Last June, Apple announced that it would stop development of its Aperture and iPhoto apps and offer a single photo app in their place — Photos for OS X. Today, developers are getting their first glimpse of Photos, as it's bundled with the beta version of OS X 10.10.3.
Providing many of the features found in its mobile sibling, the Yosemite-only Photos for OS X offers an interface less cluttered than iPhoto, improved navigation, simpler yet more powerful editing tools, the ability to sync all your images to iCloud (though it doesn't require you to), and new options for creating books, cards, slideshows, calendars, and prints. I've had the opportunity to take an early look at Photos, and this is what I've found.
Photos has inherited some design elements from Apple's latest operating system as well as from iOS's Photos app. For example, there's a measure of transparency near the top of the window, reflecting the images behind it rather than the desktop. Toolbar items bear Yosemite's thinner design, and, like iTunes 12, you'll find buttons that provide you with different avenues for viewing your content — Photos, Shared, Albums, and Projects. (An Import button also appears when you've connected a compatible camera, mobile device, or media card.) They shake out this way.
Photos: As with Photos for iOS, you can see your images and movies organized in Years, Collections, and Moments views. In the highest level Years view you find very tiny images all created within a particular year. Click and hold on a thumbnail and you see a larger thumbnail. Click and drag and you can scrub through these thumbnails to locate the image you're after.
Click within one of the years and you're taken down a layer to Collections view, which comprises images captured during a particular time and in a specific place. This is akin to iPhoto's Events view, where you might find all the images from your camping trip.
Click again and you're taken to the Moments view — all the images you captured during your afternoon atop Half Dome, for instance. If you have a Mac with a trackpad you can navigate even more easily. To dig down from Year view, just stretch two fingers on the trackpad. Stretch again to move to the Moments view. To move back up the hierarchy, pinch.
If you click the place name that appears near the top-left of the window you're taken to a map that displays thumbnails along with the number of images associated with that location — all the images you've taken in Central Park, for example.
Shared: This serves a purpose similar to iPhoto's Shared entry. After enabling iCloud Photo Sharing you'll see the photo streams you're sharing as well as any streams others have chosen to share with you. Unlike with iPhoto's shared albums, Photos presents shared images in a much more elegant way — similar to something you might see on a well-designed photo sharing site.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.