Archive for February 8, 2015

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Photos for Mac

Joe Rossignol:

Following the release of the first OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 beta to developers this afternoon, the embargo has lifted for media outlets to publish their first impressions and hands-on reviews of the all-new Photos for OS X app. Below is a roundup of some of the more interesting comments and opinions about Photos for OS X, which combines iPhoto and Aperture into one for OS X Yosemite.

David Pogue:

In a couple of months, Apple will abandon iPhoto and replace it with a completely new program for OS X Yosemite called Photos for the Mac. Apple has also stopped work on Aperture, its professional photo app, although Apple says that Photos isn’t meant to be its replacement.


Whenever you’re looking at a tiny grid of tiny thumbnail images (in a Year, Collection, or Moment), you can hold your mouse down within the batch. A larger thumbnail sprouts from your cursor, and you can slide around within the mosaic to find a particular photo, or batch of them.


Here’s a slick trick: If you drag a photo into several albums, then editing it changes that photo everywhere. But if you copy and paste a photo into a different album, you can edit the individual photos independently. And as a bonus, doing this does not use up any more disk space.


If you’re worried about fitting an entire library of photos on a device that doesn’t have a ton of storage, like an iPhone or a MacBook Air with a small solid-state drive, you can turn on an ingenious feature called Optimize Mac Storage. It kicks in only when your photo collection becomes too big to fit. At that point, your original photos and videos get backed up to iCloud as usual, but not stored the same way on your phone or laptop. There, the Photos apps get much smaller versions. They give you enough resolution to view on the screen, but not enough to print.

Derrick Story:

We knew there would be some compromise when Apple folded its high-end Aperture and consumer iPhoto applications in to one program. Now that we have an official preview of Photos for OS X, we can see the direction they’re heading.


We do see some indicators, however, of the direction Apple is taking with Photos. And hardcore Aperture users will surely miss its advanced editing tools. In this area, I would say that early versions of Photos will feel more like iPhoto than Aperture.

My advice is for Aperture photographers to think about a 2-part strategy: what to do for 2015, then 2016 and beyond. For the remainder of this year, we have the luxury of sticking with Aperture on Yosemite and playing with Photos for OS X when it’s released. By the end of 2015, we all should have a pretty good idea of how the new software is going to stack up against Aperture.

Christopher Breen:

When you install Photos you’ll be offered the option to import your iPhoto library. (If you have more than one iPhoto library, Photos will ask you to choose one to import.) You can also import an Aperture library.

Opening one of these libraries in Photos doesn’t duplicate your existing images. You won’t find one set of images in an iPhoto library and another in a Photos library. Instead, the apps will look for images within a single library. Additionally, iPhoto and Aperture don’t become unusable after you’ve launched Photos. You’ll be asked which app you’d like to use with your images. You can choose iPhoto, if you like, with the caveat that any edits you make in a particular app—iPhotos or Photos—will appear only within the app you used to apply them. So, if you convert an image in Photos to black and white and then open that same image in iPhoto, you’ll see the unedited original color version.

iPhoto events and Aperture projects are converted to albums as neither of these items exist in Photos. Metadata including star ratings, flags, and color labels will be transformed into keywords and become searchable in Photos. Other IPTC metadata such as copyright, contact, and content data is retained as part of the image, but it’s not visible within Photos. Custom metadata fields aren’t transferred to Photos.

Christina Bonnington:

So what doesn’t Photos have? Photos does not have things like the granular Precision Brushes feature of Aperture. It does offer a retouching tool. Using that, you can adjust the size of the touch-up brush, but you don’t get to adjust the softness or the strength of this brush, or use the “Detect Edges” feature. As only an occasional Aperture user myself, I suspect there are other advanced adjustments professionals may notice missing, as well.

Serenity Caldwell:

Just like iPhoto, the Photos app supports opening and working with multiple libraries, but you won’t be able to unify multiple libraries within it.

That means that once you pick, say, your iPhoto library, you can’t import an Aperture library into that new Photos library. You can, however, create a separate Photos library (by holding down Option when launching the program) and import your second library into that.

If you want to unify your photos, we suggest combining your libraries into one master Aperture library first.


There’s a setting you can uncheck to just link to your photos in their existing locations, rather than directly importing/duplicating them.


[Stacks, Projects, and Events are] all converted to Albums (and folders holding albums) so that you don’t lose any of your prior organization. These albums are Mac-only, however; they don’t sync with your iOS devices.


My Photo Stream — which uploads the last 1000 photos (or 30 days’ worth) to the cloud and your Mac for free — is alive, well, and continuing into the foreseeable future with no plans on Apple’s part to change it. If you have iCloud Photo Library enabled, it will sidle off into the background and you shouldn’t really notice it. Those who choose to keep iCloud Photo Library disabled, however, will still see the My Photo Stream option.

Fat Cat Software:

My hope in the long run is to be able to have iPLM do all the same things it currently does with iPhoto libraries, but with Photos libraries as well. This includes things like copying between libraries, merging libraries together, eliminating duplicate photos, and so forth. It’s still too early to tell exactly what features we’ll be able to support with Photos though.

Update (2015-02-13): Jason Snell:

Photos feels more like the Mac version of the iOS Photos app than either iPhoto or Aperture, at least when browsing your photo library. Zooming out (which you can also do with a pinch on the trackpad) presents you first with a series of short events defined by location. Zoom further out and you’ll see larger spans of time and a list of locations. One more zoom and you’re left with a giant wash of photos separated by year.


If you want to edit your photo in an external tool such as Photoshop, there appears to be no way to do that, at least in this beta, beyond dragging an image out, editing it, and then dragging it back in. Here’s hoping Apple allows an external-editor feature or support for image-editing extensions of some sort in the future.


Never say never, but in my tests with a 5,450-image library, Photos seemed downright fast. Scrolling never lagged. Zooming in and out was speedy.

Jason Snell:

How can it not duplicate the photos, yet not risk losing all your data if you were to throw away your old iPhoto library? […] It creates hard links to the contents of your iPhoto library inside the Photos library. If you delete your iPhoto library, the files that were hard-linked from the Photos library still exist in the Photos library and aren’t deleted.


So what happens if you edit one of those files? Something very clever, it turns out: If I open the JPEG image from the migrated iPhoto library in Photoshop, edit it, and save it, that version is indeed altered—but the version in the Photos library is untouched. Basically, modifying that file causes the link between the two versions to break. They’re different, and no longer connected.

Jason Snell:

iPhone burst mode photos come in as stacks. If you take 50 photos in a very short amount of time with an SLR, though, those seem to just come through as a whole bunch of individual pictures.


As of this beta, you can sync everything in the system Photos library, or nothing. That’s it.

Joseph Linaschke:

When we first started talking about this last year, the discussion was that 3rd parties would be able to expand Photos by use of an Extensions architecture, allowing them to fill in the gaps, at least for editing, that Apple left behind. This is still the idea, however we will not be seeing this in Photos 1.0.


What I’m more concerned with is the missing features that I don’t see any value to Apple to add back in that a small but vocal group of us absolutely need in a professional photo editor. Renaming files on import. Custom metadata fields. Custom metadata views (both in a metadata window and overlaid on the photo itself). Scripting support (AppleScript support is present, but not as robustly as in Aperture). Batch processing. Custom export presets. Hierarchical keywords. Exporting of projects as libraries. Merging of libraries with intelligent duplicate handling. Opening in external editor apps (like Photoshop) with complete round-trip support. Tethered shooting. Stacks. Date and time correction (Date and time correction is in Photos 1.0). Compare view modes. Lift and stamp (Lift & Stamp is also present, however can currently only do one at a time). Multi-card import. Backup on import. And a whole lot more.


Last year, I was bullish on Photos eventually replacing Aperture. I no longer feel that way. I am sure it will be a great app — a really great app. And I’m sure that it will have enough features for the vast majority of users. […] Plainly put — I no longer believe that serious Aperture users should expect Photos to replace their photography management and editing needs. I am now recommending that advanced and professional users begin to explore other options.

Recover Data Lost Because of iCloud Sync Problems

Kirk McElhearn:

So, there are a couple of morals to this story. First, don’t trust iCloud. I don’t blame Realmac; it’s probably not their fault. I find it interesting that the data loss occurred overnight; I may have looked at my Clear list on my iPad yesterday evening, but I don’t recall doing so. If I had, I would have spotted that a list was missing. So my guess is that the data loss is due to iCloud itself.

Second, don’t use an app that doesn’t offer backups. I looked in my local folders and couldn’t find any readable files that I would have been able to recover from Time Machine backups. There’s a locally-stored .sqlite file, but it doesn’t contain the same data.

I won’t be trusting any important data to iCloud any more. I am slightly concerned about my contacts; I’ve had issues with them in the past. I know there are local and Time Machine backups that I could restore if I ever need to. But for the rest, iCloud is simply too precarious.

He used iExplorer to get the Core Data SQLite database out of his local iTunes backup.

Google 2-Step Verification in Mac OS X 10.10.3

Eric Slivka:

On OS X 10.10.2 and earlier, users setting up their machines to access Google accounts with 2-Step Verification enabled have had to use this app-specific password option. Users trying to log in with their standard Google account passwords are met with error messages informing them they need to use this option.


But as noticed by developer Jonathan Wight, the new OS X 10.10.3 beta now fully supports 2-Step Verification, allowing users to log in with their standard passwords and unique verification codes.

I guess Apple really does like embedded browser views.

Better Emoji in Mac OS X 10.10.3

Eric Slivka:

One immediately evident change is the menu option used to bring up the character palette where emoji and other symbols can be browsed and selected. The Character palette a is systemwide option generally accessed through the “Edit” menu in most Mac apps. On OS X 10.10.2 and earlier, the menu item is called “Special Characters,” while on OS X 10.10.3, it is labeled “Emoji & Symbols”. The change offers a clearer description of what can be accessed through the menu item while specifically giving a strong visibility boost to emoji.

Another significant change for emoji in OS X 10.10.3 is the apparent laying of groundwork to support skin tone modifiers proposed for the Unicode 8.0 standard.

See also: Wink in All Colors.

Update (2015-04-03): Paul Kafasis:

However, after much searching I realized I was to be let down once again. None of the emoji from the updated Unicode 7 spec are included. Apple continues to flip us the figurative bird by refusing to provide us with a literal middle finger. Diversity of races is surely a good thing, but where is the diversity for people who wish to communicate with widely recognized hand gestures? Surely we deserve satisfaction!

Nick Heer:

This is actually — no bullshit — a very good question. Apple tends to be super cautious about being family friendly, to a sometimes ridiculous degree, but the “Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended” emoji is a totally valid Unicode character, as much as the letter ‘p’ is. Does Apple’s avoidance of anything even slightly profane trump their full support of the Unicode character set? I don’t think it should. It’s a character, like anything else, and Apple should support it.

Update (2015-04-08): Jason Snell:

The latest betas of OS X and iOS add support for a single new emoji symbol: Raised Hand with Part Between Middle and Ring Finger. […] I assume this is a tribute to Leonard Nimoy, and it’s wonderful. No doubt someone at Apple is dutifully working on all these new emoji symbols, and they’ll eventually debut in a future OS update, but in the meantime, Spock’s salute has gone to a strange, new world: emoji.

Update (2015-04-09): Paul Kafasis:

Unfortunately, however, the much-sought-after “Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended” is still unavailable in either of Apple’s OSes. Worse, Apple recently closed the bug report your humble author filed in hopes of making this available to the eager masses!

Hotel Wi-Fi Test

Hotel Wi-Fi Test (via Ilja A. Iwas):

Because your results are bound to the hotel in which you are staying, our speed test is an excellent way to alert them about problems with the service they offer, and motivate them to make changes for the better. You can also offer praise for hotels that go above and beyond and offer great service. During your next hotel stay, visit, take the test, and start sharing so that better hotel WiFi becomes a reality for all of us.

Great idea, although it seems to have no test results for any of the hotels I stayed at in New England and Virginia over the last few years.