Mossberg reviews Apple’s new Photos for Mac: ‘A big improvement over iPhoto’

“Apple has replaced iPhoto with a new, free Mac app called simply Photos. It’s much faster, less cluttered, and has more editing options, yet still makes them simple to use,” Walt Mossberg writes for Re/code. “It’s essentially a Mac app that catches up to the superior look and feel of the Photos apps on the iPhone and iPad, but with greater power.”

“I’ve been testing the new Photos app on two different Macs, and I consider it a big improvement over iPhoto,” Mossberg writes. “It’s faster, easier to use, and has a more modern feel.”

“And although the new Photos software can be used without the cloud service, I’ve been testing that, too, roping an iPhone and two iPads into the process. That’s because Apple says the two photo products are closely ‘intertwined,'” Mossberg writes. “Alas, my positive feelings about Photos on the Mac didn’t extend to iCloud Photo Library. While syncing my locally stored photo library, the cloud service failed to do its job properly.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yet again, regardless of what’s or who’s at fault, Apple comes off looking like cloud amateurs in the eyes of an important reviewer.


  1. Apple has never really done web services right. Back to the E-World days their ambitions always seemed to exceed their talent. They don’t seem to grasp that the same logic applied to devices and services doesn’t make sense. Charge a premium price for a high quality device? Absolutely. Charge a premium price for a less than efficient storage system that doesn’t work as well as your competitors? Illogical.

  2. Funny, yesterday I spoke with an Apple rep regarding iCloud and using it as a backup for the iPhone and iPad. Mainly I was wondering how much extra storage I should purchase, as well as talking about backing up my photos in the cloud. Even he did not sound enthusiastic, suggesting I might continue backing up through iTunes. Did not give me a lot of confidence for iCloud.

  3. Apple needs to hire new iCloud people with less-cloudy and clearer efforts to make it first class. I mean c’mon, Apple has unlimited money to get such an important service right. Funny I don’t really use their Cloud much and I never used the iPhoto since I didn’t really trust it. iTunes sync similarly could mess you up.

    I don’t like things so automated without clearer options or better warnings about what you are doing. Using non-Apple backup software is far more inclusive to options. I wiped out a cousins’s 2800 photos on iCloud simply just by bringing her Mac Book Pro back to life, with little interaction or warning. I still don’t know how or why that happened and I’m a very technical guy. Scary!

    1. re “a very technical guy”

      I don’t understand. I’m NOT a very technical guy, and for many years now, I have regarded having two of my own backups as MINIMUM… i.e. two different kinds of backup and in addition to anything on iCloud. Any service or piece of hardware can fail.

      1. [Lecture mode. You have been warned.]

        You are correct John Smith. But peterblood71 was only discussing iCloud dumping 2800 photos. He didn’t mention any other backup methods or their success.

        Here comes my usual lecture on backups:

        The #1 Rule Of Computing is to make a backup. Why? All computer drives die eventually.

        But we need not just one backup. We need two:

        1) The first backup is local, easy to access, preformed frequently, at last once a day. This is typically done on an external drive. Don’t bother backing up to another partition on your boot drive. It’s pointless.

        2) The second backup must be away from your computer, away from the building where you use it. At times of disaster, a least you have a remote backup with all your data. Traditionally this is done on an external drive that is taken elsewhere, away from where you work, each day. There should be two drives that are swapped every other day.

        I consider cloud backups, despite their typical snail’s pace of upload (thanks mainly to demented ISP services), to be entirely adequate as off-site backups. When you first join a cloud service, getting your entire backup loaded can take days or weeks, thoroughly annoying. But once the backup is floating there in the ‘cloud’, the incremental backups during the day are themselves fairly immediate, depending upon how large your uploading files are.

        I won’t go into my cloud services ratings. But the ideal service provides with end-to-end encryption that stops dead anyone but you being able to access your files everywhere, including the cloud. There are applications that will force encryption, such as Arq. There are services that offer their own encryption, such as SpiderOak and Carbonite.

        (One service I learned to avoid the hard way is Backblaze. They’re a paid service that managed to lose track of my encryption key, making my entire vast backup worthless. They never acknowledged their blunder and told me to get lost forever, which I gladly did. At least they refunded money for the service time I had not used. Apologies to all to whom I recommended Backblaze. 🙁 )

        1. I remember you recommending Blackblaze. Sorry to hear how things worked out with it.

          Personally, I use Dropbox, and then encrypt whatever I feel needs to be encrypted within it.

          The platform ubiquity of Dropbox is just totally unmatched, and is part of my workflow on Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android. And ironically, it’s much better integrated in iOS than iCloud.

          1. Arq, the excellent encryption application, now supports Dropbox.

            I’m personally trying to decide between buying more Dropbox space and using Arq for backups to it, OR buying into SpiderOak. The end result would be the same as SpiderOak offers everything DropBox provides, along with default ‘trust no one’ encryption. It’s coming down to who I’d rather provide with my money.

      2. I COMPLETELY agree. I have at least 3 backups for myself (one should be offsite). This gets expensive with Tb’s & Tb’s of material to manage.

        Yes I was appalled to find out my cousin kept it all on a cloud, especially things like pictures! WAAAY too trusting.

  4. Most people don’t have the patients to wait for all that data to be uploaded to the cloud the first time and then get frustrated – If you have 5000 photos it will take a while even with fast internet.. I will upload mine when I have a weekend for it all to happen.

    1. It runs in the background, it’s not like you babysit it or manually add each one yourself. I have 5 times that many photos and started my copy right away without giving it a second thought, let it run on its own overnight and saw it finish the next afternoon. What patience would you need to have exactly? It doesn’t require anything from you. Doing it is basically the same as not doing it at all, so how is it any different?

  5. Apple is floundering here.
    A quick delve into Photos with Show Package Contents reveals almost the *same file structure* as before. Under the dumbed down facade Photos is iPhoto.
    You have six (or more) copies of every image – iPhone Camera Roll, your iCloud stream, that stream on your Mac, thumbnails, Faces images and copies stored on Time Machine.
    I imported 340Mb of images into Photos and its Library grew by 750Mb.
    Sorry guys. Not impressive.

    1. Apple learned to make their own backups of every image in iPhoto. It wasn’t an original idea, but it’s a very wise idea. The concept is to have a SOURCE image that stays available at all times. It is never changed. Users can always go back to it if they mess up during editing. That means there will always be at least twice as much disk space used as the size of each image.

      If iPhoto/Photos was merely a cataloging system, I’d entirely see your point. But it’s not. It’s also a photo editing system. Therefore, this doubled disk space per image protocol is going to remain. Be glad of it. It’s watching your back while you edit.

      If an image editing program is not storing a source for you while you edit, that program is living back in the 20th century and it WILL bite you.

      1. I agree with Derek here. I worked for a startup for a couple of years that developed something like iPhoto for Windows (I use the term “like” as loosely as is humanly possible).

        In addition to having a backup to revert to, pretty much any app like this is going to also generate previews/thumbnails. If they don’t, then scrolling through your photos will take forever and your I/O will spike tremendously.

        The reality is that this approach adds only a little more than 2X the size of the library since the previews/thumbnails are much more compressed and lower resolution. Pro apps (I still love you Aperture!) allow you to adjust this, while consumer apps like iPhoto/Photos use a standard adjustment.

        Given the cost of storage and bandwidth, this is all a very small price to pay for reliability and workflow efficiency.

  6. In the UK and I’ve synced iMac, iPad and Two iPhones perfectly with the new photo app and everything works seamlessly with the cloud storage. What’s everyone else doing wrong? Keep up the great work Apple.

  7. If you read the article, the problem IMHO was because of iPhoto and a damaged photo that caused a duplication which cause the sync to fail. While Apple had to step in to fix it, and perhaps they’ve resolve the issue on their end, as the service begins to grow now that Photo’s is out, there may always be some bug that crops up.

    How many other cloud services are perfect? If all you ever focus on is iCloud, and MDN whines like a two year old assuming that Apple should always be perfect and had this all figured out already gets a little old..

  8. Yep.

    Apple wants a lot of $$$ from me to make this work… just not wiling to pay the piper. All of my photos are casual…and I’d like to keep them all. But only if I don’t have to pay Apple to do so. I’m working on my own “personal cloud”…and it will be free.

  9. History Repeats
    -“Mr. Jobs reportedly asked the assembled engineers and other MobileMe team members, “Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?” When one of those employees then volunteered a satisfactory answer, Mr. Jobs followed up with, “So why the fuck doesn’t it do that?”

    He then spent some 30 minutes berating the team, telling them that they had “tarnished Apple’s reputation,” and that they, “should hate each other for having let each other down.”

    He added, “[Walt] Mossberg, our friend, is no longer writing good things about us.”-

    Tim- it is your candy store. Stop playing with watches and fix what has already been put in the marketplace.

    1. I’m going to agree with you on “fix what has already been put in the marketplace.”

      I have zero issues with Apple trying to keep things simple so the masses can be successful with them. But the responsibility is then heavily on Apple to absolutely guarantee that everything is rock solid. For every one technical complexity they hide from users (and troubleshooters) they need to show The Ghost of Steve why they can be so certain the removal of that complexity won’t come back to bite them.

      • 10.10.2 turned on the firewall on a machine we were using (non-server OS) to host internal DNS. Good move, one could argue, but no notice given.

      • Somewhere here in 10.10.1 to 10.10.3 the Server Calendar Service either switched to using port 8443 or discontinued listening on 443. Or iOS 8.3 switched from 8443 to 443. The end result is we started noticing that iOS devices were not participating in the shared calendar service of Server 4.3 on 10.10.3 when they had been the day or so before. And after you tap through the dozen screens to get to where you can change the port in iOS you feel really confident that this was not a mass-hallucination-action in which all of your employees have no recollection of going through and breaking their calendar connection on the same day! So “Yay!” we figured that out, but then iOS 8.3 didn’t *merge* calendar information (like appointments made on your iPhone) into the reconnected server — it poofed them into the bit-bucket!

      • Software Update was entertaining with 10.10.3 and Server 4.3 hitting the same day. We opted for “Update All” and were told that “This version of Server requires 10.10.3, Click Okay to download a version of Server that is supported by your current operating system.” (not verbatim, but materially correct)

      • We used to keep applications off the boot volume so that each OS update could be applied to a wiped boot volume with less disruption. That is until Software Update downloaded Numbers 5.01, Pages 5.01 and Keynote 5.01 every single night until we realized SU got its manifest of installed software from some process that didn’t include the path to the software in question. Our internet service provider was thankfully sympathetic to our explanation of why evening bandwidth utilization was so out of whack.

      Our development teams file bugs all the time, understanding that software has bugs. And so, yes, they file bugs about user-level stuff like these issues, but it seems to be growing in frequency and importance.

  10. I wanted to use iCloud with Photos and pay Apple more for storage. But “referenced” files don’t synch, and no way am I letting Photos suck 15 years of pictures into its tarball file folder.

    I have a simple filing system that has worked since I had Windows ’98. It worked well with iPhoto. Now every picture I ever edited in iPhoto shows up twice in Photos.

    I would have to manually “consolidate” every referenced file for iCloud to work, and that would duplicate every picture into the Photos library. Photos has already taken 50 gb of storage space from my Mac mini. No more.

  11. Where I used to be able to drag and drop photos to other apps on my Mac , sometimes it works, most other times not a chance. C’mon Apple, there’s much more to sharing than facething or flicker. Photos are meant to be shared. Make sure drag and drop works AND works well with EASE. i still find that the iOS and OS X people are on different planets. My iPhone and iPad play very nice together. My iPhone, iPad and Mac, not so much.

  12. A plain and ugly replacement for iPhoto, in fact a repeat of iTunes, which has lost its looks and charm.

    I can see that with the demise of Aperture, I’ll be over to Adobe before long.

    A thought: maybe Pixelmator can get on the job.

    1. Pixelmator is a fine image creation and editing piece of software, but it does nothing to solve organizing your photos. I hear rumors that Affinity is developing an app that sounds to fit between Aperture and iPhone and Pixelmator, because, well, it’s all rumors and whiteboards until it ships!!

  13. ” Yet again, regardless of what’s or who’s at fault, Apple comes off looking like cloud amateurs in the eyes of an important reviewer.”

    Unfortunately, Apple’s engineers evidently are cloud amateurs who keep biting off more than they can chew.

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