Friday, June 27, 2014

Apple Stops Development of Aperture

Jim Dalrymple:

Apple introduced a new Photos app during its Worldwide Developers Conference that will become the new platform for the company. As part of the transition, Apple told me today that they will no longer be developing its professional photography application, Aperture.

[…]

Apple was very clear when I spoke with them this morning that development on other pro apps like Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro is continuing. Professionals in those app categories should not worry about their apps—they will continue as normal.

I would have thought that Final Cut Pro X was the warning to video professionals. Apple may care about a particular product category, but it seems to have little regard for files, AppleScript workflows, or plug-ins that professionals (or even prosumers) rely on.

Jason Snell:

The Photos app, previewed at the 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference, will become the company’s main photographic focus for both professionals and consumers. As it grows, Apple intends the single app to serve the needs of both consumers and professionals. (That will be an interesting challenge; it will be intriguing to see how Apple puts all of its photographic eggs in a single basket.)

The same will be true on the iOS side, where the mobile iPhoto app will disappear and the Photos app will become the focus of Apple’s photography-related app development when iOS 8 is released in the Fall.

It was not explicitly said, but it seems clear that this consolidation will come at the expense of the professional features.

Benjamin Mayo:

The new Photos app will include many of the advanced features contained within iPhoto and Aperture, but also offers the big advantage of syncing with iCloud Photo Library, which will sync every photo you take when iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite ship later this year.

One of the best parts of Aperture is its filing system and storage options. The focus of the Photos app is the cloud. I doubt local storage features will make the cut. I’m guessing that by “advanced features” Apple does not mean offline images and masters stored across multiple drives, but rather “some of the editing controls that are not in iPhoto.”

Matthew Panzarino:

Apple says that it will provide compatibility updates to Aperture that allow it to run on OS X Yosemite, but will not continue to develop it. Adobe says that it will ‘double down’ on Lightroom support and offer Apple users a way to migrate.

[…]

Article updated to clarify that there is no official workflow for migrating to Lightroom.

I tried Lightroom early on but much preferred the way Aperture was designed. I still really like Aperture, even with lack of updates. Part of the appeal of apps like Aperture is that your whole edit history is stored. Now that is likely lost, along with the GPS tracks that I imported. I don’t see how much can be migrated to Lightroom, which has a different engine for applying adjustments—and also a different data model in other respects.

Update (2014-06-27): Winston Hendrickson (via John Gruber):

Put simply we’re doubling down on our investments in Lightroom and the new Creative Cloud Photography plan and you can expect to see a rich roadmap of rapid innovation for desktop, web and device workflows in the coming weeks, months and years. We also continue to invest actively on the iOS and OSX platforms, and are committed to helping interested iPhoto and Aperture customers migrate to our rich solution across desktop, device and web workflows.

Jeffrey Tranberry:

We’re working on a way for iPhoto and Aperture customers to more easily migrate to Lightroom. As of right now, your best bet is to save any metadata to your files, then import the files directly from disk. (Note: Aperture develop settings aren’t compatible. If you want to preserve the look of your image edits, export rendered versions of your files from Aperture to import to Lightroom).

That’s what I was afraid of.

Update (2014-06-28): There are lots of comments at ApertureExpert and Ars Technica.

Jesper:

When the groundbreaking Lamborghini portable ash tray/coin receptacle ships next year, Lamborghini drivers will be able to migrate their existing pennies and/or cents. Lamborghini’s well-known track record in ad-hoc loose small-denomination currency storage and management is unparalleled and unrepentant.

Sam Machkovech:

When asked about what Aperture-like features users can expect from the new Photos app, an Apple representative mentioned plans for professional-grade features such as image search, editing, effects, and most notably, third-party extensibility.

Nick Heer:

I mean, the new Photos app is really impressive, but it’s not Aperture. It absolutely looks like a valid replacement for iPhoto, but not Aperture. I could switch to Lightroom, but I hate its editing workflow.

John Gordon:

Meanwhile, in the real world, the announcement that Aperture was dead, and that Apple was effectively abandoning professional photography, appeared via Jim Dalrymple’s blog. Aperture remained on sale in the App Store while muddled Apple clarifications showed up in various blogs. Some said saying there would be support through Yosemite, others hinted at helping Adobe with migration to Lightroom. As end-of-life announcements go it was a complete screw-up.

[…]

As of today none of my 20,000 or so non-destructive image edits will convert to Lightroom, much less album/image relationships, image/project, folder/image/project, folder/project comments, geo-tags and more.

[…]

The way Apple executed Aperture’s termination is a rich lesson in the consequences of data lock (a risk I understood when I signed up with iPhoto long years ago).

Clark Goble:

You’d think they’d have learned after the Final Cut Pro mess and the iWork mess how to make these announcements.

[…]

The issue isn’t Apple killing a dying product. Rather the issue fundamentally is why people should trust Apple with their data when they’ve pulled this three times in a row.

Update (2014-06-30): There are more comments from TidBITS readers.

Update (2014-07-06): Jeff Carlson:

Apple has a notorious history of clear-cutting old software to make room for new in this way. iMovie, for example, gained a brand new approach with iMovie ’08, but didn’t catch up to the previous version’s feature set for a couple of revisions. And many Final Cut Pro users are still hanging onto their editing systems three years after the introduction of Final Cut Pro X. The ones who did make the switch wisely completed projects in the old version and reserved Final Cut Pro X for use with new projects.

With photos, however, you can’t just disregard old photos and move forward with the new, unless you’re willing to make a clean break and risk that your old library may become inaccessible. Part of having a photo library is to be able to reach into it to find old images. Abandoning a mature application like Aperture, where users probably manage thousands or tens of thousands of images, is complicated.

[…]

Chances are, unless Apple has really spent all this time building a deep application while ignoring Aperture and iPhoto, Photos for OS X will fall down in one or more of those areas. (I’d love to be proved wrong.) But Apple’s pattern of re-engineering applications and releasing them with core — not comprehensive — functionality doesn’t make me optimistic.

John Gordon:

“Wow, we’re gonna have a lot of mad customers. But, hell, what are they gonna do? It’s easier to change gender than to move from Aperture to Lightroom — and Adobe ain’t gonna last much longer anyway. There’s no money in pro software, and they got nothing else.”

Robert Boyer:

Are pro needs really different from consumer needs in still photography? I’ll venture that they are not.

Update (2014-07-11): Jeff Carlson:

No matter what’s to come, you can start to take steps now to prepare for your transition—whether that means switching to Photos or migrating to another third-party photo application.

8 Comments

"[Other professionals] should not worry about their apps—they will continue as normal."

Herp-derp.

So for my Lightroom migration I have 25,000 photos to re-edit, several hundred groups and albums to recreate, hundreds of comments, smart albums....

Gruber's 'cookie crumbles' comment has taken me 80% of the way to killing his feed.

@John I can be slow sometimes, but lesson learned. I can’t see relying on an Apple app that could possibly strand my data again. At the time, it really seemed like Apple was committed to Pro apps, Aperture was so good, without a way to migrate out it wasn’t the kind of app that could be abandoned, and Adobe’s apps weren’t the best Mac citizens. But I should have realized that Adobe would care more/longer about keeping the users of its apps happy. The fact that it’s another reboot rather than leaving the app category entirely is, in a way, less consolation. If this is how Apple rolls, it’s only a matter of time before it happens again.

"I can be slow sometimes, but lesson learned. I can’t see relying on an Apple app that could possibly strand my data again."

I greatly respect you, Michael, but if you're finally figuring this out now, you are indeed molasses slow. This lesson should have been learned many, many years ago.

"But I should have realized that Adobe would care more/longer about keeping the users of its apps happy."

Microsoft and Adobe certainly have their problems, but I've long trusted that it was in their interests to move heaven and earth before stranding their app users. And coming to that realization has made my life far easier over the years.

@Chucky I wouldn’t make that mistake today. But, yes, I had not figured it out by 2005 when Aperture debuted. At that time, I think Apple had an OK track record with Pro apps. FileMaker had recently gotten a good update. AppleWorks had not yet been discontinued. I think that was around the time when Adobe was ruining Photoshop Elements and had already discontinued the Mac versions of Premiere and FrameMaker (which burned me).

Apple loves to disrupt itself, here replacing iPhoto/Aperture with Photos. Hardware disruption is easier on users because we can continue using our old devices and the real disruption is just in sales flows. With software, though, our data is thrown into the mix and here we see more of the destructive side of abrupt disruption. (I'm still waiting for Pages AppleScript support that will allow for Papers reference citations to work properly again.)

But that said, we don't have all the information about Photos, and I'm going to withhold judgement as my usage of Aperture has plummeted in recent years given increased reliance on photo stream on iPhone and iPad. I suspect that grafting iCloud photo library support onto Aperture was seen as a stop-gap not worth pursuing and that the ten-year old code base was getting stale by Apple/iOS standards. Even recognizing that, however, Apple still needs to learn to be responsive to users to data we have tied up in these things. There should be information from day one with specifics on how to migrate, what will migrate, what features are coming, what features are going. More communication is clearly better when livelihoods and user data and workflows are concerned.

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