Apple's biggest new product of the day will cost you at least $499, but if all you've got is five bucks you're not out of luck— you could just buy iPhoto for iOS, the latest app in Apple's iLife suite to make its way onto the company's portable devices. We downloaded and tested out the brand new app, and even after only a few minutes of use it's certainly replaced the old Photos app on our iPhone, though we're not ditching our Photoshop licenses just yet. At its most basic, the app is just a more powerful way to organize your photos — you can create albums and events, or make Journals. Journals are basically digital scrapbooks, and they're pretty cool: you can add a bunch of photos, then supplement with text, maps, weather information, and much of the other accoutrement that you'd normally see in a paper scrapbook. It's really easy to create a Journal, and to share it via iCloud so other people can see way more than they'd ever want to about your vacation.
There's a reason this app is called iPhoto and not Aperture, though, and it's the level of editing features. There are plenty of ways to edit your photos, from controlling white balance and saturation to adding various filters and effects, but they're all pretty heavy-handed and don't offer a lot of fine-tuned editing power. For brightening up a photo or correcting horizon lines — two things the Auto-Enhance tool also does pretty well — iPhoto works great, but this is certainly not the app for the picky photographer. Whether we were slightly tweaking the saturation on a person's face or completely inverting all the photo's colors, the app was really easy and really fast, but most effects are relatively all-or-nothing. The brushes are the most detailed of the tools, letting you brighten or saturate even really small parts of a photo — though the skeumorphic effect is a little much. Nearly everything is intuitive and fast, and fortunately you're always only a tap away from undoing your last change or even going all the way back.
Sharing is the real strength of iPhoto for OS X, and it extends to the iOS app too. You can share a photo, album, or selection of photos to a number of different sites, like Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook, or just email or print. The Facebook sharing is surprisingly robust for Apple's iOS apps — you can upload a photo to any of your existing albums, and you get a list to choose from every time. If you've got another iPhone or iPad running iOS 5.1, you can also send pictures directly between devices using Beam, though we had some trouble getting it to work.
Along with the huge spec bump in the new iPad's camera, iPhoto for iOS could help the new tablet be the first we don't hate taking pictures with, and it's a nice addition to the iPhone as well. It's out now in the App Store, for $4.99 — though you'll need an iPhone 4 or later or iPad 2 or later to use it.