Apple's Photos app is a work in progress

Yesterday, Apple released OS X 10.10.3 and iOS 8.3. The new version of OS X came with Apple's new Photos app which was announced with Yosemite at WWDC in June 2014 but it has taken until April 2015 to actually release it.

I have been an Aperture user for the past few years and with Apple retiring that product, I was disappointed but not surprised. There hadn't been a major update to Aperture for at least a couple of years and it was starting to feel stale.

I'm not a professional photographer but I do take more photos than most people. Aperture filled a need for me by providing good photo management and more features than iPhoto.

I wasn't expecting Photos would be a decent replacement for Aperture. Primarily the new Photos app was going to unify photos into one library across all devices and be a Mac version of the iOS app. It was also going to be be a decent replacement for iPhoto, probably lacking a few features in the early stages and getting those feature back over time. This is the same way that iWork for the Mac and iOS were integrated following the iCloud integration.

More demanding features were going to be left out as Apple gave photo management a well-deserved facelift. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone since this is the way that contemporary Apple works.

In creating software, Apple will generally choose sensible default settings and design, but provide little opportunity for advanced users to customise or expand software. This design choice works for many users where a simple task can be completed without needing to configure the product, because Apple has already done this.

This doesn't necessarily work in a large company where a product is purchased and needs to be all things to all users. Excel and Word have a lot of features with limited appeal, but if that feature is required with a company, there is often no substitute.

Along with sensible default settings and design, Apple is now providing the infrastructure so that multiple devices on the same iCloud account are all in sync automatically. Apple is removing friction.

I've occasionally considered having two computers (a laptop and a desktop) but it has always seemed a way too hard to keep everything that I'm working on in sync on both computers. For some tasks, file synchronisation is less of a problem than in the past. Apple have not solved it yet but they are getting closer. 

Professional apps just aren't a priority for Apple any more. I would say that Apple's professional apps (Final Cut Pro, Motion, Logic) are the exception to the design philosophy put forward above and would not be created by Apple today if they didn't already exist. 

Apple can't get rid of them because the pro apps sell the hardware to some users—and these are the users that buy expensive hardware.


Once OS X 10.10.3 downloaded and installed itself, I fired up the Photos app. It is a much cleaner interface than iPhoto and makes Aperture look extremely dated. 

The first thing I noticed in the app is that some Moments (or were they Collections) had a location and some didn't. I take photos with my iPhone and an Olympus E-M1 so most of my photos don't have a location. The location is prominently displayed above the Moment and the first thing I wanted to do was add the location. But Photos doesn't let you do that. Yet. That seems like a glaring omission to me.

I didn't get any further with using the app since any changes that I make I'll need to make again in Aperture at a later date. Maybe I'll check back again in a few months. Hopefully Apple will be releasing changes to Photos pretty quickly over the next few months.

The iCloud Photo Library is very appealing to me though. I'm hopeful that within a few months Photos will have all the features that I need so that I can start using iCloud.