apple set-out to sort this mess out, but went even further with iPhoto, which is sure to impress Windows users – so much so, hopes Apple, that they'll switch to Mac.

Save, organize and share iPhoto also makes saving, organizing and sharing digital photos simpler.

When a person plugs their digital camera into a Mac via USB or FireWire, iPhoto automatically imports, catalogues, stores and displays the photos on screen. Users can view individual shots in greater detail for precise cropping, or see hundreds of photos on the screen at once and quickly scroll through thousands to find the one they're looking for.

iPhoto organizes photos into digital albums for easy retrieval – Jobs described the process as like iTunes "play-lists for pictures". iPhoto also allows users to add names, comments or keywords to their photos.

With "one-click," users can view a full-screen photo slide-show accompanied by music. Photos can be emailed, exported to other applications, or automatically published on the Web via Apple’s iTools HomePage.

iPhoto takes over the printer driver's interface, reducing all options to a single, simpler interface.

Pro prints Users can also order professionally processed Kodak prints and enlargements online. Unlike traditional film processing, users can order just the prints they want, even up to a poster-sized 20-x-30-inch enlargement for just US$19.99. A UK-based service has not yet been announced.

Picture Book The feature of iPhoto that received the most gsps of appreciation from the keynote audience is its built-in page-layout program that lets you quickly create photo-books. The program comes with six supplied book designs (Classic, Story Book, Catalogue, Portfolio, Picture Book, and Year Book) which iPhoto uses to automatically create a custom book of photos. Each page can be customized to have one, two, three or four photos. A custom-printed, linen-covered hard-bound book of photos can be ordered online, for just US$29.99 for the first 10 pages and $3 for each additional page. UK availability and pricing for this service is still to be announced.

Apple's ColorSync colour-management software is utilized in every step of iPhoto's process.

OS X only iPhoto requires Mac OS X version 10.1.2 and a Macintosh with a built-in USB port. A Mac with at least a 400MHz PowerPC G3 processor and 256MB RAM is recommended.

To download iPhoto for free, and to see a complete list of compatible digital cameras and printers, visit

Visit our Expo round-up pages and picture gallery from the show.