Tom Klaver

Localizer of iOS/Mac apps by night and co-founder, designer of Lifelapse and Rototray. I love to dig inside resources. Email me.

iOS Media Integration: What Apple Should Do (Opinion)

This post originally appeared on Applingua Blog on June 5, 2012:

On March 23rd, Apple completed iLife for iPhone and iPad by introducing iPhoto for iOS. If you’ve worked with iLife on the Mac, you probably know how well the integration between all apps (iMovie, iPhoto, iTunes and GarageBand) is laid out. They’re in perfect harmony.

Say you’re on your Mac, making a small video and want to add a photo you’ve edited in iPhoto to your iMovie project. It’s seamless: Just go to the built-in media browser, drag in your photo and you’re done. Two steps.

Now imagine you’d like to do the same on your iPad (or iPhone). You’ve come to a point in your iMovie project where — hold on, that photo from iPhoto would fit perfectly here. You quit iMovie to launch iPhoto > an obtrusive non-cancelable dialog updates the iPhoto library > tap twice to find the photo you’d like to add > tap the action button to reveal the “Share” popover > tap “Camera Roll” > tap “Selected”.

A dialog will show its saving progress, followed by a dialog where you tap “OK”.

This whole process comes down to 7 tiresome taps. Back to iMovie. You tap the Photos button > tap “Camera Roll” > pick the photo. Now it’s added to your video timeline. Add 3 taps.

It took me 50 seconds on the new iPad to import an iPhoto picture into iMovie. Being obligated to use the Camera Roll is incredibly outdated. If this can’t be improved, what should?

There are several ways to do so, but here’s the best way: The iPhoto library being completely integrated into iMovie. Just like the Photos and Music library, both of which every app in the App Store can get access to by default. Every app working with any kind of files should be accessible in this system-wide library.

I completely see this improved integration happen throughout iOS 6. There won’t be yet another separate app — a collection library of all possible files a user can interact with will do. Would you want yet another icon on your Homescreen? Remember one of Apple’s (Sir Jony Ive’s) undisclosed philosophies: you shouldn’t see something unless you need it.

You say you want to add a photo from Hipstamatic while composing this email? No problem. Tap “Attach”, pick the Photos category, tap Hipstamatic, and you’ll see all your photos from Hipstamatic.

Need to attach a Keynote document to a message inside iMessage? Tap “Attach” > Documents > Keynote > and pick the document.

As an added bonus, Apple will implement a search field so you can Spotlight-search through all searchable files inside iCloud. With iCloud library, you don’t even have to worry whether a file will be on your iPad if you’ve just shot a photo with an iPhone-only app on your iPhone. Every file will be available.

The moment Apple adds this wide iLife-like integration to iOS 6, at least iLife for iOS can be the suite it deserves to be.