iPhoto 2 brings lots of little improvements to the program and of course the big much needed one: speed. At first I didn’t think that it was much faster that its predecessor, but then after a little while (presumably to let it catch up on its caches) the speed ups were noticeable. On my G4/867 PowerBook (with Radeon 9000 graphics), scrolling through 1000 or so images was manageable with only a few hiccups. Much better than the previous achingly slow behavior. And window resizes happen in something approaching real time. It’s still jerky, but at least it’s not like before where you had to wait two or three or more seconds. The Cocoa programmer in me knows that they could make this lots better if they’d check to see if they were in a live resize before doing all the crunching to resize the image browser. Ah well, maybe next time.
The new One Touch Enhance feature is great. I’ve been telling people for a long time that digital pictures are not finished products when they come out of the camera. They need a bit of, in image processing parlance, levels and curves adjustment. In Photoshop, my first action is to always hit "Auto Levels" and see how it goes. Most of the time doing this results in something near what it should be. Only occasionally does it miss and go too far. The One Touch Enhance feature in iPhoto is performs exactly the same behavior. And most of the time, on most images, it does wonders. And for anybody who’s not a photo editing expert, it’s just the ticket. That said, I have two wishes for One Touch Enhance:
- It shouldn’t let you enhance a picture more than once. The way it’s set up now, you can "enhance" a picture until it goes intensely posterized. It shouldn’t let you do this. Most users will forget if they’ve enhanced a picture and hit the button again. Do this a few times and you’ve trashed an image instead of enhancing it.
- There should be an optional slider of how much enhancement you want to do. In essence controlling how aggressive the auto-leveling is or isn’t. This should be a property that’s kept with the photo’s meta information and which you can tweak later if you want.
The new way of dealing with keywords is a bit odd. It’s much more extensible now as the separate panel allows a long vertical list instead of the constraint of it being in the main user interface. But I had to search a bit and eventually found out how to open the Keywords panel using the Menu. I’d have expected this to show up somewhere in the UI when I’m in Organize mode. There’s a lot more that could be done with keywords in iPhoto. A lot.
Having the Album data in XML format is wonderful. I hate XML (as many longtime readers will know), but it’s better than most of the alternatives. The album data in XML form will let other programs easily determine the structure of your iPhoto collection and do something meaningful with it. Comments are there as well as pointers to the thumbnails. The one piece of information that I’d like to see there that’s not is the keyword data.
My other nits with iPhoto are:
- Why can’t I rotate an image in anything other than 90 degree increments? Everyone takes pictures that are skewed. iPhoto should have something really easy to help correct this.
- When exporting pictures, such as the one I showed in my iCurve blog entry, why do jaggy artifacts come up? The picture in my blog entry came from Photoshop. Exported from iPhoto, there are jaggys along the edges of the straight diagonal lines. And where did the Export button in the toolbar go? This was another thing I had to hunt through the menus to find in order to export to a file.
- Sharpening. They’ve fixed the problem of not having auto-levels. Now, they need to address the other major thing that you should do to images: Sharpen them for the device that you are going to output them onto. Prints need a different amount of sharpening than web images. Maybe the printing algorithms do some sharpening (I haven’t dug in there yet), but I know that the web export ones don’t. Yes, this would be a hard UI to manage, but surely its possible to do somewhat of a "One Touch Sharpen for Web" on images being uploaded to the web.
- When running on a multi-desktop machine, I can only set the desktop picture of the main desktop, not the secondary one.
- Why can’t you use small icons in the toolbar? The ones there are huge. And I keep activating them when I think that I’m just clicking on the background to bring the window to the front.
Ok, you get the drift. iPhoto is tons better, but there’s still more that they could do. Overall, it’s a great effort for 2.0. iTunes got better from 1.0 to 2.0, but still wasn’t a replacement for other MP3 players till it got to 3.0. As well, iMovie looks like it’s now reaching the way totally kick-ass stage with 3.0 (though I haven’t played with it any today). I’m hoping the same process happens with iPhoto on its path to 3.0. And until then, I’m going to get busy trying to find some ways of writing my own tools to help patch over the bumps that I see.
What do you think about the new iPhoto?