Editors' Note: The download button opens the iTunes App Store, where you may continue the download process. You must have iTunes installed with an active iTunes account in order to download and install the software. This download may not be available in some countries.
Sporting some interesting user interface conventions and a fairly powerful set of image-editing tools, iPhoto makes a fairly splashy debut, especially at the relatively reasonable price of $4.99. Though it lacks some of the capabilities of the more expensive Photoshop Touch, including cross-iOS/Android compatibility and compositing, it looks like it has a reasonably broad image-editing feature set and a major advantage: it can handle images up to 19 megapixels, while Adobe's app is limited to 1,600x1,600 pixels. Though it was launched with the new iPad--and will probably be really nice to use with that model's high-resolution Retina Display and quad-core processor--iPhoto will also run on an iPad 2 and iPhone 4/4S.
The app's browser interface supports side-by-side comparisons, flagging, favoriting, and the ability to select photos similar to the selection, which seems to mean photos shot around the same time with similar compositions. You can add captions here as well.
The adjustment interface, in which you can directly drag on the image to change parameters like saturation, exposure, contrast, and so on, isn't new, but is probably new to tablets and touch. Unlike Photoshop Touch, there are no masking or selection tools; the best you can do is crop the image if the offending object is near the edge of the frame. The whizziest of the automation tools is autostraightening based on horizon lines in the photos.
Apple rather misleadingly terms its localized adjustment tools "brushes"--misleading because I think people associate brushes with painting. Nevertheless, these can be really useful, and there's automatic edge detection to allow it to protect areas against changes; that's very nice, but the changes are so subtle, at least on my old low-resolution iPad 2, that it's hard to tell if it's working. You can perform localized changes to saturation, brightness, and sharpness, plus there's a red-eye removal brush and a Repair brush for blemish-removal-type operations. Overall, the adjustments underwhelmed, as they don't seem cumulative. In other words, you get one sharpness brushstroke over a given set of pixels. And the quality was meh: for instance, the Repair brush just blurred over the offending pixels.
The special-effects selection doesn't compare with what you get in a lot of apps out there, however. Your choices are a handful of variations on six themes: Artistic (such as watercolor, oil paint, and tilt shift), Black and White, Duotone, Cooler/Warmer, Vintage (various film tones), and a monochrome with saturated color call-out called Aura. You can adjust the intensity of some of the effects. The swatch-fan interface, which presents you with variations on each of the options, is cute but the thumbnails look too small for actually selecting from. I think I'd prefer it to use the photo browser area on the left of the screen for that instead.
Here iPhoto gets a bit authoritarian, too. It won't let you apply an effect and then use a brush. If you try, it peels back and shows you the previous non-global-adjusted version, waits for you to apply your change, then reapplies the effect. Nor can I figure out a way to apply multiple effects.
Finally, there are a few ways to share and display photos. Photo Journals automatically and interactively creates albums of your photos that you can supplement with captions, maps, and dates, though it can only automatically insert a date based on photo metadata. You can export a Photo Journal as a Web page via iCloud as well. Photo Beaming will allow you to send the full-resolution image to another iOS device, via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. You can also stream them to a TV via an Apple TV or upload them directly to Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter. It looks like the captions transfer wherever an API permits.
Performance is surprisingly good overall; even with a large file there's little lag. (It seems to use progressive rendering and low-resolution proxies.) One annoyance is that iPhoto periodically feels compelled to update the photo albums, too often and usually while you're in the middle of something else. It would be nice to be able to control the frequency setting. It also slows down considerably as you apply more brushes and effects.
While iPhoto has all the sleek user interface touches that you'd expect from an Apple app and a broad set of features on paper, I was a bit disappointed by what feels like a constrained range to its tools. One possibility is that the changes it makes are simply too subtle for the limited color and tonal gamut of the iPad 2's display, and that it will take the high-resolution and increased gamut of this year's model to really show what the app can do.
Featuring an all-new, streamlined design thats more beautiful and simpler than ever, iPhoto gives you powerful yet easy ways to browse,organize, edit, and share your photos. Enhance your pictures with Multi-Touch tools that let you adjust color, exposure and apply beautifulphoto effects. Create custom slideshows that you can pause, rewind, and fast-forward using touch gestures. Share your favorite photos bypublishing them as web journals via iCloud. Order professional-quality prints in traditional sizes or as square prints, posters, and stunningwide-format panoramas. You can even turn your favorite photos into gorgeous hardcover photo books using just a few taps and swipes onyour iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.Smart Browsing Use simple gestures to quickly sort through hundreds or thousands of photos Tap to flag any photo, apply a descriptive tag, or mark it as a favorite Advanced filtering lets you find just the photos you want by multiple criteria, such as Flag, Tags, and FavoritesMulti-Touch Editing Simply touch and drag the parts of the image you want to change Use gestures to selectively adjust blue skies, greenery, and warmth Drag the white balance loupe to make precise color corrections All image adjustments are completely nondestructiveBrushes Use your fingertip to paint photo adjustments right where you need them Lighten, darken, and change saturation or sharpness selectively Paint out spots and blemishes with a powerful Repair brush Brush away red-eye or use the Soften brush to minimize wrinklesDazzling Effects Enhance your photos with dozens of beautiful Apple-designed effects Use the new Drama effects to accentuate color contrast in your images Create a perfectly toned black-and-white photo by simply dragging your finger Pinch and zoom a vignette or tilt-shift filter to focus on a key part of the photoProfessional-Quality Photo Books Create beautiful, customized hardcover photo books Choose one of four elegant Apple-designed square-format themes Select a set of photos and iPhoto automatically flows them into a book Use simple gestures to swap photos and pages Your book is uploaded to Apple for professional printing and binding Books can be shipped to multiple recipients in a single orderCustom Photo Prints Sizes include traditional (such as 4x6 or 8x10), square and even panoramic formats Print your photos as posters up to 20x30 inches With the Auto-Sized option, choose a height and your photos will be printed in variable widths to preserve the original aspect ratio Choose between glossy and lustre finishes Your photos areuploaded to Apple,printed on high-quality paper, and shipped directly to youWeb Journals Share your stories in a whole new way as beautiful photo journals iPhoto automatically flows your pictures into a great-looking layout thats fun to personalize Touch and drag to add captions, maps, dates, weather, national flags, and even local currency Publish your photo journals to iCloud as stunning web pagesInteractive Slideshows Choose one of 12 Apple-designed themes, including new themes such as Flip-Up and Portfolio Use gestures to pause, rewind, and fast-forward your slideshows Customize the order of your photos Share slideshows via iCloud and invite friends and family to view them in a web browserOther Great iPhoto Features Edit high-resolution photosup to 36.5 megapixelson certain devices Share photos directly to iMovie and other compatible iOS apps Use AirPlay to stream photos and slideshows to Apple TVSome features require an iCloud account and/or compatible Internet access.AirPlay is compatible with the second-generation Apple TV or later.iPhoto print products are available in the U.S., Canada, Japan, and select countries in Europe and Asia Pacific.
What's new in this version:
All-new streamlined design Create and order professionally printed hardback photo books Order pro-quality prints in a variety of sizes, including square and panoramic Create custom slideshows that can be interactively controlled during playback with touch gestures New photo effects, including Drama, Camera Filters and improved Black & White Advanced search controls for filtering photo views by multiple criteria, such as Favourites, Tags and Flags Share photos directly from iPhoto using Messages... See all new features »