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You don't often think of Apple when imagining low-cost products, but Apple Photo's calendar-printing service is less expensive than much of the competition. What's more, you get high-quality, beautifully packaged calendar with well-balanced, attractive photos. While you don't have many options for customizing the calendar, Apple Photo's ease of use will appeal to those who don't have much experience with calendar design.
Creating Your Calendar
Apple Photo's software lacks the flexibility and great content of Shutterfly and Mixbook. Apple's very small library of professional, clean calendar templates has a few layouts. Photo and text placeholders are immovable and cannot be deleted, resized, reshaped or rotated. However, if we placed a vertical photo into a horizontal placeholder in some multiple-photo layouts, the placeholder automatically changed orientation.
We could choose backgrounds from a very limited library of solid-color swatches. The software had no border options, clip art or drop shadows. We could drag and drop photos onto the calendar grid but had no option to use type in the grid to note, for instance, a niece's birthday.
While the only photo tools were nine color filters and zoom/crop, the full set of Apple Photo editing tools was available at the click of a button.
The Printed Calendar
Eye-catching packaging is part of the attraction of the Apple brand, and our Apple calendar was no exception. It arrived in a nice white portfolio envelope marked with the Apple logo, which made this calendar stand out from the others. The paper stock was of good quality, with a good weight and an appealing, smooth surface.
The cover photo had very good color and dynamic range, along with good contrast. The cover type was not only clean and crisp, but also slightly raised. The interior pictures on Apple's calendar were very nice, though not as well-balanced as those in Shutterfly. The differences between the photo reproduction in the two calendars were slender but noticeable to our jury when the two products were placed side by side. Some of the pictures in the Apple calendar were not as lively as Shutterfly's, with shadows that were a bit darker and an overall slight shift toward cyan.
Price & Options
Our 13 x 11-inch Apple Photo calendar was the only size option available, but the price was reasonable, at $19.99. Compare this to Shutterfly's 11 x 8-inch calendar and Mixbook's 11 x 8.5-inch option, both of which cost $24.99. Apple offered the greatest range for the length of our calendar: from 12 months to 24 months, priced at $1.49 per additional month. We also had a choice of starting our calendar on any month in 2017 through 2021.
Apple Photo has a limited selection of other photo products, specifically cards, books and prints.
If you're looking for a high-quality calendar for a reasonable price, and care more about ease of use than flexibility, Apple Photo is definitely the best choice for you. However, for those who want their calendars to reflect their personalities and be fully customizable, go with Shutterfly or Mixbook.
Import photos from: iCloud Drive, your device
Templates & layouts: limited and uneditable
Backgrounds: Choose from among a limited palette of colors
Clip art: None
Text: Customizable but placeholders uneditable
Credit: Tom's Guide
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Sally Wiener Grotta is the president and lead analyst of DigitalBenchmarks test lab (www.DigitalBenchmarks.com). The scripts she created for various tech publications for testing and evaluating digital cameras, image quality, software and related technologies have become industry standards. Among her numerous books is the first major volume on image processing “Digital Imaging for Visual Artists” (McGraw-Hill), co-authored with Daniel Grotta. Her hundreds of reviews, stories and columns have appeared in scores of magazines, journals and online publications.