Aperture at WWDC


Don't worry, you didn't miss any Aperture news from Monday's World Wide Developer's Conference. Or at least not any direct news. A quick history lesson: Aperture 3 was released in February of, wait for it, 2010. It's current version is 3.5.1, which was released in November of 2013. There's been a steady stream of primarily small updates, mainly to accommodate for new Mac hardware. That's 4+ years of the same basic set of tools, user interface, and backend. I assume the backend part as I don't really get into the code level of Aperture. That's a long time to go without seeing a refresh and when the competition has been elevating it's game. And I catch a lot of grief from photography buddies who have been using Lightroom wondering when (not if) I'm going to switch over.

Here's the thing, I spent a considerable amount of time and resources (money) learning how to use Aperture. I don't consider myself an expert, but I feel very comfortable in it, and the more comfortable I am using it the more enjoyable working on photos becomes and the quicker I get work done leaving me more time behind the camera, not in front of the computer. Switching photo cataloging and editing software isn't like switching Twitter clients (for the record I hate all Twitter clients on Android), or your group messaging app of choice for the day/week/month. It's probably closer to an email application or program. You setup your rules and filters, you have the key strokes memorized for quickly powering through your inbox, and your tagging/labeling/folders are all just right. Getting to that point takes time, and the idea of setting up a new client or worse yet, a new account, is a daunting task. That's how I view moving to Lightroom. My keywords are setup just right, my app scripts work the way I want them too (even if I don't quite get why one of them works the way it does), and everything is the way I want it. I have a workflow that addresses both Aperture's strengths and weaknesses in terms of editing. Basically at this point in time everything works, and the things that I wish Aperture did better I've supplemented with a plugin or app.

Aperture works for me now, and for the foreseeable future it will continue to work for me. I'll admit to being anxious about a new version, we all like new stuff, and I've been as guilty as the next person wanting Apple to if not release a new Aperture version, to at least let us know that it's still in the current product pipeline. To let us know that it is still being actively developed. So I wonder if today they gave us a little hint about their plans for Aperture. Apple will be coming out with a new desktop photo application that looks to be a Photos clone from iOS but supposedly with more enhanced and powerful tools in 2015. The details on the product are very thin at the moment, but what that would give us is a very crowded photo application landscape made by Apple; iPhoto, the consumer level photo application, Aperture, the pro level application, and for lack of a better term, Photos. If you ask me (and you didn't) I'd say one of them at least would have to go, and it won't be Photos. I have no idea what the user installed base of iPhoto or Aperture is, but since Aperture is a paid program (an affordable $80) that hasn't seen any noteworthy updates in awhile, I'd bet iPhoto, which is free with any new Mac and iOS device, probably has a lot more users. And while Photos does seem to be touted as being "rewritten from the ground up" seeming to hint at more powerful or efficient tools, the initial, and certainly not final, view of the app doesn't have a pro like feel to it.

If 2015 does bring about Apple's final decision to formally abandon Aperture, the good news is that it won't be the end of the world overnight. I'll still have time to gradually get my workflow situated in Lightroom, and all my plugins will continue to work in both Aperture and Lightroom. RAW photo support is handled at the operating system level, so unless Apple actively makes OS X 10.10 not compatible with Aperture I should be fine with respect to new camera profiles. So I will continue to happily use my "outdated" software, while keeping an eye out for signs of life in Cupertino.

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