Apple orphans Aperture, imaging pros unhappy

According to reports, Apple is stopping work on Aperture, its professional photo-editing application and will instead focus efforts on the forthcoming Photos software due with the OS X Yosemite. Some content professionals aren't pleased with the news.
Written by David Morgenstern, Contributor

Apple's relationship with professional content creators continues to strain with the news that the company will drop future development of its Aperture image-editing application. The "announcement" was delivered on the cusp of the weekend at several tech blogs.

"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. When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.”

Apple orphans Aperture, imaging pros unhappy

Reports said that Apple confirmed that iPhoto will also be discontinued and that Aperture will run on OS X Yosemite. But beyond that, the story will be Photos, which Apple introduced at its Worldwide Developers Conference.

At Loop Insight, Jim Dalrymple said that Apple would continue development on other pro apps like Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro. And there is a report that Apple will offer some transition software to Adobe Lightroom. "Professionals in those app categories should not worry about their apps — they will continue as normal."

According to digital photo consultant Lloyd Chambers at the Mac Performance Guide, it is "unreal" to expect that an "iPhoto/iCloud mongrel" can replace Aperture. "Yes, it’s fine for basic stuff and has merits within circumscribed bounds — not saying otherwise. But it has many troubling issues," he said.

Add the painfully long delay in the Mac Pro line (5 years), the Apple Core Rot and eye candy feature focus, the cancellation of hardware like XServe, and it has long been obvious that professionals have not been a target market for Apple for quite some time.

I’ve long advised my consulting clients to avoid Apple Aperture because several years ago Apple began to show a disdain for the needs of professional users: the release of Final Cut Pro X, which (incredibly) offered no compatibility with Final Cut projects (for quite some time, now it does). Professionals need to know that their investment (hardware, software, experience + workflow) will not just be discarded. Adobe to the rescue: the professional market is taken seriously.

An interesting review of RAM image converter solutions from Nik Jewell at the Nomad Lens blog also concluded that Aperture was suffering when it comes to performance. Adobe Lightroom, with its stronger digital-asset management features as a bonus, scored well in comparison.

Aperture, I feel, is simply suffering from neglect. I have little doubt that three or four years ago it was producing images of a similar quality to the rest of the RAW converters here but, now, they have all moved on and Aperture has been left behind.

AfterShot Pro is, in retrospect, an application that I shouldn’t have bothered testing. Whilst it has some decent tools it is simply unable to deliver images of similar quality to the other RAW converters.

Programmer Marco Arment said he will be sorry to see Aperture's image organizational features go. However, the forthcoming Photos app should be better for those "who wanted Aperture’s powerful RAW adjustment tools but with simpler iPhoto-like management and iOS-device sync."

Plus, Aperture has been plagued with bugs, poor performance, slow updates, and extreme neglect for most of its life. It defined a useful category, then let the better-executed, better-maintained Lightroom eat its lunch. I’ve used many versions of each for extended periods, and Lightroom is the better app by far, especially in performance, editing tools, and adjustment quality. Sure, the interface is a bit weird, but so is Aperture’s.

However, Clark Goble at Clark's Tech Blog said there was no reason for Apple to worry professional customers. Why not continue maintenance releases, he suggested. It's all about trust, he said.

The real question now is, as Apple pushes more and more the lock-in of iCloud, of iBooks, and of iTunes video, why should we trust Apple if they don’t have a way to get the data out? This is the thing that some activists have preached for years and most of us have discounted. But now I think it’s a real question Apple has unintentionally made very significant. Why should I trust Apple not to lose interest in iBooks if sales drop? (Which apparently they have.) iTunes Music isn’t a big deal because there’s no DRM. But the rest? Why should I store files in iWork?

Goble has it right. Apple keeps focusing on the lowest common denominator for its software solutions and leaving the professional solutions as the proverbial "third-party opportunities." The question is whether Mac third-party developers will target this market. And then there's Adobe. Will it decide to offer a version that addresses the differing needs of Mac users?

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