The one Aperture feature that I can't live without (and alternatives)

Apple announced on Friday that it is discontinuing its photo applications Aperture and iPhoto. Here's what I'll miss most and what I'm going to use until Photos arrives in 2015.

The one Aperture feature that I can't live without (and alternatives) - Jason O'Grady
(Photo: Apple)

Loop Insight's Jim Dalrymple reported on Friday that Apple was discontinuing its Aperture and iPhoto software packages to focus on development of its forthcoming Photos app for OS X and iOS 8 — which was briefly previewed at WWDC earlier this month. 

As a long-suffering Aperture user with over 38k images in my library (since 2009), the news was both a surprise and a relief. Although I've been begging Apple for a meaningful Aperture update for years (only to get the occasional bug fix) I was glad to see some of the new features in Photos demonstrated at WWDC (all your photos in the cloud, anyone?) and that Apple had some sort of vision for photo management in light of the MobileMe galleries fiasco of 2012.

My colleague David Morgenstern noted today that  professional photographers are (predictably) upset about Aperture's untimely demise, but it's reassuring to know that Apple's putting all of its resources into the new Photos app that will arrive in "2015." Some information is better than none, and frankly it gives me an opportunity to test out the competition ahead of the Photos launch next year.

I stuck with Aperture for so long for one feature: Photo Stream (now called iCloud Photo Sharing). It works like this: I snap a photo on my iPhone (or iPad) and it's immediately synced to the cloud and available in Aperture or iPhoto.

It sounds simple, but it's the reason that I didn't migrate to Adobe Lightroom years ago. I blog a lot of photos that I shoot with my iPhone, and iCloud Photo Sharing is the fastest way to get photos onto my Mac. I  take a photo with my iPhone and within seconds it appears in Aperture's iCloud library on my MacBook Pro. From there I can crop, manipulate and correct it, export it and import it into a CMS. 

Although Lightroom doesn't have the ability to read my iCloud Photo library (yet, anyway) this isn't a deal breaker as the feature can be recreated with a little elbow-grease and a paid DropBox account. If you want to dump Aperture or iPhoto and switch to Lightroom you can automatically sync your photos to the cloud with Dropbox by enabling its camera upload feature.

I have a 100GB/$99 per year DropBox account with camera uploads enabled on both my Mac and my iPhone, and my iPhone photos are automatically uploaded to a folder called "Camera Uploads" in my DropBox folder. From there it's easy to grab a recent photo and blog it or share it on social media.

Boom. Problem solved.

One option is to tough it out with Aperture (and its antiquated folder management scheme, lack of Instagram sharing, and atrocious Library format). Another is to test the waters with a mature and modern photo management solution that's rapidly evolving and receiving regular updates: Adobe Lightroom 5. Which is what I'm doing.

Adobe Lightroom 5 - Jason O'Grady
(Photo: Adobe)

Since there's a full six months left before 2015 begins and Photos starts shipping (although it's doubtful that Apple will actually ship a fully functional Photos app on January 1) this gives me plenty of time to test my photo workflows with Lightroom and to see what I've been missing all these years.