Announced last year, Apple has released a developer preview of their new Photos app for Mac OS X. This is intended to be the next generation photos app for Mac, replacing both iPhoto and Aperture. Neither of those apps will be receiving updates. Apple hopes that its customers will rejoice at the release of Photos, a streamlined application that has heavy ties to iCloud. In advance of its public release, we’ve outlined some of the key things you should know about Photos for Mac and the eventual transition from iPhoto or Aperture.
1. It’s fast!
iPhoto is plenty of things, but one thing it’s not is fast. In fact, with a fair amount of photos installed, it can be incredibly sluggish. A number of news outlets have had early previews of the new Photos app. There’s been one common theme. Photos is faster, much faster. As libraries continue to increase in size, speed is the gift that keeps giving.
2. iOS-ification of Mac OS X
Apple is making Photos more like Photos on iOS and thus creating synergy between the two apps. The biggest changes come to the UI and organization of your photos. The 2015 Photos for Mac app instantly organizes your photos into Year, Collections and Moments. You can read more about how it’s done on iOS, which is similar to Photos on Mac OS X.
3. No limits!
There are no limits the number of photos you can store. With iPhoto and My Photo Stream, you were limited to the number of uploads per hour, per day and per month. These were large numbers (1,000 photos per hour max), but Photos if free of any sort of restrictions.
4. iCloud Photo Library Will Cost You
If you opt for iCloud Photo Library, all of your photos will sync across all of your devices. If you make an edit on your Mac, it’ll show up on your iPhone or iPad in a matter of seconds. You can also store full resolution versions on your iCloud Drive. If you computer craps out, your photo library is safe and secure. All this comes at a price, well for most folks. It comes with the same 5GB of free space. 5GB is roughly 2,375 iPhone photos. Assuming you’re like most, you’re already using your iCloud Drive for backups and document storage, so you’ll have even less for your photos. For most, that means you’ll be upgrading your storage in order to use this feature. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. For one, there is a significant amount of convenience coupled with a fantastic backup solution.
5. You can still use iPhoto or Aperture
While early previews have Photos being a nice improvement over iPhoto, it’s still very early in development. If you have a preference for either iPhoto or Aperture, those are going to continue working well after the release of Photos. Deciding to wait for a few maintenance releases, might not be such a bad idea. Photos won’t replace Aperture, which is skewed towards professional photographers. Those folks are better off sticking with their current app and looking at Adobe’s Lightroom as an option. Adobe has directions for making the transition from Aperture to Lightroom.
6. It’s Missing Features
According to David Pogue, Photos will be missing some key features when it’s launched to the public. Photos is missing a number of features that are available today in iPhoto including flags, star ratings, events, round-trip editing in a another app and the ability to sort albums by keyword, title and rating. While this might sound surprising, it’s become the Apple way. There have been a number of major application upgrades that followed the same path with Pages, Numbers, Final Cut and others . These were all major re-writes that at launch were missing features. Over time, these should get rolled back into the program.
7. Apple Ecosystem Lock
If you’ve ever looked for an original photo in your iPhoto library, you quickly release that you’re not going to find a folder filled with all of your JPEGs. These can however be located if you control-click on your iPhoto Library and select Show Package Contents. If you navigate to Masters > Date > Month > Day, you’ll find your original photos. Using Photos, The Verge notes that “Photos for OS X obfuscates the file system even more than iPhoto or Aperture do — once you import photos from your camera, it seems to be impossible to locate the original file in the Finder, even if you have Photos set to store the original, full-size images on your computer rather than only keep them in iCloud.”
Like iPhoto, this app will provide a way to export your photos, so it’s not as if they are locked away and the key is thrown into Tim Cook’s desk.
It’s available today as a developer preview. At some point in the coming months, Apple is expected to offer it as a public beta. The release of Photos 1.0 is still slated for sometime this Spring.
This is a developer preview. That means it’s not fully baked and there could be more features added by the time this reaches 1.0. In time, we should have feature parity with iPhoto, but in a slick, fast new app. If you are tied to the Apple ecosystem, this has all the appearances of a big win for customers. The 5GB cap is still laughable, but recent price cuts to iCloud Storage make it easily affordable. For $0.99 per month, you can upgrade to 20GB of storage. $3.99 brings you to 200GB.
Are you going to make the jump to Photos for Mac, when it arrives this Spring?