Apple is putting an end to orders through its Photo Print Products service after Sept. 30. If you've been a regular user, here are some alternative digital services for making calendars and photo books.
We've used all of these, so we're going to say right now that for Apple users, the exiting Photo Print service is superior to all of these from an integration, variety, and overall quality standpoint hands down. All of these services have their strong points, and weak spots.
Unfortunately, there's no real way to pick a best offering overall — because there isn't one. However, if you shop smart, and order a product based on the strengths of the company, you can get the same quality product that you'd get from Photo Print.
Of the services without a retail outlet, Shutterfly may be the best known. The vendor has just about anything you could want, including not just standard items like prints, cards, stationery, calendars, albums, and photo books, but eccentric options like pillows, plaques, growlers, and even towels. If you like you can get a custom-printed iPhone case, available for every model from the iPhone 5 through the iPhone X.
Critically, the company has a free Photo Books extension for the macOS Photos app. This may make it a more direct repalcement for Photo Print Products, although current ratings for the software aren't so hot.
By default Shutterfly offers photo books in seven sizes, with up to 30 pictures per page and a limit of 1,000 total pictures. Prices start at $14.39 and you can choose to use template books or take more direct control of pictures, text, and backgrounds. The company also offers a "Make My Book" service which adds a $9.99 fee on top of whatever book you order.
Wall calendars typically start at $19.99, but there are also easel, desk, and poster calendars, or if you insist, there's a $10.39 calendar mousepad.
Mpix's offerings may be a little more tame compared to Shutterfly, but they'll still probably have what you want.
Assuming you don't go with the company's special "accordion mini" options, photo books start at $19.99 for a 20-page 5x5 art cloth hardcover. There are plenty of other options though, up through a $118.99 premium panoramic book with a custom cover and deep matte photographic paper.
A standard 11x8.5 or 12x18 wall calendar is $20. You can also get accordion mini calendars for about the same price, or a dry-erase calendar that starts at $29.99 for 16x12.
The company's Photos app extension can be used to order a range of products, including prints in materials like metal, wood, and canvas.
Snapfish offers cheaper photo books, costing as little as $12.99 for a 20-page softcover. You can design your own or choose from assorted templates. If you want to go all-out, the most expensive option is a $109.99 "premium layflat" 8x11 hardcover.
The company has a relatively small assortment of wall and desk calendars, but you can spend as little as $9.99 on the latter.
There is no Mac software, but Snapfish does have an iPhone and iPad app which can be used to order just about anything without even touching a computer. In the U.S. you can also get up to 100 free 4x6 prints per month for ordering from the app, albeit with a variety of restrictions.
Nations Photo Lab
If you want to go even cheaper on photo books, Nations has what it calls "buzz books" — 40-page, 6x6 softcovers for $10.05. The site's regular hardcover books start at $19.43 for 10 pages, and go up to $52.93 for 12x12 leather with lay-flat semi-gloss paper. Of course 10 pages isn't much, so expect to pay more than the sticker price.
Wall calendars — custom or using six different templates — start at $9.35, but you'll pay more if you want decent-quality paper, more likely between $12.40 and $15.74.
Nations lacks a Photos extension or even an iOS app. It does have Mac-compatible ordering software called Roes, but for the average person there's likely little advantage over using the Web.
Adorama is probably better known for selling camera gear and other electronics, but AdoramaPix is out there for those of us who already have our photos in hand. The vendor charges $19.99 for an 8x8 softcover book, and the decadent can scale up to a leather 12x15 that costs a whopping $169.99.
Calendar-wise there are desktop, standard wall-flip center-fold, and top-hanging 12x18 calendars. These range between $12.99 and $29.99 and support a lot of personalization, including the ability to make photos the backgrounds for important dates.
Adorama actually has several iOS apps: AdoramaPix Uploader, Adorama Photo Book Designer for the iPhone, aPixPublisher Photo Books for the iPad, and Hipstametal for ordering metal prints. Uploader and aPix seem problematic, so like Nations you may want to stick to Web designs.
Naturally, it's hard to talk about digital printing services without talking about retail behemoths like Walmart. They offer many of the same things as services like Shutterfly with the convenience of being able to walk into a local store for pickup.
As you'd expect, you can go dirt cheap at Walmart, but don't expect to get much until you pony up, relatively speaking. The cheapest photo book is a $3.98 2x3 "mini" with 24 pages. Regular softcovers start at $8, hardcovers at $14.96, either with 20 pages. The main drawback is a lack of high-end options, since you can't get any better than "premium" lay-flat hardcovers, falling short of Apple's offerings.
The retailer does have a variety of calendar options, including wall, desk, easel, poster, and planning. You can spend as little as 59 cents on a whole-year poster, though realistically, you'll probably want to pay for something nicer. An 8x11 wall calendar is $17.47.
Walmart doesn't have a mobile or desktop app for its Photo service.
Like Walmart, CVS doesn't have many options when it comes to photo books. These can range in size from 4x6 to 12x12, and from $7.99 to $49.99 or more, but don't hope for anything better than a lay-flat or hardcover. Leather isn't even a choice.
Calendars are even more limited, split between $9.99 desktop calendars and a handful of wall calendars costing either $19.99 or $29.99.
One thing CVS does have is an iPhone app, but don't expect too much out of it. It's the same app the pharmacy uses for coupons and prescriptions, and not meant for anything more complex than prints or cards.
Walgreens seems to be a little bit better than CVS when it comes to books. You can start small at a 25-page, 4x4 "PrintBook" for $6.99, and scale up to $69.99 for a "premium" lay-flat, with dozens of templates. Curiously, leather is only available for the normally cheaper window-cover format.
There also doesn't seem to be much personalization available for the higher-end books. The most customizable products are actually 15-page 8.5x11 books available for same-day pickup.
There are just three calendar options: a $9.99 desktop, wall calendars starting at $19.99, and whole-year calendar posters costing $10.99.
Another area where Walgreens beats CVS is with its iPhone and iPad app. You can use it to order anything available for same-day pickup, including books, calendars, and even metal and canvas prints.
York is another specialist in the photo printing world, with 20-page books ranging in size from a 4x6 softcover to a 12x12 hardcover, the latter of which can use black or white leather if you so choose. Prices run from $9.99 to $49.99. As with most photo services you can add extra pages, but here only in two-page add-ons costing between 75 cents to $1.95, depending on the dimensions of the book.
The service doesn't have as many options as outfits like Shutterfly though, and in fact its calendars are limited to $9.99 10x5 desk designs, and 8x11 ($19.99) or 11x14 ($32.99) wall options. To its credit though, it does offer hundreds of background designs for desk calendars, and on wall calendars individual dates can be given custom images and clip art.
York does have an iPhone and iPad app, but we would steer well clear. It has poor reviews, and visually resembles apps from 2012. It hasn't been updated since July 2017, which is either a sign that a complete overhaul is coming or that the company is throwing it under a bus.