The 'Moments' view of the new Photos app, shown on a MacBook Pro / Apple

App will be released properly in Spring, and slims down and speeds up Apple’s photo management tools

Apple has launched its replacement for iPhoto, which is set to be fully released in Spring.

The new Photos for Mac overhauls Apple’s software for storing and editing pictures. It streamlines the look of iPhoto and adding the ability to save photos to the cloud.

It will be a free replacement for iPhoto, and was initially announced in June. The programme is being seeded to developers as of last night, and will be followed by a public beta ahead of the full release in Spring.

The new app is similar to the Photos one on iOS.

It has four main tabs, each of which function similar to their iOS counterparts. A Photos tab is a long stream of photos in chronological order. A Shared tab has pictures from shared photo streams. Albums contains collections that can be organised by users. And a Projects tab allows you to buy Apple’s printing products and have your pictures made into books or calendars.

Like the phone app, the new Photos for Mac will organise pictures automatically. That includes separate spaces for various kinds of photos such as slow motion videos and panoramas, for example, and it can work out when pictures all come from one Moment and slot them all together.

Photos can either be stored locally, as they are on iPhoto, or put into Apple’s iCloud Photo Library. That service, which provides a small amount of storage for free and charges after that, offers a way of keeping photos in sync across devices.

Those that have used the developer seed of the app have described it as fast, and praised the way it cleans up many of iPhotos long-standing problems.