eXtensions - Tuesday 3 December 2019
Cassandra - Tuesday Diversion: Unwelcome Changes - (2) iOS and iPadOS Photos Editing
By Graham K. Rogers
The previous Photos app was demonstrated to me in June 2015 by some smart Apple people from Australia in a Bangkok city-center hotel. The interfacing was clear and easy to use. It was closely related to the interfaced that was (and still is) available in Photos on the Mac, and that is a part of the weakness of the new app that I have identified.
Editing in Photos on the Mac
Previous Editing in Photos on the iPhone
Previous Editing in Photos on the iPhone (note simpler Crop interface)
Photos on iOS 13The interface on an iPhone or iPad is in 3 main sections: function selectors to the left (Edit, Filters, Crop and Straighten), the edited image in the center, and the controls to the right. Unlike Aperture which has now gone for those with Catalina, or other software like Pixelmator Photo on the iPad, it is not possible to change the position of controls, left for right: bad luck for lefties like me (although I have learned to cope).
Crop and StraightenOf all the tools in this update to Photos, this has seen some of the best changes. It used to be just a basic crop and straighten tool but some significant extras, like Perspective and Keystone have been included, as well as (at the top of the screen) a Mirror tool. Also at the top of the screen are selectors for image crops, including Original, Freeform, Square, and 6 ratios (e.g 7:5). The interface is similar on the iPad but easier to see and handle.
Crop and Straighten tools in iPadOS 13 Photos
FiltersI had never been a lover of filters in Photos on the Mac or the iPhone. However, in the absence of Black & White editing, the user is left with choosing from three monochrome filters (Mono, Silvertone, Noir); or in editing, turning Saturation down to zero and using other tools to adjust the basic image.
EditingRather than the three options of Light, Saturation and B&W, each with their own fine adjusters, the user now has a wider range of some 16 tools at the bottom of the screen (to the right on the iPad), with a scroll tool. On the smaller screen of an iPhone, it is possible to make a further unwanted adjustment when trying to scroll through the tools selection. I have done this several times. Unlike the previous Photos, there is no obvious weighted mark for reference (apart from 0), so going back to the previously edited setting is guesstimation.
Editing tools in iPadOS 13 Photos
The simple Black & White controls are sorely missed of course and (as above) the use of filters and Saturation controls do not compensate for the fine-tuning that had been possible, which was particularly useful when editing scanned film negatives. I can of course do this on the Mac or in some of the other apps I have on iOS and iPadOS devices, but the swiftness with which this had been possible has been lost.
Of the new editing tools, Sharpen is most welcome and is quite effective. However the white balance adjuster, Warmth, is not what I was hoping for. The simple slider applies changes to the whole of the image, while the algorithm used in the white balance tool in Photos on the Mac works far better: one step forward, one step back here.
Admittedly some of the RAW images I work on are large (95MB) although this had not been a significant problem before. Images take longer to download from iCloud and then there is a further wait (that has improved slightly with the latest iOS update) while the image is loaded. Saving sometimes crashes the app which means all editing changes are lost.
Editing tools, Filters and Crop/Straighten on iOS 13 Photos
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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