Aperture Dead or Alive

Aperture icon blown up real bigEven if you’re not a photography nut, I think you’ll be interested in a topic that has many of us in a tizzy this week, and that’s the announcement by Apple that they are not doing any further development on their high end photo application, Aperture. Aperture is currently at version 3 with a bunch of point releases after its initial release. Aperture 3 came out in February of 2010, over four years ago. Sure we got some good stuff like photo streams which I love, and integration with SmugMug, but if you read the vast list of what changed in the last 4 years, it’s more bug fixes than anything else. Many of us have been sitting on the edge of our seats waiting and hoping for something wonderful to come out of Cupertino any minute now to make those Adobe Lightroom users stop waving their massive enhancements in our faces.

The best news to me is that Apple actually announced that they’re not upgrading Aperture, so at lease we can stop hoping and expecting it. Six months ago my friend Nancy asked me to recommend a photo management app to replace iPhoto, and I told her to wait because for SURE Aperture would updated soon.

The next best news is exactly what they said in the announcement, as posted by Jim Darymple on The Loop, at loopinsight.com:

“With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture,” said Apple in a statement provided to The Loop. “When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.”

So both iPhoto and Aperture will go away and Photos will take their place. We have several ways to think about this, depending on your optimistic vs. pessimistic view of the world.

  • Apple will do to Photos what they did to iMovie, Final Cut and iWork – leave out major features on which professionals depend, and make a dumbed down application that pleases the masses but not the serious users
  • Apple will make Photos amazing integrating the best of the lower end tools and the high-end editing tools for a photo experience that will blow our minds.

The thing is, whether you go with optimism or pessimism, there’s one thing we know for sure, there’s no replacement for Aperture for another year. That means a total of five years without an update. That bums me out big time.

However, I’m still glad they didn’t leave us hanging, that they gave us this much information. This level of communication with us is a very new thing from Apple.

I promised at the beginning of this that I would make it interesting for non-photographers. My premise is that in our geek lives at some point in time we’ll have to change away from our favorite application to a new one. I have always been a strong believer that if you’re really good at one program, you should be able to get really good at the new one too. I remember at work many years ago these guys who were entrenched in one mechanical CAD program said they’d rather be fired than switch. Sadly they thought that made them more valuable to the company … turns out they were wrong.

I’m trying to wrap my brain around my own philosophy on that and apply it here. I’m starting to feel sympathy for the CAD guys I’m afraid. When I think about switching applications, I think my beloved Excel vs. Google Docs (I’ve almost entirely switched) or from Word to Bean or even Text Edit and I don’t break a sweat at all. However, when it comes to Aperture, there’s so much history at stake it’s really hard to imagine switching. I mentioned earlier that the competitor is Adobe Lightroom, which has been advanced regularly by Adobe and from what I hear is a terrific product. It does much of what Aperture can do, has more capabilities in some ways than Aperture, but it’s got some drawbacks as well. Let’s think through some of the things that give me cold chills about changing to Lightroom.

Let me give a few examples:

  • When you edit a photo in Aperture or iPhoto, the edits are non-destructive. You can crop away, darken, lighten, change the colors, get rid of red eye, anything you want and you can ALWAYS get back to the original photo. If you move your photo library to Lightroom, all of these changes are gone. Aperture (and Lightroom like it) store the changes in meta data, and they’re not interchangeable.
  • Aperture was a one time cost for version 2, and an upgrade cost for version 3, and then partway through the most recent life cycle, Apple let everyone have the App Store version. This actually seems just, since they haven’t put much work into enhancing it, right?
  • Lightroom used to be triple the cost of Aperture which was another reason I didn’t go with it. Now they advertise that it’s a monthly fee, but that’s really a misdirect – it’s an annual fee that’s billed monthly. Some see it as a good value, $120 a year for Lightroom and Photoshop. I don’t need Photoshop because I bought Photoshop Elements. Remember that? Three weeks later Adobe came out with an App Store version and told me to pound sand that I couldn’t have it.
  • Lightroom is from Adobe. Enough said? Security holes, mean business practices (they used to charge Australians 2X for their Creative Suite just because they could), and lovely bloatware.
  • Aperture integrates with the Mac much more easily. Inside all of the Apple apps that have media libraries, you can see your Aperture library. From Aperture I can go right into Mail. I have access to Photo Streams which I love for sharing with my family. I can open my Aperture Library inside iPhoto and make my yearly calendars and lovely photo books.

For me, the answer will be to wait and see what happens in Photos. Now that I know how long I’ll be waiting, I think I can stand it. Like I said, not knowing was much harder. I’ll be first in line downloading Photos when it comes out, and I’m sure I’ll find a lot to whine about, but it will be fun to play with something new. The big question will be whether they really care about photographers or just the every day snap shooter. I’m encouraged by Joseph over at Aperture Expert apertureexpert.com who was contacted directly by Apple on the subject. He sees the fact that they contacted him and others in the pro photographer world as a sign that Apple does care about us and will make it awesome. Here’s hoping.

7 thoughts on “Aperture Dead or Alive

  1. Steven Goetz - June 29, 2014

    I agree 100%

  2. Stefaan Lesage - June 30, 2014

    Sadly enough, I have to agree too. I would consider moving to Lightroom, but the monthly fees are holding me back. Additionally, as you mentioned we would probably loose all edits we did on our images, and probably all structures / keywording as well 🙁

  3. Jamie Cox - July 2, 2014

    I bought Aperture not too long ago, while realizing that it hadn’t been updated as well as it ought to have been. I want to like Aperture, but would love a serious alternative. Anything from Adobe is a non-starter. Untrustworthy, overpriced bloatware, there.

    I haven’t got used to Aperture yet. Translation: The Aperture import process left me with a bunch of blurry thumbnails, but no actual photos — my photos are gone, poof. A thing like that makes you skittish.

  4. David Allen Wizardgold - July 5, 2014

    I am going wait and see. I will continue using Aperture until the feature set in Photos is level (Which it will be at some point) or better and then change over. We have let Apple know how we feel about this and I expect they will want to keep the Pros onboard by giving a better product that is easy to use for everybody and has the depth of capabilities to have the professional photographers on board.

    Mind you – Pro photographers can be a snobby lot and would perhaps not want to use an app that was for the great unwashed populace to use also, even if it does the job perfectly….

  5. Dave Deitrick - July 8, 2014

    There doesn’t seem to be a reason to hurry up and do anything about Aperture right now, especially if you are heavily invested with time and resources. What we have still works.

    From what I have read, the new Photos app may well be able to replace Aperture for many of us who are not professionals, but want or need more than the current iPhoto provides. The biggest concern I have about this part is the ability of Aperture to work with new RAW formats as they come out.

    On the other hand, waiting for something new could save us a lot of money, since we wouldn’t buy new cameras until we knew what was going to happen.

    Whatever happens, I think that the lines between professional & amateur photographers may widen a bit. For many amateurs, the cost of lightroom/photoshop subscription may well cause them to balk. It certainly wouldn’t be worth it to me given my current level of activity in photography.

  6. podfeet - July 8, 2014

    You make some good points, Dave. It’s not like Aperture stopped working all of a sudden or lost capabilities. It’s just not going to change but it will continue to do what it does until Photos comes out. I just wish Photos was coming out sooner! I want new toys!

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