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Second Gear releases Photos+, a new way to look at photos on your iPhone

Second Gear, the company behind the popular text editor Elements 2 and Github manager Committed, moved away from its text-based roots and added a new photo app to its lineup today. Now available from the iOS App Store, Photos+ promises to be "the best way to manage photos on your phone."

Rather than being a copycat, Photos+ re-imagines the Photos app and tacks on a few key features. Instead of a grid of small thumbnails, Photos+ uses the full screen to present your photos in a layout that is more like a montage. Image previews are larger, allowing you to detect subtle differences between shots, like which photos are the raw shots and which ones are the edits. One other bonus of this layout is that you can easily tell when a photo has been shot in portrait mode and when it has been snapped in landscape.

Photos+ also adds two significant features that'll have any photographer jumping for joy. First, the app reads and displays all the EXIF data. iOS 7 saves all the camera settings for each photo, but the default Photos app hides this information from the user. Photos+ adds this functionality and does so in an easy-to-use and easy-to-read way.

Geotagging is another area where Photos+ shines. The app pulls up a map for each photo that has GPS location data stored along with image. The map is large enough for your see precisely where you took the photo. By combining GPS along with the EXIF data, Photos+ allows you to see where, when and how you took a photo -- three very valuable pieces of information.

Photos+ does have its limitations. While viewing individual photos is snappy, the app won't load thumbnails when scrolling through a large library of photos. I can easily swipe down through my photos (all 800 of them), but I can't see anything until I stop scrolling. Once I stop, the images are filled in quickly with their appropriate photo previews. This is by design for the first version of the app as the generation of thumbnails while scrolling is memory intensive. That being said, it still makes it difficult to see where you are while scrolling when everything is white. Hopefully, this will improve in future versions of the app.

I would also love to see some natural organization of the photos by date, instead of one long column. When I want to find a photo I took last month, I have to scroll and stop to see where I am in my photos, guess at the date and scroll again until I find the right spot. It would be convenient to have some markers that show the date as I scroll.

Also, the management part of the app is slightly limited. You can move photos between the photo albums, but you cannot create new albums on the fly when you are viewing your photos. You have to add a new album by going to the album browser first and then adding it there. Then you can go back to your photos and add them to the newly created album.

Also, there is no option to delete your photos, which is a missed opportunity due to Apple not providing an API for that feature. The larger thumbnails make it easy to see duds in your photo stream, but there is no way to delete them from within the app. I can select individual or multiple photos to share them or add them to an album, though.

Despite these limitations, I am still making space on my phone for Photos+. The larger thumbnails, coupled with the map location and EXIF data, are worth the app's weight in gold. Plus, it's the first version of the app, and I believe some of these missing features will be added in subsequent releases. Second Gear has a proven track record with Elements and Committed, so I expect them to have the same diligence and attention to detail with its Photos+ app.

Photos+ is available for US$2.99 from the iOS App Store.

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