AN IMPROVEMENT FOR MOST IPHOTO USERS
The app has four main tabs. Photos contains all of your pictures in chronological order. Shared contains pictures from your shared photo streams, along with an activity feed for likes and comments in those streams. Albums contains albums that you’ve created yourself. And aside from storing slideshows, Projects is essentially a storefront for Apple’s printed photo products: cards, books, calendars, and so on. (You can now print your panoramic photos there, too.)
Photos is tied closely to iCloud Photo Library, Apple’s photo backup product, which is also in beta. iCloud Photo Library stores your first 5GB of pictures for free; after that, you’ll need to pay. Prices start at $0.99 a month for 20GB of storage and go up to $19.99 a month for 1TB. My Photo Stream, Apple’s sometimes-confusing free service for storing and synchronizing your last 1,000 photos, will continue to exist independently of Photos. (Check out our big explainer on Apple's new photo software and services here.
For the photos it does manage, though, the app offers powerful synchronization between devices. Take a photo on an iCloud-connected iPhone, and it pops up on Photos less than 30 seconds later. Edits you make on your Mac synchronize all but instantly on your phone. If you revert your changes, they’ll revert back on your phone, too. And there’s a nice search feature, too: you can look for photos by file name, when you took it, where you took it, or which people are in it.
iPhoto was never one of Apple’s most beloved products. Every year, it seemed slower and less connected to the phone — the place where most photos are taken. Photos for OS X does a lot of things right, but mostly it’s just fast and tightly integrated with your other devices. It feels like a big step forward, even if feels overdue.