I've been using the new Photos App for a few months now, here are three things that you should know if you plan on using the new Photos App.
• If you use the iCloud Photo Library feature, which syncs all your photos across all your devices — you'll almost certainly need to buy more iCloud storage to take advantage of it.
• All the photos you take with your iPhone or import into the new Photos app are backed up to iCloud and shared seamlessly across your devices. Using it is a fantastic experience.
• If you don't want to try iCloud Photo Library, you can keep using the new Photos app as an iPhoto replacement, but you'll be stuck with the old My Photo Stream feature (and its restrictions) for syncing photos across your devices.
As simple as the new Photos App is, the devil is in the details, and there are quite a few details here. Some familiar features have moved or changed, and in classic Apple fashion, some have also been completely removed. Here are some things to be aware of.
How the new Photos App works
If you’ve been using the iCloud Photo Library beta for your iDevices (it came out with iOS 8), you’ll be familiar with how Photos for the Mac works. Rather than the "My Photo Stream" feature, which pushed 1,000 photos across your Mac and iOS devices, everything you shoot on your iPhone will be uploaded to your iCloud. Now, when you open up Photos on your Mac, you’ll see everything you've shot on your iPhone in a manner that’s almost identical to what you see in the Photos app on your iDevice — all your pics are organized by date and location. You can zoom out to a year overview or zoom in and see any particular photo or video.
You can have every pic in the cloud...if you so desire...
Potentially the most noteworthy feature about the new Photos app is that Apple no longer is using iCloud to simply share your photos across devices — should you choose, you can now store every image and video you shoot on your iDevice in your iCloud. To assist you without taking up a ton of storage, Apple is also giving users the option to optimize storage on their devices. Rather than locally storing every image in full resolution or high resolution, you can choose to have the full images live in your iCloud; smaller sized, optimized images that take up less storage space will instead be displayed on your iDevices and on your Mac as well. You can of course download the full size image at any time, if you feel so inclined. Now, if you decide on this setup, you’ll be trusting Apple to keep all the originals safe in iCloud. Thankfully, you can have it set so that the Photos app on your Mac keeps all the original, full-size images stored locally should you so choose.
Beyond providing a much better way of organizing your photos and videos across your devices, the new Photos app for does much of what iPhoto did — allowing you can make a variety of edits, create calendars and books, use facial recognition to sort photos by the people that are in them, share them with iCloud or across some third-party services, and much much more. Almost every feature in iPhoto is available in Photos, and Apple has, thank g-d, finally fixed its very confusing cloud-syncing solutions in favor of a much simpler and smarter solution.
As I mentioned above, this is a completely new app with changes to both its look and feel, and how you edit photos. But there are a few new features as well.
• If you take pics with an iPhone or iPad (and who doesn't?) , there's now a way to sort between photos and videos from Apple's newer devices. This includes things like panoramics, burst shots, slow motion, and timelapse video. Now you can do it on your Mac as well.
• Apple has changed the shared Activity View to look just like it does on iOS. The difference here is that any shared albums you have with friends now show up in the main source list instead of hidden away.
• A new auto-crop tool that looks at your photo to figure out where the horizon is, then adjusts it according to the rule of thirds.
• A new zoomed out view for collections and years that makes thumbnails tiny. You can see what pictures are by clicking, just like how it works on your iDevice.
• Finally, there's a new square book format if you're printing photos through Apple.
What’s not in the new Photos App that we are used to in iPhoto?
Almost everything that exists iPhoto exists in Photos, but some features did in fact not make it. Please note, I was using a pre-release version of the Photos App, and things may be added in future releases.
• The star rating system has given way to favoriting photos with hearts. Never fear, your existing star ratings are preserved from your old photos and accessible through by a simple search.
• iPhoto’s built-in mail tool is thankfully gone, replaced now by sending you to Yosemite’s Mail app.
• The syncing tools for Flickr and Facebook, gone! Replaced with the system-wide sharing tools.
• You can no longer geotag photos, however you can see, sort, and search by where photos were taken.
How does this handle storing photos on my Mac versus iCloud Photo Library?
Either you decide to keep your pics on your Mac, or sync up everything in your Photos library with your iCloud Photo Library. Simply put, that means no selecting certain photos of events to sync up. Power users might hate that, but the feature’s been designed so you don’t have to remember to flag items. It is absolutely worth noting that even if you choose to sync your photos with iCloud Photo Library, you are still able to keep the original files stored locally on your Mac while having your library mirrored across multiple devices.
Will I need to buy iCloud storage right away?
The new Photos App can be used without iCloud Photo Library, and thus not take up your iCloud storage. You can keep both photos and videos in the Photos app, similar to how you could with iPhoto and Aperture. You can also continue using iCloud’s Photo Stream feature, though it does not store full quality versions of your photos and won't transfer videos. Once you've upgraded to the iCloud Photo Library, your Photo Stream as you've known it is replaced by All Photos.
If you do want to turn on iCloud Photo Library, the Photos App will provide an estimation of how much storage it will take. If that amount goes over the 5GB of free free storage, you can purchase additional storage, similar to how it's done from your iDevice. Though Apple gives you 5GB for free, you’re sharing that space with your iCloud backups, as well as files you have stored in iCloud Drive. Photos you’ve taken on your iPhone count separately from those backups.
My sincere hope, now that Amazon has severely changed their cloud pricing, is that Apple, shortly follows suit. In the meantime, Apple offers four choices of additional iCloud storage (which have vary in price depending on what country you’re in). In the US, at least, it’s 99 cents a month for 20GB, $3.99 a month for 200GB, $9.99 a month for 500GB, and $19.99 a month to jump to 1TB. Amazon offers unlimited file storage for $60/month!
Ok, so what’s the plan for iPhoto and Aperture?
Both iPhoto and aperture will live on, for now, though there will be no further developments for either. The Photos App replaces iPhoto, so your library is transferred over. Aperture users, can continue to use Aperture if they want to make more advanced edits. But those edits WILL NOT sync over to the new Photos App, and vice versa.
Do I need to do anything to my photo library on iOS, iPhoto, or Aperture?
Quite simply, no. Apple has made it very easy for you to move your iPhoto or Aperture library into Photos and preserve your edits. However, because Apple changed some of its organizational tools, some things do get lost or changed from your iPhoto or Aperture library. Star ratings get turned into hearts (or favorites), and projects are turned into albums. Some other metadata is retained but will only show up in search. You will need to search for things like color labels and flags if you used them. If not no worries there. Also, if you’ve added any custom metadata fields to any photos in Aperture, those fields DO NOT carry over. For iOS users, there’s nothing to do. If you’ve turned on iCloud Photo Library, all your photos and albums will show up in Photos.
Phew! That's a basic overview of the new Photos App. I look forward to hearing about your trials once you've made the move...
Good Luck! And as always...Until next time...Best to you and your devices!