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OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 public beta brings the Photos app

OS X Photos beta

It’s goodbye iCloud Photo Stream and hello to storing all of your photos in the cloud

With the launch of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, Apple’s plan was to bring the desktop and mobile operating systems closer together. While we immediately got the sharing and control features (Handoff and Continuity), the new way of sharing photos has been delayed.

As of today that is fixed with the OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 public beta debuting the brand-new Photos app, which replaces Aperture and iPhoto on the Mac. The big change here is the new iCloud Photo Library, which lets you store all of your photos in the cloud, in their original format, including RAW images.

It’s a fundamental change from the iCloud Photo Stream, where only photos taken in the last 30 days were uploaded and shared among your devices. Although the iCloud Photo Library has been available in beta form on iOS 8.1 devices for a while now, there has been no OS X client until now.

The iCloud Photo Library and Photos are designed to make the most of your photo collection while saving on physical storage space. You can choose ‘Optimise Mac Storage’ in order to keep device-optimised pictures locally, with the full hi-res versions in the cloud; a similar feature exists for the iPad and iPhone. We’re not sure how the new system ties in with Windows users, who can currently access their Photo Stream with the iCloud Control Panel; we’re waiting for Apple to get back to us for confirmation.

As well as simply storing photos online, the new system lets you edit your images on any of your devices and have the changes synchronise across everything.

Early reviews say that the new Photos app gives you more control than iPhotos, but less than Aperture gave. It seems, then, as though dedicated photographers may be better off sticking with Lightroom, although more casual snappers will probably like the simple editing tools on offer here. We’ll update our thoughts once we’ve had chance to play with the new software.

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