iPhoto: A New Way

One of the lesser annoucements on March 7th (which I feel was slightly overshadowed by the new iPad and new Apple TV) was the announcement of iPhoto for the iPad. This release brought all of Apple’s iLife software to the iPad (Garageband and iMovie had previously been released along with the iPad 2 back in March 2011). iPhoto really needs no introduction as most Mac users are used to it already (it comes in the iLife package which is included with every new Mac bought) so let’s jump straight in and see what the iPad version has to offer and, more importantly, whether it matches up to its bigger brother on the Mac.

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iPhoto is available from the App Store and currently retails at $4.99. Unfortunately, due to the processing power required by the app, you’ll need either a second or third generation iPad to run it (the app will also run on the iPhone 4 and 4S).

iPhoto for iPad is available from the App Store, priced at $4.99.

iPhoto for iPad is available from the App Store, priced at $4.99.

If you’ve used iPhoto on the Mac, then the iPad version is fairly easy to get used to. Apart from a different interface, which has been optimised for tablets, and a different style of photo editing, the underlying features are very much the same.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in and see what features iPhoto for iPad has to offer.


iPhoto for iPad still packs the same amount of features as the Mac version, and for a program which is aimed at consumers (rather than professional photographers), there are plenty worth shouting about. iPhoto integrates with your photo library on your iPad, so any pictures on your iPad appear in iPhoto and vice-versa. If you’ve got Photo Stream set up on iCloud, then iPhoto works with this as well (i.e. you can edit photos taken on your iPhone directly on your iPad).


The pictures on your Camera Roll which can be edited on your iPad.

iPhoto for iPad features pretty much the same grouping for photos as the Mac version — your photos are sorted by either albums or events. You can also create photo journals (more on this later) using your photos and these can be viewed or shared directly from your iPad.

Image Editing

iPhoto features the same set of photo editing tools as the Mac version and for a tablet image editor, you can’t really beat them. Owing to the new touch-optimised interface, photo editing is now far easier than on your Mac and you can get almost anything done within a few taps. To edit your photo, you first have to tap on it to bring it up onto the main screen then tap “Edit” in the top-right hand corner. This then brings up the editing view of iPhoto, which runs along the bottom of the screen.

iPhoto Default

The default editing view of iPhoto.

You can crop and straighten your photo by ± 30° either clockwise or counterclockwise whilst in the Edit view.

Or you can rotate it a full 360° whilst in the default view by double-tapping and rotating in the relevant direction.

Cropping iPhoto

Cropping and rotating an image can be done with a few touches.


Tapping on the next icon reveals the Exposure settings, where you can adjust the brightness, contrast and both the shadow and highlights of your photo. To do this, you simply drag the respective icon and iPhoto shows you a preview. If you want to apply this exposure to all your photos, then you can tap on the little cog on the bottom-right of the screen and select “Copy Exposure”.

iPhoto Exposure

Altering the exposure of your photo.

You can also tap on the picture and swipe vertically or horizontally to adjust the brightness and contrast respectively. To bring up the magnifying loupe, which gives you a more detailed insight of your picture at either 1x, 2x or 3x zoom, you simply tap and hold on your photo until it appears. You can drag it around and zoom both in and out.

Magnifying Loupe

The magnifying loupe allows you to examine parts of your photo in more detail.

Adjusting Colour Settings

iPhoto allows you to adjust the individual colour settings of your photo to give it a more appeal. You can adjust the overall saturation of your photo (to give more vivid or more neutral colours) as well as the intensity of blues and green, for example skies or landscapes.

Adjusting Colour Settings

Adjusting the colour settings can intensify greens and blues, or turn your whole picture black-and-white.

If there are people in your photo, then you can adjust the skin tones easily as well, however if you prefer to leave them well alone then iPhoto offers a “Preserve Skin Tones” feature, which does not alter them no matter what you do to your picture. You can also set and tweak the white balance of the photo to give the desired effect as well.

Brushes & Effects

Like the Mac version, iPhoto features the same brushes and effects which can be used to touch up part of your photo. You can repair areas of the image (if, for example, there was some dust on your lens or get rid of red-eye), saturate and desaturate areas of the image to make colours either more vivid or more neutral and lighten or darken areas. All you have to do is select the relevant brush and swipe over the area – iPhoto does the rest, and the results are extremely good.

Brushes iPhoto

The range of touching-up brushes available in iPhoto.

You can also add all sorts of effects to your images giving them a different dimension, and iPhoto comes with a built-in “effect fan”. You can create black-and-white images or duotone images straight from your iPad (such as sepia images) and although semi-professional photographers may be a little letdown at the limited range of effects, iPhoto is, after all, designed with consumers in mind and the built-in effects certainly can add an interesting touch to your photos.

Effects iPhoto

Effects can give your photos an interesting new dimension.

Sharing Your Photos

Once you’ve edited all your photos, you’ll of course want to share them with other people so they can see your fantastic creation. iPhoto can export photos to your iPad’s camera roll or you can e-mail them or beam them straight from the app. If you’ve got an AirPlay-enabled printer, then you can print them directly from your iPad and of course, you can upload pictures to Twitter, Facebook or Flickr.

Sharing iPhoto

iPhoto supports most common sharing options, such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and iCloud.

Another interesting feature of iPhoto is the ability to create photo journals either from complete albums or from individual photos. You can choose exactly which pictures are to go in the album, how they should be arranged and you can add all sorts of additional information, such as text, notes, quotes, memories, maps and even the weather forecast from that day.

Photo Journal iPhoto

A photo journal being created.

iPhoto stores all your photo journals locally however you can share them easily with iCloud or iTunes across all your devices.


iPhoto for iPad is Apple all over. It’s polished, sophisticated, sleek and so full of functionality that you really don’t mind parting with $4.99 to get it (especially when the Mac version is free anyway). The sheer ease-of-use and brilliant, intuitive interface is enough to make it one of my favourite iPad apps and, as an amateur photographer, I really do like it.

However, I do feel that iPhoto may be wasted on a lot of people. It’s really designed for the new iPad, seeing as no-one would want to edit the grainy images produced by the iPad 2’s pitiful camera and, unless you’ve got the iPad Camera Connection Kit (meaning you can upload photos directly on your iPad from your DSLR or whatever camera you use), then there’s no real point for it.

Yes, it’s a very novel way to edit your pictures and it is, in my opinion, far more fun to use than iPhoto on the Mac but it does have slightly limited functionality – unless you carry your iPad with you all the time. Having said that, it is a great app and it certainly does match its bigger brother (or should it now be twin brother) on the Mac. iPhoto for iPad is the perfect photography software for most people, making beautiful use of the display of the new iPad – that’s until Aperture for iPad comes out, of course.


Apple's famous photo editing software finally comes to the iPad, with a redesigned interface for tablets.