Thursday, July 12, 2018

Apple Discontinues Its Own Photo Printing Service

Benjamin Mayo (via Steve Troughton-Smith, MacRumors):

Apple is discontinuing its Photo Print Products service, which has been integrated into iPhoto since its launch in 2002. The service expanded from simple prints, to albums, photo books, and calendars. It stayed around on the Mac when iPhoto was replaced with the Photos app a couple of years ago, but the service never made the leap to iOS.


Apple’s recommendation is that customers download a third-party app that includes a Photos Projects extension. This API was introduced in High Sierra, and allows photo services to integrate photo printing UI inside the Apple Photos app. Payment processing and printing is all handled by the third-party.

This is sad news. Even though I use Lightroom, I would import my photos into Photos in order to make prints and books. Though not as easy to use as iPhoto, in my opinion, it still provided a much better interface than the Web-based services, and I found Apple’s print products to be consistently high quality and more reliable. With Shutterfly, we had to get one book redone three times because the printer kept messing up. This, combined with the poor Mac App Store reviews for the third-party projects extensions, does not make me optimistic.

Update (2018-07-12): Cory Birdsong:

This is a major bummer. Look at what the Wirecutter had to say about it less than a year ago[…]

If you have a Mac, don’t bother with Shutterfly. Apple’s own Photo Books service makes a better photo book with brighter images and more handsome layouts. If you’ve ever used the Photos app before, you’ll find the software familiar and easy to use—Apple also offers a detailed tutorial if you need help. Plus, unlike any of the other services, the colors will print on the page how they looked on your screen, including the cover. A master printer and Wirecutter’s photo and design editors all fawned over the Apple photo book for its spot-on colors, gorgeous layouts, and small design elements, such as page numbers, panoramic spreads, and a dust jacket that matches the cover.

Our Apple book was delivered in immaculate condition in an elegant, plastic-wrapped white cardboard box that was neatly shipped inside another sturdy cardboard box. We also appreciate that Apple doesn’t make you play the coupon game to get a good price. A full-price Apple photo book will cost the same as, or less than, a Shutterfly book with a good coupon. We can’t recommend it as the best service for most people because you can only use the software on Apple computers. But for anyone who does use a Mac, it’s the best and cheapest photo book service available.

Update (2018-07-20): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Update (2018-08-01): Kyle Seth Gray:

Apple’s photo printing partner now has its app as a Photo Extension to order photo books through!

It’s called Motif.

Update (2018-08-02): Mitchel Broussard:

In July it was discovered that Apple is planning to discontinue its physical Photo Books printing service on September 30, 2018. With Apple’s first-party option disappearing, users will be left to create and buy physical books from third-party companies, and now one such company -- Mimeo Photos -- has announced the release of “identical” formats, templates, and book sizes that Apple Photo Books currently offers its users.

Update (2018-10-29): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

5 Comments RSS · Twitter

That does seem like a strange decision. However, I tried Apple's photo printing service ONCE a year ago. Out of 30 prints, 4 had blue or pink blotches on them (CMYK print head failure?). In 6+ years of ordering hundreds of prints from Flickr, which I think were printed via Shutterfly/HP, I never had one single bad photo. Maybe I just randomly got really unlucky, but it seems like Apple's photo printing had a serious issue with quality control. And there was no info that I could find anywhere that told me what to do or who to call if I had a problem with my order. What kind of customer service is that?

This is indeed sad news. I used this service to make an album for my son's first six months and give it out as gifts for family one Christmas. It was a seamless feature that made printing digital photos in a classy, near-professional way easy.

It seems Apple is slowly jettisoning all the nice features that set them apart as a technology maker.

[…] Michael Tsai, who linked to the Wirecutter’s roundup of the best photo book printing […]

This is indeed sad. I used the Apple Photo service a number of times and also Shutterfly and the Apple products were produced using better paper, richer and more consistent colors, and an overall higher quality result. Not sure where I will turn to for a replacement.

[…] Previously: Apple Discontinues Its Own Photo Printing Service. […]

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