Apple Music was released today on the Xbox Store as a free download. I’ve had a chance to test the app briefly on my Xbox Series X, and the experience is very close to that of the Music app on the Apple TV.
Upon downloading the app, new users can take advantage of a free month of Apple’s music streaming service. There are multiple ways for existing subscribers to log in, too, including by using a QR code that opens a web page and asks you to sign in with your Apple ID. Once I signed in, the app on my Xbox refreshed, and I was good to go.
If you’ve ever used the Apple Music app on the Apple TV, you’ll be right at home on the Xbox version of the app. The UI is nearly identical from the ways you can interact with the service’s catalog of music to the Now Playing screen. It is my understanding that the Music app, along with the TV app, will be coming to Windows next year too.
Some recent photos from my iCloud Photo Library in the Windows Photos app.
Your iCloud Photo Library is also available in the Windows 11 Photos app now, with support for both images and video. To connect the two, you need to install iCloud for Windows on your PC and choose to sync your iCloud photos library. I gave it a try on my AYANEO Next Pro and had no trouble linking Microsoft’s app to my iCloud Photo Library.
The number of devices on which you can access Apple’s media services has expanded significantly over the past few years, with availability expanding from Android devices to smart TVs and other platforms. With Xbox and Windows PC integration, that expansion has taken another big leap forward, making those services available to a much wider audience.
Today, Adobe announced the release of Photoshop Elements 2023 and Premier Elements 2023, its photo and video editing apps for the Mac that guide users through a wide variety of creative projects and support for Apple silicon. The paid-up-front apps, which don’t require a Creative Cloud subscription, have been updated with an extensive list of new features and projects designed to help users get the most from their photos and videos.
Photoshop Elements 2023, which focuses on photo editing projects, features a long list of new features. The centerpiece of the update is the ability to select an area of a photo and animate it, applying a dynamic effect to parts of an otherwise static image. The update to Elements also allows users to add photo overlays that can be used to frame shots, replace image backgrounds and skies, and brushes to add patterns to images.
Premier Elements’ new slideshow designs. Source: Adobe.
Premier Elements 2023, Adobe’s video creation app, includes new effects that can be applied to video to add artistic effects to video. The app also has new collage and slideshow templates with modern designs and more than 100 new soundtrack options.
Both apps have been rebuilt to take advantage of Apple silicon Macs. Adobe also announced a browser-based beta version of Elements.
Both apps are available now for $99.99 or as a bundle for $149.99 from Adobe’s website and other retailers.
Over the years, I’ve shared family photos with my wife Jennifer in three ways: iMessage, AirDrop, and Shared Albums. However, of those, iMessage won hands down, not because it’s the best way to share photos, but because Messages is an app we already use every day to communicate. Plus, sharing photos with Messages is easy whether you’re already in the app and using the Photos iMessage app or in the Photos app itself and using the share sheet. From conversations with friends and family, I know I’m not alone in my scattershot approach to sharing photos with my family.
It’s into that chaotic, ad hoc mess and all of its variations that users have improvised over the years that Apple is stepping in with iCloud Shared Photo Library, its marquee new Photos feature for iOS and iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura. And you know what? It just works.
The feature lets anyone with an iCloud photo library share part or all of their photo library with up to five other people. Once activated, a new library is created that sits alongside your existing one and counts against the iCloud storage of the person who created it.
One critical limitation of iCloud Shared Photo Library is that you can only be a member of one shared library, a restriction that is designed to limit the library to your immediate household. That means I could share photos with my wife and kids because there are fewer than six of us, but I couldn’t set up another library with my siblings or parents for our extended families. Nor could I invite one of my extended family members to use the extra slot I’ve got in my family library unless they were willing to forego being part of any shared library their own family created.
Unwinding a shared library.
So, what do you do if you’re in a shared library and want to join a different one? There’s a button in the Photos section of Settings to leave a library, so you can do so with one tap, saving all of the photos in the shared library to your personal library or keeping just those you originally contributed to the shared pool. Deleting libraries is possible too, but only by the person who created them, who is given the choice of keeping all images or just the ones they contributed when they do so.
Existing Pixelmator Photo users won’t have to subscribe to continue using the app and should be able to add the Mac version at a discount when it’s released. New customers can subscribe for $4.99 per month or $23.99 per year after a 7-day free trial. There’s also a lifetime purchase option that costs $54.99. Pixelmator says that the subscription pricing will increase for new subscribers when the Mac app is released, so now is a good time to subscribe if you were hoping that the team would add a Mac version.
Pixelmator Photo for iPad.
There are a lot of reasons for Pixelmator Photo’s move to a subscription model, which are explained in detail in the team’s blog post. As with any move from paid-up-front to a subscription, some users will be left behind, which is a shame, but I’m not surprised by Pixelmator’s move. I’m more surprised that the switch didn’t occur earlier. Pixelmator Photo is a top-notch, high-quality app that is continuously developed to keep up with advances in Apple’s photo editing frameworks and hardware updates. That’s not the sort of app that can be offered for a set price indefinitely, as demonstrated by the manyothersophisticatedapps, including other photo editing apps, that have made the leap to a subscription model. Hopefully, the switch to subscriptions will allow the Pixelmator team to continue to develop Photo for a long time to come.
There aren’t many details about the Mac version of Pixelmator Photo to share except for the image at the top of this story, but I like what I see. If you’ve used the iPad version of Pixelmator Photo, the Mac app will be immediately familiar with its spare UI and focus on the image being edited. There’s no word yet on when the Mac version might be released, but when it is, we’ll have a complete review.
Photo editors are the perfect fit with automation tools because, so often, there’s a set of edits, filters, transformations, or file exports that you want to apply to multiple images. Many apps come with some sort of built-in batch processing tool, which is great, but supporting automation opens the door to integrating users’ photo editing processes with system features like Finder and other apps.
With the release of version 7.2 at the end of July, Acorn added its own deep catalog of Shortcuts actions for users, including actions to:
Create images from the clipboard
Crop, rotate, flip, trim, and resize images
Apply individual filters and presets
Change the color profile of photos
Search for text in images
There’s some overlap with what can be done with other apps like Pixelmator Pro, but not as much as you might think. By combining Acorn’s actions with other system and third-party app actions, extremely sophisticated workflows that would take substantial time to complete one image at a time can be reduced to running a single shortcut, which, of course, is what Shortcuts and other automation schemes are all about.
Sharing photos among family members has never been easy on Apple’s platforms. Photos and albums can be shared individually or in batches, but it’s a manual process that too often, I, and I’m sure many others, don’t bother to do. The result is that members of the same household often end up with different collections of images from the same events. iCloud Shared Photo Library is designed to solve that problem with a single, shared photo library to which each participant can contribute.
iCloud Shared Photo Library allows you to share your photos with up to five other people. Your shared iCloud photo library is separate from your own library, and you’re in control of what you contribute to the group library. If you want, you can share everything in your personal photo library. You can also pick and choose individual photos or share everything after a particular date or shots of a certain person.
I’ve been following Ben McCarthy’s journey with Obscura since the app first launched in 2015, watching the app as it has evolved alongside changes to Apple’s camera hardware. Camera apps pose unique design challenges, especially for camera apps like Obscura, which has consistently aimed to deliver pro features that can be used one-handed on an iPhone. Those challenges have only continued to multiply since I wrote about Obscura 2 and its innovative Control Wheel.
With Obscura 3, which is a brand new app, McCarthy and the Obscura team have taken a new direction with the app’s design that’s better suited for the capabilities of Apple’s modern camera hardware. It’s a direction that remains true to the app’s historical design aesthetic and user experience while making changes that I expect will provide greater flexibility to quickly adapt to future camera innovations.
I’m going to focus on Obscura 3’s design because I haven’t tested every possible combination of features the app offers. It’s winter in the Chicago area and not the best time for photo walks. Still, I’ve spent enough time with the app to know that the new design works well, allowing users to step through its myriad of features with ease, so let’s take a closer look.
Pixelmator Photo has long been one of my favorite iPad photo editing apps. The app makes great use of the iPad’s large screen, which provides space for tools alongside the image you’re editing. Reducing that experience to even the largest model of iPhone is a tall order, but from my preliminary testing, it looks as though the Pixelmator team has pulled it off.
Pixelmator Photo on the iPad offers an extensive suite of editing tools that strike a nice balance. The app makes it simple to apply the app’s machine learning-based tools for quick editing and sharing, but it also includes fine-grained controls for when you want to more finely tune a photo. The same is true on the iPhone, but the design tilts in favor of quick access and edits, which I think is appropriate on a device like the iPhone. The deeper tools are still there, just beneath the surface and easy to access when you need them, but on the iPhone the emphasis is on accessing frequently-used tools quickly.
Last week, Apple announced two new child safety features coming this fall that stirred up controversy in the security and privacy world. The first is a technology that scans photos that are uploaded to customers’ iCloud Photo Libraries for digital fingerprints that match a database of known Child Sexual Abuse Material or ‘CSAM’ that is maintained by the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a quasi-governmental entity in the US. The other is a machine learning-based technology used by Messages on an opt-in basis to alert children, and if they are under 13, their parents, of images flagged by the system as potentially pornographic.
The two technologies are different, but by announcing them at the same time in a way that wasn’t always clear, Apple found itself embroiled in controversy. The company has since tried to clarify the situation by publishing a set of FAQs that go into more detail about the upcoming features than the initial announcement did.
Then today, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, sat down with Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal for a video interview to explain the two features and how they work. Stern’s interview is well worth watching because it does more in just under 12 minutes to clarify what Apple is doing, and just as importantly not doing, than anything else I’ve watched or read.