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New Photos app available in OS X 10.10.3 update

Apple announced today that the new Photos app is available as part of the Mac OS X update from the Mac App Store.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Apple released a free update today for Mac OS X Yosemite that brings with it the new Photos app along with several other tweaks and fixes to the Mac OS. You can download the Mac OS X 10.10.3 update right now from the Mac App Store.

Announced first in June 2014 at WWDC, Apple said the Photos app would not be coming until spring this year, well after the release of Mac OS X Yosemite. With the release today, Mac users finally can check out a new way to manage photos, but Apple will still let users continue to use iPhoto.

What is it?

The Photos app is not a direct upgrade from iPhoto nor is it a complete copy of the Photos app on iOS. Instead it has its own unique set of tools that are only available on Yosemite. Once you download the update, Photos will be the default photo management app on OS X, but that's not going to stop you from using any of a number of third-party apps. You'll also still be able to use iPhoto if you're more used to the way it manages your photo library -- the new Photos app is not a replacement.

Just like on iOS the Photos app in Yosemite works closely with iCloud and with Apple's iCloud Photo Library. The service stores your high-res images in iCloud, but keeps the full files from taking up too much space on your desktop or iOS devices until you're actually viewing them. This means that even if all your images are the highest quality setting, they won't be taking up as much valuable storage space on your hard drive or on your iOS devices.

A hub for all your photos

Photos isn't going to replace the big-name photography apps like Photoshop, Lightroom, or even apps like SnagIt. Instead it will act as the main hub for your photos across all your Apple devices connected by iCloud so you can work on your photos from anywhere and the edits will show up on every device.

For more information, check out my write-up for the developer release of Photos to see all the new features.