Apple Photos ditches prints, but third-party extensions could be even better

Apple is calling it quits on the printed photo and leaving prints from the MacOS Photos app up to third-party platforms. A new pop-up message inside Photos says that the app will stop taking print orders on September 30. The Photo Print Products section of the Photos app (previously iPhoto) now warns users with a pop-up that the built-in service is coming to an end.

The print service allowed users to order albums, photo cards, and calendars as well as prints up to 20 by 30 inches. The print orders have been around since the launch of iPhoto more than 15 years ago. Some versions still have that ordering page with the warning pop-up, while the option is already missing from macOS Mojave.

Easily accessible prints aren’t exactly going away, however, but Apple won’t be the ones behind those image orders. Project Extensions, which are available inside the App Store, will allow Photos users to still print their images from the app. Apple says that the extensions will allow for more available products and services.

With extensions, users will also be able to choose who prints their photos instead of automatically using Apple’s print fulfillment. Without an official announcement outside that in-app pop-up, it’s unclear why Apple is discontinuing the service. The feature may be a lesser known part of Photos hidden inside the file menu.

The print orders are in MacOS only and not available on iOS. An API allowing third-party platforms to integrate with Photos launched with High Sierra. While the API still allows simplified photo orders from within the app, the payments are made to that third party.

A handful of extensions already allow users to print from within Photos, including well-known photo labs such as WhiteWall and Shutterfly, along with Mimeo Photos, GoodTimes, and Wix.

The software add-ons also allow developers to add their own features. WhiteWall, for example, allows users to preview what their prints would look like on a gallery wall, including swapping out different frame types and re-arranging the images on a virtual wall. Shutterfly’s extension, on the other hand, will automatically arrange up to 200 images inside a photo book.

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