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Apple finally transitions the last of its iLife apps to the mobile space with iPhoto, a new app that modernizes the way we manipulate images. It’s fast with a slick, touch-friendly UI, but users of the Mac version will discover it’s an island unto itself that eventually threatens to be hamstrung by storage limitations.
Unlike the desktop metaphor used by Adobe Photoshop Touch, iPhoto sets out to make image editing more finger-friendly with a distinctly Apple flair. Albums, Photos, and Events are presented on attractive glass shelves, which open into a clutter-free Edit mode, minimizing icons while retaining powerful features. In most ways, using iPhoto for iOS is faster and more intuitive than on the Mac--gone are the multiple mouse clicks required to accomplish simple tasks, swapped for the ability to adjust an image in as few as two taps. The universal app brings all of this magic to the iPhone 4 and 4S as well, making the price a bargain compared to most third-party image editing apps (including Adobe Photoshop Touch at $9.99).
iPhoto isn’t yet a complete replacement for the Mac version--there’s no Faces, Places (although GPS data is imported, when available), or Keywords, though Flags can be used to denote favorites, and Hide tucks away unwanted album images without actually deleting them. Books, Cards, and Calendars are also MIA, but images can be presented in a Slideshow, and the new Journal feature makes a handy iCloud-based scrapbook to share with loved ones.
For now, library management is iPhoto’s Achilles heel. Even a 64GB iPad will fill up in time, with no way to offload albums for archiving. Images can be saved to the Camera Roll or via iTunes Sharing, but do not retain edits when imported into Aperture, the way images tweaked in the Photos app do. Ideally we’d love to see an iCloud-based storage solution for backing up Albums, Photos, and Events--at present each device has its own iPhoto Library, although published Journals can be viewed (but not edited) across devices.
The bottom line. It took long enough, but iPhoto for iOS is mostly worth the wait, particularly for novice photographers who only own an iPad. Mac users will be forced to choose between maintaining a library on the computer or their favorite iOS device for now--a shame considering how liberating it is to edit photos with a tap. Despite this caveat, iPhoto has already pushed other third-party image editing apps right off our iOS devices.
New iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 4, or iPhone 4S running iOS 5.1 or later
Elegant, powerful image editing made simple for mobile users. Unique tools for everyday situations, such as improving sky or grass. Wide variety of options for sharing edited photos including Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Camera Roll, and iTunes. Universal app brings all of the same power to iPhone as well.
Frequent updates to the image library, especially when adding new images. Red Eye brush doesn’t provide immediate feedback after tapping. Library is tied to a single device with no way to archive Albums, Events, and Journals. Filter selection is a little weak compared to third-party apps.