Back in March Apple rolled out a new addition to their suite of built-in apps for Macs, this one called Photos. Photos is ultimately the replacement for iPhoto and Aperture which Apple has not completely done away with, but rather announced they will stop updating those programs moving forward.
Photos is the answer to what many people have wanted to see for years by bringing continuity to the Apple photo family. Photos makes it possible to take a picture on any device and store it in your iCloud Photo Library automatically. Once a photo is stored in your iCloud library it’s then possible to see all your photos on any device at any time. The beauty is that none of the photos are stored locally on your devices. Instead of photos taking up precious space on your iPhone or iPad, they are located in iCloud, but can be previewed on your device and downloaded at any time.
The trade off is stop storing all photos on your device and store them in iCloud. Every iCloud account is allotted 5GB of space for free. For some people, that will be enough to store their photos, but for those using their iPhone cameras regularly, this limit can quickly be surpassed. The remedy is to pay a small monthly fee. You can quickly upgrade your iCloud storage space by paying a tiered monthly fee.
Tiered Storage Packages in iCloud
5GB = Free
20 GB = $.99/month
200 GB = $3.99/month
500GB = $9.99/month
1TB = $19.99/month
The tradeoff to not upgrading your storage package is that you will eventually run out of free iCloud storage and your local iPhone storage may also fill up. Then you’re left fiddling with 3rd party apps and integrations which will never run or work as smoothly as those made by Apple. Multiple members of our team quickly jumped on the iCloud storage packages in order to take full advantage of Apple’s storage offerings, but I have personally stuck with my 5GB of free storage and have had no problems so far. You can always wait to pay for the storage later, but by waiting you run the risk of prices increasing!
I’m a curator of photos more than I am a collector. I often go through my photo library and delete old, unnecessary photos. There are plenty of people who would rather just hold on to every image they capture or they just don’t care about going in to their library so the thousands of useless photos don’t bother them. They want to go back and get whatever picture whenever they want it. I, however, know that I’ll only want to look back at the best of the best so I’m constantly picking through my library which helps keep my storage requirements low.
One of the great things about Photos is that the organizational flow is almost identical to that of the Photos app on your iOS devices. You’ve probably been using Photos on your mobile devices for at least the last year if not longer. But now there is seamless integration between working with Photos on your Mac and and your iPhone (or iPad).
While the integration with iCloud Photo Library is great, for me, the integration with my MacBook has proved invaluable. Having every photo I take on my iPhone show up automatically on my MacBook, ready to be edited, uploaded, and shared has simplified my life. Using Photos on my MacBook, I can organize and edit my pictures, share them with family members or friends (from within the app), and upload them to Facebook or Twitter without ever leaving the Photos app.
Photos was designed to simplify your life and reduce the friction between your devices. It absolutely succeeds. As a first generation app, there are obviously going to be some things left to be desired, but we’re really excited to see how Apple continues to develop this new program and make it more intuitive and useful for everyday use.
Here are some of the features and limitations of Photos:
- If you prefer to take most of your pictures on your iPhone, there’s now a way to sort between specialty photos and video. That includes things like panoramics, burst shots, slow motion and timelapse video. iOS already does this, but now you can do it on your Mac.
- Photos now includes an auto-crop tool that analyzes your picture to figure out where the horizon is and adjusts it according to the rules of composition.
- A new zoomed out view is also available for collections and years that makes thumbnails tiny. You can see the actual pictures by clicking and scrubbing down, similar to the functionality of iOS.
- If you’re an avid photographer who likes to shoot RAW or seriously edit your pictures, you’ll find Photos to be lacking as the native editing tools are minimal at best
- If you want to email a photo then you’ll be redirected to external apps. Instead of the built-in mail tool, you’ll have to take an extra step to email photos. Not a deal breaker, but not as easy as it could be.
- You can’t geotag photos (like you can on Instagram), but you can sort and search by where photos were taken.
- Can’t edit videos in the Photos app, it’ll redirect you to iMovie
Apple is always pushing the bar towards better, seamless integration and Photos allows us to do what we’ve wanted for so long that it’s hard to be overly distracted with the app’s shortcomings.
Give the app a shot. Take a picture on an iPhone, get on your Mac and edit the photo immediately in the Photos, then wake up the iPad and post the edited photo to Facebook. All without ever having to transfer files manually or go out of our way to make any of it happen. Apple will do the heavy lifting for you.
If you have any questions about Photos or have run in to any hiccups as you’re using the new app, reach out with a comment below or shoot us an email. We’d love to help however we can!