At Apple’s iPad 3 event Tim Cook referred multiple times to “the PostPC era” we are living in. So immediately I started rethinking that phrase, as it applies to photography. The simplest result is the title of this article. Another element of the same Apple event has already inspired an article from me on the release of iPhoto for iOS. The two items are not unrelated. Allow me to describe why.
Apple is often the company to come up with “the next big thing”… And even when they are not, they are often the ones who take a new thing, and turn it from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. Sure they didn’t invent the smart phone, or the computer tablet, but I hardly need to point out to you that they were responsibe for turning both into desirable products.
And Apple is cranking up the heat on integrated systems, where the hardware is only part of the deal: the software, the cloud storage, the automatic updating of libraries, the access from your other devices, and the publishing capabilities, are all part of the overall experience that keeps bringing people back for more.
Now Apple has chosen to move the name iPhoto to iOS. Not the other way ’round, as they did when coordinating Mac and iOS address books, or calendars, or do lists. This time the well known, heavily used Mac version’s name was the one selected. There are a number of reasons this makes sense, from the fame of the name, to the fact that iPhoto for iOS is not actually replacing Photos, it’s an App Store app, with a price tag.
Not all Apple products arrive fully completed, perfect, and waiting to blow us away. Some take time, and iterations. MobileMe was but a precursor to iCloud. AppleTV has yet to sprout a TV. iTunes has transcended the name iTunes. It’s often the complex, service-related products that take more generations to reach maturity.
So this brings us back to those two items in the headline: PostPC, and Photography. While this first release of iPhoto for iOS is a modest image editing tool, that does not stand out particularly amongst the third party editors already on the App Store, it has the potential to remake photography.
iPhoto for the Mac is not the pro photographer’s choice for image management or editing. But it is the overwhelming choice of other Mac users, who don’t have professional needs. It’s so successful that Adobe does not bother to build a Mac version of Photoshop Album; who would buy it when they have iPhoto for free?
So envision a version of iPhoto for iOS that spreads its wings. A more powerful, wider range of editing tools. Touch functionality for many editing tools. Gesture controls for the rest. And lots of integration: edited photos would move to your Mac automatically, as would albums and slideshows. Wireless printing would be the norm. Geotagging would locate and map all your images. Social media buttons would post what you want, when and where you want.
Much of this is already implemented. Those items that are not, are clearly on the way. And third party photo editing apps may well be invited to the party, with images checked out of the library, processed and checked back in, so that they continue to have the convenience of the integrated system.
Which leads to the truly PostPC scenario of users going for weeks, or perhaps forever, without a PC. Actually shooting, editing, printing, publishing, and storing images on a tablet, or a phone and tablet duo, with no need for a desktop or laptop computer at all. And for many, no need for a camera, either; since the cameras in the phone or tablet are becoming good enough for many users.
The only ones not invited to the party would be the advanced photographers, with RAW files exceeding the system’s capacity, and professional library apps they need to organize their files in. Where these cutoffs occur, and what outside solutions become available to improve the pro photo workflow will be a burning question, as the pros look longingly in through the window at the PostPC party all those Jpeg shooters are enjoying.
The first image I edited and published on a mobile device; now it’s become a daily occurrence.