#278. Aperture users get some encouraging news. Sort of.

By Paul Perton | Opinion

Sep 18
Sunrise, Betty's Bay

Sunrise, Betty’s Bay

When Apple announced it was pulling the developmental plug on our photographic workflow software earlier this year, few of us Aperture users were surprised. It had been several years since Apple had released a significant upgrade, contenting themselves with new RAW converters, point releases, bug fixes and a doughty silence that gave few of us much hope for the future.

By that point (June this year), many had already jumped ship, most opting for Adobe’s Lightroom. I found myself in a quandary; I like Aperture and it’s quirky ways. I don’t like Lightroom, or Adobe’s attitude to licensing, although professionally, I have little choice but to pay up every month for the publishing systems I use.

I spent the first couple of weeks after Apple’s bombshell researching, reading and wondering what I should do. The solution was much simpler than I’d imagined; nothing.

In passing the death sentence on Aperture, Apple also announced that a new app was on the way, intended to bridge both iOS (iPhone and iPad) as well as the Mac on OSX. With it would come a migration path, intended to assist in moving Aperture libraries to Photos.

And, to keep us interested, Apple assured those of us who were hoping for the best, that the next release of OSX (Yosemite) would continue to support Aperture as though nothing had happened.

Worst case scenario then – I had at least eighteen months before the next major operating system upgrade emerged and Yosemite was replaced, taking away Aperture support for ever. Eighteen months to watch what was going on in the industry, plan and make the big move just once. If I jumped ship now, I might end up with incomplete libraries, lost data, missing photographs and a monumental task of putting everything back together, to say nothing of having to work in Lightroom – a prospect I relished as much as sticking pins in my eyes.

In typical Apple fashion, there’s been little news about the new Photos app, but quite a lot about something which will have a massive impact on all of us Mac users – Mac OSX’ shift away from Intel processors to a (desktop) version of iOS and hardware powered by multiple processor/processing cores developed by Apple themselves.

The current iteration of these “A” series processors already power just about everything that Apple makes that isn’t a Macintosh; iPhone, iPad, AppleTV and no doubt, the newly released AppleWatch. And, if it were possible to develop a powerful enough processor (or matrix of processors) to power a desktop system, the need to develop and support both iOS and OSX would disappear. In a nutshell, everything would run a flavour of iOS, there would be 30 million-odd less lines of code to maintain and most of the OSX development team could be re-assigned to more pressing work.

There’s no official timeline for this, but logic has to say that the sooner Apple can move away from that huge codebase, reduce software maintenance and two-stream development by 50% and reduce the cost of the processors in their desktop computers by around US$100 – they will no longer be paying Intel for its intellectual property as all the computing smarts will now be sourced in house – the better.

And, that’s only Mac OSX, the operating system. There are manifold apps to be written, tested and supported. One of those has to be a photo app that is built on a single software foundation and available on every device. Between iPhone and desktop, it’ll be essentially the same app with just some functionality differences platform to platform. That’s hardly a surprise – it’s hard to imagine making curves adjustments on a phone.

It’s three months since Aperture was condemned and aside from the odd whisper, there’s been little published on the subject. Until today, just hours after the latest release of iOS was released. Now, the Interwebs is full of it.

Rooi Els estuary

Rooi Els estuary

Nestling in this veritable hamper of new ideas, apps, functionality and Apple-ness, is the first release of Photos and for the first time in three months, I’m beginning to feel that my procrastination might actually pay off.

Photos is Apple’s new photography application. In it, there’s lots of cleverness but more importantly, for the first time there are new tools which allow the user to use automatic corrections, including image straightening. There is a new aspect ratio-based crop tool and a filters option that enables Instagram-style editing.

Nothing really new there. The old-style volume knob is where Apple has grouped the Light, Color and B&W option. At the bottom of the screen Light offers seven exposure values – three either side of the as shot image. Slide the red divider to the left or right to get the equivalent of more/less exposure.

At first glance, Color is no more than a global saturation control. Tap the three bullet point icon above the film strip and individual sliders for Saturation, Contrast and Cast open. Similarly, B&W which will perform a basic monochrome conversion, or open up to allow the user to set Intensity, Neutrals, Tone and Grain.

If you’re editing photographs on your iPhone, that’s a pretty impressive set of controls, especially as they are all non-destructive, leaving your original image untouched and only applying your edits to deliver a virtual finished image.

Did I say that was pretty impressive? At least it is for today. Soon, we can expect any number of new editing plug-ins which will work in the Photos environment and not only enhance the basic editing controls, but bring a raft of new non-destructive editing options as well. Just like Photoshop.

Like PS, you’d be right in thinking that to make the best of such functionality you’d need a desktop machine rather than an iPhone/iPad. See where this is going yet?

The OSX version of Photos won’t ship with the initial release of Yosemite which is due in the next couple of months. It seems scheduled to appear in Q1 2015 and by then the 3rd party software developers should have the first plug-ins available.

I can hardly wait.

PS! The pictures have no relevance here, I just like them – they’re intended to make ploughing through 1000 words a bit more pleasurable.


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