Over the past year many photo editing apps have been released for the iPad or iPhone. Snapseed, PS Express, PhotoPad, and PhotoForge2 are a few recent examples. Each of them have some uniquely useful features, but it leaves one wishing there were one app that combines all of these nice features into one perfect photo app. Apple seems to have come at a long ways to achieving this with its release of iPhoto for iOS ($4.99), unveiled along with the New iPad a couple of weeks ago. It offers the photographers on-the-go with an end to end solution, from uploading and storing their pictures (up to 19 MB in size), to providing an elegant platform for viewing and editing them (particularly on the iPad), and finally sharing their photographs with friends and family.
iPhoto offers several ways to upload ones pictures into the iPad or iPhone. You can connect your camera or SD card directly to the iPad using the iPad camera connection kit ($35; this does not work on the iPhone). They can also be synchronized and transferred via iTunes. Probably the simplest way though to get your photographs into iPhoto is with PhotoStream, Apple’s free iCloud service for photographs. If you have other iOS 5.1 devices like the iPhone 4 or 4S and have PhotoStream activated, photographs taken with that device will automatically appear in the PhotoStream Album on your iPad.
Besides viewing the pictures on your iOS devices (and ‘beaming’ the photos between them), you can view them on a TV using Apple’s AirPlay functionality and an AppleTV ($109). Other options include connecting your device directly to your television or to a projector using Apple’s VGA ($35) or HDMI adapter ($35). To get a hard copy of the photographs, you can either send them directly to an AirPrinter compatible printer, or indirectly by emailing a copy to yourself and then opening that file using a computer connected to a printer.
iPhoto offers an easy way share photos to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or via Email. iPhoto also allows the user to create a photo ‘journal’ and publish it as a web page via iCloud.
iPhoto has some very nice, simple, and elegant editing features. It has the usual tools you would expect in such an app, but with an added touch. Adjusting the exposure or contrast can be done either with a swipe of your finger across the screen, or by using a nifty multifunctional slider tool at the bottom of the screen, or a combination of the two. You can adjust the entire image or paint a specific part of the image in ‘paint brush’ mode, using your finger as a brush. In combination with the zoom and edge detection tools, this permits editing of fine detail: lightening of a dark face; darkening an over exposed detail; softening a wrinkle or two; or adjusting a couple of red eyes. iPhoto offers a variety of ways to fine tune the white balance of the image, or adjust the colour of a specific feature in the image. Being able to compare the resulting image with the original image is convenient. A step by step undo / redo function is really quite useful.
iPhoto does lack a few features. It does not support editing of photos in the raw format. When transferring photos via iTunes it will limit the resolution to 3 MB. It lacks the ability of the app like ‘Skitch’ to draw arrows, circles or freehand on the photographs, as well it is not compatible with iPod touch or iPad 1.
iPhoto cannot match the sophistication or capability of programs like Adobe Photoshop suite. But it more than makes up with its simplicity, elegance and convenience.