Last week, as part of Apple’s unveiling of the new iPad, it also introduced the iOS version of iPhoto – similar to Apple’s popular photo management and editing software of the same name for the Mac. With the iOS camera increasingly replacing traditional point-and-shoot cameras and video cams, the new iPhoto should be welcomed by avid photo hobbyists who want to better organize and edit photos on their iOS devices.
iOS iPhoto ($4.99) only works on the iPhone 4 and 4S, the iPad 2 and the newest iPad, which went on sale March 16th. The software always requires the most recent iOS 5.1 or later software update.
Photo Management Features
While iPhoto works best on a larger screen iPad, my review is based on the optimized version of the iPhone. Compared to many other iOS photography apps, iPhoto packs in dozens of features and controls that could be overwhelming for some users, while hugely appreciated by others.
The iOS version of iPhoto includes all the photo management and editing features of the desktop version of the application, except for the very useful Smart Albums.
The app connects to all the photos in your mobile device’s Photo library, including the Camera Roll and images and videos copied to Photo Stream. Your library of photos get beautifully displayed in albums (see above screenshot) which mirror the albums setup of the device’s Photo Library.
An additional album in iPhoto contains copies of all your edited images, and thankfully any edits you perform on images in iPhoto do not overwrite the original in your Photo Library. You can also mark photos as Favorites (see the Awards icon in the Editor) and they get put into a separate Favorites Album in the app.
The menubar of the home screen consists of sections for Photos, Photo Events, and Journals – the latter of which (screenshot below) is unique to iOS iPhoto.
The editing features of iPhoto is where things start to get a little tricky and cumbersome. As an editing app, iPhoto is not like third-party photo apps (e.g., Instagram and Best Camera) in which you apply single tap filters and effects. Rather, iPhoto attempts to be a fully featured editing tool for correcting or adjusting exposure, white balance, color temperature and saturation, red-eye, spot and blemish removal, and much more.
iPhoto includes tools (tap the Toolbox icon in the menubar to access them) for cropping and rotating images, as well as converting them to black and white, sepia, and several other photo effects.
Though iPhoto has dozens of tools to choose from, you will definitely want to simply tap the magic wand icon which auto-enhances your images, saving you the trouble of doing manual adjustments.
In the top menubar of the Editor, you can tap the Before and After icon to quickly compare the changes you are making to your selected images.
As in the Mac version of iPhoto, you can also tap the gear icon on the bottom-right of the menubar in order to copy edits and adjustments you make to one photo, and apply them to a similar one. You also get the option to Revert (top left red button) back to the original state of the image. Again, all image adjustments are non-destructive. The original photo in your Photo Library is always kept in tack.
When you tap the Toolbox icon in the Editor, you get tools for straightening, cropping and rotating images, and another set of tools for adjusting the exposure and add contrast.
Under the same Toolbox there are photo brush tools for adjusting the colors of say blue skies, green plants, and skin tones. There are additional advance tools for adjusting the white balance of an image, and a palette of options that include Warm & Cool, Duotone, Black & White, Aura, Vintage, and Artistic effects.
All these tools are applied using multi-touch editing. At any time in the process you can shake your iOS device to bring up the undo button, or you can tap the Revert button to get back to the original state. All adjustments are automatically applied and saved as you make them.
iPhoto doesn’t of course have the professional tools you would find in Photoshop, Lightroom, or Aperture, but it is sufficient for photo hobbyists who want to use their supporting iPhone or iPad in much the same way they use the Mac version of the photo editing program.
As you might expect, you can post photos in your iPhoto library to your Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter account. In addition, the app also includes a way to beam photos between your iPhone and iPad, as well as stream them directly to your Apple TV with AirPlay.
You can also play slideshows directly from the app, as well as create what are called photo journals. These are based on a selected theme in which you add photos, text notes, quotes, titles, and even the date and geolocation the photo was taken. Journals can be exported to iCloud and iTunes and shared as a slide show on Apple TV.
In many ways you might consider iOS iPhoto to be more advanced and feature rich than its long established Mac version. Or you might find it too overwhelming for a mobile device. Either way, let us know what you think in the comments below.