Alongside the new iPad and updated Apple TV, Apple released iPhoto for iOS, thus completing the process of bringing the iLife trifecta to the iPhone and iPad.
With iPhoto for iOS [iTunes link] users get a robust photo editor in an easy-to-use package. Priced at just $4.99, the app is a wonder. Like its counterparts GarageBand and iMovie, iPhoto for iOS redefines what it means to be a mobile or tablet app by deftly combining the best elements of the desktop with iOS.
As an editor, iPhoto for iPhone and iPad is surprisingly robust. The RAW support isn’t perfect (in essence, edits are derived from the embedded JPEG and saved as JPEG), but it’s a start. The array of filters, editing options and brushes on par with — if not better than — what users can find in iPhoto ’11 for Mac. Even better, iPhoto for iOS makes it easy to share and publish photos to various social networks and photo services.
You can browse through photos sorted into albums. Albums are generated either automatically or manually within iPhoto for Mac.
iPhoto for iOS is a heavy-duty app. The requirements for the app are such that it requires an iPhone 4 or 4S and an iPad 2 or higher to run. While this might disappoint some original iPad owners, the limitation makes sense once you use the app.
The non-destructive editing that iPhoto is known for is on full display. It’s easy to make edits to a photo, quickly view how the photo looked untouched and revert or undo various edits. Just as with iPhoto for Mac, users can browse photos by events, albums and photos.
After selecting a photo, users can start editing using “Auto-Enhance,” Effects, Brushes, White Balance and Contrast tools. The Auto-Enhance feature applies pre-configured filters to a photo to try to make it look its best. Effects are basically filters, and include categories such as “Artistic,” “Vintage,” “Aura,” “Black and White” and “Duotone.”
I found the White Balance and Brushes tools to be the most useful. The Brushes include options such as “Repair,” “Red Eye” and “Desaturate.” Select a brush and then “paint” with your finger over the photo. Users can enable an option to “show brush strokes” to make it easier to see where an adjustment has been applied.
Likewise, the White Balance options are far more comprehensive than I was expecting. In addition to choosing white balance points from various perspectives — and applying preset options based on type of shot — users can also adjust specific types of color in an image.
It’s also remarkably easy to crop an image and skew or straighten that same image. I decided to do my best Instagram impression by applying a 1×1 crop and one of the vintage filters. For good measure, I also made the image askew.
Journals are one of the more interesting parts of iPhoto for iOS, if only because of the strong Web component. Journals are basically digital versions of the photo books that Apple includes in iPhoto and Aperture for OS X.
Users can arrange photos at will, and add pages, text headings, descriptions, captions and elements such as weather, location and even food. After completing a journal, a digital version can be shared with users via iCloud.
Journals are uploaded to iCloud and have the option of being assigned to a user’s home page. This home page isn’t easily accessible (unlike the former iWeb pages that MobileMe and .Mac users were given), but there is an option to email a link to the journal or collection.
I love the idea of making it easy to create private and semi-private photo websites on the iPhone or iPad. I do wish it was easier to access these journals from a desktop Web browser and that iPhoto for OS X included Journals support.
Sharing is an absolute requisite in any mobile or tablet photo app — whether it is for taking photos or editing. iPhoto for iOS supports Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, email, the iPhone Camera roll and iCloud. Uploads to Facebook and Flickr include options of applying tags or uploading to specific photosets. Users can also adjust their privacy settings for Flickr photos within the share option.
Sharing with Twitter will upload the image to Twitter’s image service and send out a tweet from the hooks built-in to iOS 5.
It’s hard to find a better way to spend $4.99 in the App Store than on iPhoto for iOS. While Adobe might not need to worry about Photoshop Touch (the apps are actually quite different), third-party photo editors, including App-of-the-Year Snapspeed have their work cut out for them. With iPhoto for iOS, Apple has managed to offer a great set of photo tools for amateurs, while still having enough features that will make more serious users consider using the iPad for first-pass adjustments.
Let us know in the comments what you think of iPhoto for iOS.