I wasn’t really planning to pick up iPhoto 11, as I felt that this year’s iLife wasn’t a big enough step forward for the suite of applications to be worth the full price tag for all of them. However, because of the App Store and their A la carte method of selling apps individually, I was able to purchase just iPhoto on it’s own for a very good price.
At first I didn’t think the changes would be that huge. From what I had seen during the Apple event where it was first announced, I didn’t get the sense that this was a major overhaul. While it’s true that it isn’t a major change, they have made a lot of small improvements to make the experience much better. Small things like layout changes, better full screen modes, better social sharing options and more.
In their information released, Apple only really mentioned the Facebook improvements, which are useful, but for someone who uses Flickr constantly for uploading and organising my photos, there are some small but very welcome changes to that integration as well. You can now opt to upload a photo directly to your photostream rather than a set, for times when you just want to upload a lone photo or two on their own. The upload interface is also much simplified and easier to understand. You simply click share and a pop-up menu appears which allows you to share your current selection, whether it be one picture, an album or more with the aforementioned services as well as by email, mobile me and also allows you to order prints.
From there, you are presented with a visual selection of your sets or albums, with the ability to post to your wall / photostream or create a new album or set directly from the menu. It used to be confusing and messy in the previous version to see your uploaded photos. They appeared as a list of sets in the main navigation menu. Now, you simply have a list of your activated services, and when you click on these, your sets open up in the main screen. You can even download photos from the services directly into your iPhoto library. This is great if you’ve had a computer failure or upgraded, especially if you back up your entire library in actual size to Flickr for example.
Another new feature in iLife 11 which is a trend in Mac OS Lion applications is the addition of a full-screen mode. Some people will complain that it’s un-intuitive and confusing how they’ve added this functionality due to the interface being inconsistent between modes. However, you only really have to adjust to the main functions in the sidebar moving to the botton of the screen and losing a couple of options from there, including access to the trash. It’s hardly a big problem but these few losses do mean you can’t spend your time using iPhoto in full screen mode exclusively.
Overall, the tweaks to the interface, the addition of more technical information in the photo info panel and the improved sharing options definitely make this a worthy £9 purchase, especially if like me, you use iPhoto constantly to organise, upload and share.
One final point is that I think it’s important to show Apple you support their App Store pricing by buying this app if you will benefit from it. Far too often in downloadable software and especially games, you don’t get the correct discount by buying digitally and Apple are doing the right thing here, so people need to vote with their wallets to encourage Apple and others that this is the correct pricing strategy for downloadable desktop apps.