Photos on iOS 10 has taken a few big leaps in terms of the viewing experience. The big takeaway from the keynote is that we all take a lot of pictures, and now iOS 10 is doing more to help you automatically organize them into meaningful Memories and related events. As someone who has spent days organizing albums and tagging faces on my Mac, this is a pretty exciting prospect.
I previously used a number of workarounds to get Faces to be recognized on my iPad Pro. Photos on macOS has always been able to recognize faces and tag photos with keywords, and although it wasn’t made very obvious, those keywords do sync to iOS. So I spent a good long while making sure I had key people tagged on Photos so that I could search for them on iOS.
But with iOS 10, that extra tagging is no longer required. I left my iPad Pro on overnight so that it could search my 13,000 photos for faces, and they’re all organized in a special Faces album. iOS did a pretty good job of putting all the right faces together, but there doesn’t seem to be an easy way of rejecting a photo that isn’t that person. Syncing Faces between iPad and iPhone doesn’t seem to work quite yet. I know that Apple made a big deal about privacy and showing that the calculations are done on-device, but I’m assuming that these Faces will eventually sync over.
What I’m a little disappointed about is that the editing interface looks almost exactly the same. With the two Pro iPads released in the last 9 months, extra editing controls on the iPad would have made a lot of sense. Unfortunately, we’ll still have to tap and edit one photo at a time on the iPad, instead of making changes and simply swiping to the next photo (while automatically saving changes). Apps like Darkroom and Lightroom operate this way, so it should definitely be possible.
It’s also a bit discouraging that Photos doesn’t have any sort of maximum space setting when using iCloud Photo Library. There’s a new feature in Music that allows you to dictate the maximum amount of storage that songs should take up (64 GB is the current limit), and I haven’t seen any news about a similar feature for Photos on iOS 10. I think that is a big miss, since that would deliver a greater level of control over which photos are loaded into memory, and which ones are downloaded from the cloud. Even in iOS 10, there’s still a bit too much mystery about how iCloud Photo Library is going to prioritize files on the device.
One of the most exciting long-term prospects is that third-party apps can now edit RAW photos. Based on testing, it doesn’t seem like the Photos app itself is any better at tweaking RAW files, but I’m looking forward to seeing other apps like Lightroom, or even Darkroom, do stuff with RAW. I still edit and shoot mostly in JPEG, but it’s nice to have RAW files around as a backup — and being able to edit them would really round out my mobile workflow.
All of these changes together have been exciting enough that I’ve wanted to try iCloud Photo Library again. I am still keeping my Lightroom library around for now, but I want to test if the Optimize Storage feature is usable in the day-to-day, and if the weird low-space bug is still an issue in iOS 10.