What iTunes can learn from Aperture 1.5

Summary:About six months ago I switched from iPhoto to Aperture and the switch has not been painless. I originally switched to Aperture when I purchased a new Canon Rebel XT DSLR camera because I wanted to use some of Aperture's advanced features. Once I got used to the Aperture interface (not a trivial task) I found it to be an excellent piece of software. The problem is that it's not very forgiving for amateur users and many of the niceties I was used to in iPhoto were missing.

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About six months ago I switched from iPhoto to Aperture and the switch has not been painless. I originally switched to Aperture when I purchased a new Canon Rebel XT DSLR camera because I wanted to use some of Aperture's advanced features. Once I got used to the Aperture interface (not a trivial task) I found it to be an excellent piece of software. The problem is that it's not very forgiving for amateur users and many of the niceties I was used to in iPhoto were missing.

One feature announced yesterday in Aperture 1.5 (US$299, upgrades free) that was sorely needed was an export option for Flickr. iPhoto had it, but its older brother in the professional league didn't. Aperture 1.5's new export API allows you to export images to several third-party services, including Flickr.

Another feature missing in Aperture 1 was integration. Bringing images into Keynote, iWeb or Pages was easy with iPhoto, but Aperture wasn't integrated into Apple's iWork and iLife software suites. This made it especially painful to import images. That problem was fixed yesterday with Aperture 1.5 and we'll now be able to see our Aperture libraries using the media browsers in Apple software.

The other big change in Aperture 1.5 is the ability to store your main image library on a computer at home or in the studio while toting a lower-resolution version of the images on a MacBook for slide shows. This is a brilliant feature because Aperture can quickly fill a hard drive - especially when you're importing high-resolution photos. Being able to select the location of your library and carry a low-res proxy image library on your portable could be extended to other applications as well.

iTunes should take a page out of Aperture's book. One of its biggest problems is the lack of a centralized music library. iTunes is not exactly family friendly when you have multiple music libraries and multiple iPods (as I suspect many households have) under the same roof. It would be great if iTunes allowed you to store your main music library on a dedicated Mac in your home and all of the other Macs could play music from it and iPods could sync to/from it.

Obviously, each iTunes client (and iPod) accessing the central music library would have to be authorized - to appeased the RIAA and MPAA - but that isn't hard. Apple took a step in the right direction by adding multiple library support in iTunes 7 (hold the option key when launching iTunes), but households with multiple Macs and iPods need more.

Apple could take it one step further by allowing me to carry a subset of my iTunes music on my MacBook Pro. This would be great for users with large music libraries that don't want 60GB of music clogging their portable. The new feature could be called "MacBook Sync," and it would allow you to sync to your master music library just like an iPod syncs now. You could sync all music, just selected playlists or an "intelligent shuffle" that would only copy music over based on what you've been listening to lately or a simple random sync.

Heck, while we're at it, Apple should acquire Last.fm and really make the "intelligent shuffle" feature sing. Last.fm watches what music you listen to and offers custom recommendations and personalized radio based on your tastes.

More media library centralization is clearly coming with Apple's "iTV" announcement in January and I hope that Apple is paying attention.

Topics: Apple

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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