Monday, March 2, 2015

Photos, Fear, and OS X

Cool new icon!
It’s a no-brainer that iPhoto needed to be rewritten from the ground up, no matter what they called the end product. Over the last couple years, I’ve found my iPhoto library increasingly slow, wonky, and crash-prone (to the extent that I actually made a new version of my library). So, I’ve been looking forward to the arrival of Photos for OSX, which Apple graciously allowed for test driving today.

First: a niggling complaint. They seem to have named this with the idea of making Google searches difficult. Photos, because a more generic name wasn’t actually possible. While searching for “iPhoto” gives you some pretty specific results, “Photos” is just a disaster as a search term. I understand that Apple is dropping the whole i-thing (expect a future iMac to just be a Mac), but have you every tried searching for information about “Pages” or even worse, “Numbers”?

I’ve got about 74,000 photos in my iPhoto library. Just a few snaps, really. I also keep coming back to a project to scan, date, and geotag the photos I took on film (remember film?). My iPhoto database is a tidy 215 GB. Really, nothing. Why should this be a problem?

So, I checked the App Store this morning and downloaded the OS 10.10.3 update. Yeah, there were other things I should have been doing. Oh well. (And I am now still dealing with a computer that sounds like a hairdryer.) I wandered away to give the thing time to install. When it finished, the iPhoto icon was gone from the dock (I put it back, as I’m not done with iPhoto quite yet, thank you), and the Photos icon was in its place. Nice icon. Photoslibraries get a nicer icon too. (By the way: the old: .photolibrary; the new .photoslibrary.)

First, yes, you can run them side-by-side. I know, because in creating a variety of test databases (no, I’m not jumping over to Photos at this point), I dragged photos from one window to another. I saw that photos taken with my iPhone kept their geolocation data, while photos I had geotagged lost theirs (probably indicating that the iPhone photos have the tagging data baked in, while the tagged photos are marked in a database). This pre-release version of Photos does not have a way to edit geotagging, which for me is a real problem. However, I suspect this will be in the program when it gets its final release.

The application also has simplified its rating system. No longer do you rate things from one to five stars. There’s a heart. You like it, or you don’t. Honestly, that suits me fine.

Nice clean interface.
Will it handle 75,000 pictures?
Photos does bring back something I’ve missed for a long, long time. In the System Preferences, you can set an iPhoto album (even a smart album) as the source for your desktop pictures. Many years ago, after a crash, my computer stopped paying attention to that. The system has been upgraded (multiple times). iPhoto has been upgraded (multiple times). I’ve even added more memory to my Mac. But for years, attempting to select an iPhoto album under “Desktop & Screen Saver” has been an exercise in futility. Sometimes it’s an exercise in futility just waiting for iPhoto to show up in the control panel. This does work with my test Photos library, although there are only 269 photos in it, and it’s only 636 MB. Will this still work when there are 75,000 photos to deal with? I hope.

Onward to the fear part. One of the new features is the idea that your photos can reside in the cloud, and they will all be available to all your devices. That not only fills I need I do not have, it makes me worry that iCloud-based sharing won’t work for me. Really, what I want to have happen is what happens now: I take a photo with my iPhone (or more rarely my iPad) and it shows up on my computer. (It would be really nice if videos would do that too without my having to tether the iOS device to the computer.) I don’t want to share my entire 215 GB photo library to the cloud. While I’ve been perfectly happy with the 5 GB space, I would need to exceed the 200 GB one and go to the 500 GB one at $9.99 per month. This is not a feature I’m willing to pay $119.88 annually for. Please. I worry, however, that my choice is going to be all or nothing. (I realize that I could trim my library and all other under the 200 GB mark, but I like having all photos, even the ones I’m not likely to use, in one place.)

Update: Whew. Further reading indicates that I will be able to use Photos as I use iPhoto, so that my Mac is (to use the old line) the "center of my digital universe." Photos will come in from the iOS devices, but I don't have to put all my photos into the cloud. What a relief.
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