Bye Bye Aperture. Hello Photos.

Digital photography has made us all photographers. The development of photo processing software has brought the virtual darkroom to millions of computers. For years Adobe’s Lightroom and Apple’s Aperture have been the two most popular editing and management programs, with Lightroom gradually becoming the defacto tool for many professional photographers thanks to regular updates and added features. Personally, I prefer Aperture. I appreciate the logic of its user interface, like its management system and its features, which are plenty for the needs of most of my photos (other requirements are met in Photoshop or various iOS and OSX editing apps), even if its development cycle has been stagnant for some time.

As a satisfied user of Aperture I was dismayed to hear that Apple will stop its development.

In the comments that follow Jim Dalrymple’s announcement of the fact on The Loop, the conclusions of most are that Apple is abandoning professional level photography software. I’m putting my money with the people that think Photos will be more than an updated iPhoto application.

Looking at Apple’s current iOS8 Photos preview page, I noted these snippets of information:

As photo collections grow, so does the desire to store them all safely and still access them whenever and wherever.
iCloud Photo Library automatically keeps all your photos and videos in iCloud, at full resolution in their original formats, including RAW files.
And the edits are nondestructive, so you can always revert back to your original if you change your mind.
iOS 8 also makes it possible for other app developers to create filters and editing tools that you can use in Photos.
And on their OSX Yosemite page:
Photos in OS X is coming early next year.

Here’s what I think.

Cloud storage and access on all Apple devices, full resolution RAW files, non-destructive edits and app plug-ins don’t sound like the kind of features you get in a dumbed-down photo-editing app. With the increasing popularity of mobile photography, iPhoto has become an increasingly important application for the company and its customers, while ‘legacy’ photographers have continued to migrate their digital camera image files to Lightroom and Photoshop because of those products’ continuing development cycles and ever more advanced feature sets. It’s likely that Apple doesn’t want to devote the resources required to maintain two separate photo editing applications that can compete with Adobe’s offerings, so it makes sense to pool resources and work on a single cross-platform product that enables seamless editing and organization of images.

… a customised Photos app on steroids

As announced in Apple’s WWDC Keynote address by Craig Federighi, Photos will be opened to incorporate third party apps: in a sense, plugins. Apple has the benefit of the apps designed by external developers who are creating some amazing software for photographers, from VSCO and SKRWT for iOS to Tonality and Nik Collection for OSX. These kinds of tools will give iOS device photographers the option of creating a customised Photos app on steroids, an editing app more than the sum of its parts.

It looks as if Photos for OSX has still to be finalised as there’s no information yet from the company on its functionality. This suggests that Photos for Mac will not be a simple clone of the iOS app, but that there is more work to be done on this software. In Aperture, Apple has already refined high-grade photo editing features that could be incorporated into OSX Photos. If the company is doing away with both its high-end and low-end photo applications, it makes sense that the replacement software will make use of the premium feature set. Isn’t it also possible that as OSX and iOS are brought closer together by Apple, that the OSX Photos app will also become an open platform for existing — and new — third party iOS and OSX developers and that in-app purchases or a Photos app-store section could also allow users to beef up the capabilities of the software?

I could be way off track here, but Apple’s products have repeatedly changed the paradigm, making what once seemed like the natural way to engage with hardware and software clunky and obsolete—remember floppy disk drives and CD software installations, so it doesn’t seem that far-fetched to think that its developers are looking to create an innovative photography solution that will work seamlessly across Apple devices and scale according to user’s needs by featuring a suite of professional grade tools through optional customization and third party plug ins.

Image: Apple Inc