Hands On with iPhoto for iPad

Published Date
17 - Mar - 2012
| Last Updated
17 - Mar - 2012
 
Hands On with iPhoto for iPad

Yesterday at an event in San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Apple not only let the world in on details about its new iPad, but also showed off iLife consumer media apps for the iPad.

Headlining these was a brand-new iPhoto app, with new versions of iMovie, and GarageBand to boot—and unlike the new iPad, the apps are available immediately. Each app costs $4.99 in the iTunes App Store, but they're free upgrades for prior owners. Hot new features include Hollywood-style trailer creation in iMovie, as well as new Jam Sessions and Smart Strings in GarageBand.

But iPhoto is a completely new member of the group, and it's a stunner, featuring multitouch gestures for photo correction, brushes for applying effects onto specific areas of a photo, and "Journals" for creating attractive photo collections that can be shared on iCloud. The app also lets you identify similar photos with a double-tap, as well as flagging, favoriting, or removing images. As with any good photo editor, iPhoto for iPad offers a simple button that takes you right back to your original image view.

Getting Started with iPhoto for iPad

The first thing you need to know about the new iLife apps is that they require an update to iOS 5.1. You'll want to do that anyway, since, among other goodies, the 5.1 update brings the ability to delete Photo Stream photos, a new Camera app, fixes sound in TV shows and movies played on the iPad, and fixes some battery-draining bugs.

The home screen in iPhoto for iPad shows four tabs along the top: Albums, Photos, Events, and Journals. Tapping into any of these except for Journals, takes you to an individual photo page, and a grid icon displays thumbnails of all the photos in the album along the left (you can switch between one, two, or three columns for this, or move it to the right). As with some other clever iOS apps, a question mark button is always present, to show you overlays that explain what all the controls on the screen do or bring up help. Next to this, an undo arrow lets you backtrack at any time, and a super helpful button at top right lets you quickly view the original image after any amount of edits. A nearby "i" info icon shows camera, size, and date for the present photo.

Once you're in a photo page, you can tap the Edit button at top-right for a slew of options. Along the bottom left, icons access crop and straighten, exposure, color, brushes, and effects. In the middle are your Auto-Enhance (which worked fairly well for me except on difficult exposures), Rotate 90 degrees, Flag, Favorite, and an X for Hide. I would have preferred to see more than one auto option, however, with different options separated out for brightness, color, and so on.

Adjusting brightness and contrast is handled in a way that's innovative for the touch interface. A bar along the bottom represents the image from its darkest to lightest tones, and you can either tap on the picture and swipe up or down to increase or decrease brightness, and right or left to do the same for contrast. The Apple-award-winning SnapSeed for iPad uses a similar swiping approach. Alternatively, you can slide points on the bar at the bottom that correspond to the darkest and brightest points, or to points along the bar that indicate contrast. So moving the leftmost end of the bar can make a photo darker than its darkest value, and the same goes for brightness on the right. It's sort of a histogram without the graph.

The artist's palette icon offers the five adjusters shown along the bottom – saturation, blue skies, greenery, skin tones, and white balance. Just swipe up or down to increase or decrease each adjustment. Here it's asking for skin colors, but if you place your finger on sky blue, the option changes to darken or brighten the intensity of the sky. You can choose standard white balance settings like sun, clouds, or flash, but you can also set a custom white balance based on a person's skin in the photo or a neutral tone in the photo.

Cropping and straightening is also cleverly implemented. You can pinch and zoom within a set crop frame, or resize the frame with or without preserving aspect ratio. But neatest of all is the ability to level by holding the iPad at an angle after tapping on the compass-like control below the photo. This takes advantage of the device's accelerometer. You can also just twist two fingers on the photo.

 

Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.

Source: Hands On with iPhoto for iPad

 
Effects and Brushes
Both the Effects and Brushes tools open up a nifty-looking selection control that corresponds to their function. Brushes sprouts up realistic-looking paint brush images, while Effects, which we'll discuss first, brings up a fan-like set of color swatch sticks. You really have to check out the slideshow to see how slick these tools look.
 
Effects are in six groups: Warm & Cool, Duotone, Black & White, Vintage, and Artistic. Let's look at the last first, since it sounds interesting. Each effect can be adjusted with some kind of touch gesture. For example, the vignette effect lets you use two fingers to control the center point and extent of the darkening effect, while gradient effects let me swipe one finger up or down to position it. Unfortunately, there's only dark-edge vignetting; fading to white at the edges would be nice to have, too.
 
The oil paint and water color effects were just on or off, but they did a pretty impressive job nevertheless. I was a little disappointed that the tilt shift only worked exactly horizontally – with Snapseed I could rotate it to choose an in-focus area on an angle. Aura was a cool effect, making a picture look nearly black and white except for the strongest colors. The Vintage options were effective but limited compared to what you get in Snapseed.
 
Apple's iPhoto for iPad offers local edit brushes for repairing blemishes, red eye, saturation, desaturation, lightening, darkening, sharpening, and softening. These are incredibly simple to use and the blemish and soften tools in particular produced excellent effects, but I had trouble getting the red-eye removal to work. By comparison, iPhoto on the Mac removed red eye automatically in the same test photo.
 
Journals and Sharing
Unlike the basic iOS Photos app, you can share to Facebook from iPhoto, as well as through Twitter, email, and Flickr. But a couple of new options are also on the table: You can directly "beam" a photo to another iOS device in the vicinity. And you can also build an appealing "Journal." Six designs get you started with these attractive photo collections, with varying light and dark backgrounds and borders.
But not only can you create these mosaics with photos, but you can add text, notes, a calendar, maps and even a weather tile with date and location taken automatically from the photo. You can edit where and how big the photos appear with click-and-dragging and pinch gestures. Journals are a lot of fun to build and enhance, and when you're done, you can share it over a Web-based iCloud page. My test Journal wasn't visible, though I could view it in Safari on the iPad, where it looked expectedly elegant.
 
Desktop-esque Photo Editing
No one is going to confuse iPhoto for iPad with Adobe Photoshop. It's for consumers who just want to organize, correct, and enhance their photos and then share them in a variety of ways. And I was mightily impressed with the responsiveness of the photo-editing app on an iPad 2 – I never had to wait for an effect to take place or the image to be updated. IPhoto is certainly the most stylish, easy to use, and impressive iPad photo app around – no surprise given the source. And while it's a friendlier and more well-rounded choice, it still has a way to go in the sheer number of effects and adjustments it offers compared with our Editors' Choice, Snapseed.

Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.

Source: Hands On with iPhoto for iPad