Blog Post

A Plea for a Significant Aperture Update

Stay on Top of Emerging Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Through the past three quarters, Aperture users (like myself) have only seen two updates to the pro-level photo processing and organization application from Apple — and those have really only been stability type releases. About a year ago we saw Aperture’s consumer-level sibling get places and faces and some of us figured Aperture wasn’t far behind. Seems we may have figured wrong. I think Aperture users have been patient enough — we want a meaningful update already!

First, to clear the air: I like Aperture, and it works well for me. But it’s application envy that’s got my level of rile slowly compounding, as I watch the ‘little brother’ (iPhoto) get powerful features, and the competing Adobe Lightroom continue to wow and delight users. And at a $200 investment in the software, I feel like I need to stay committed to it and get my money’s worth. But I wonder at what point those of us using Aperture have begun suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, and are defending our captors rather than breaking free for greener pastures.

As a potential conflict of interest, I co-manage a Denver area Photoshop and Lightroom user group. It came about mostly out of my enjoyment of mingling with other shutter-happy folks, but has resulted in slowly painting me green with envy. Lightroom does some seriously awesome stuff! Starting with the fact that it’s 64-bit (which is huge when handling large image processing tasks), and it can handle area-specific color editing with brushes, and so on. It’s a super solid photo processing and organization tool. To boot, Adobe is very public about making its beta release of the upcoming version 3 available for anyone to try. It’s getting harder and harder to rationalize my devotion to Aperture.

Look, I realize Aperture isn’t broken, but neither was my last MacBook when I replaced it. I think we’re all guilty (at some level — I’m closer to the top, I’m sure) of wanting more. More power, more bells and whistles, more better! But If Apple’s going to offer a pro-level tool, it needs to give it care and feeding, thusly, showing some love to those who’ve shelled out good money for it. Here are some features I think Aperture needs to keep current users happy.


Snow Leopard supports it now, so what reason is there not to offer this? I had a post similar to this ready around Snow Leopard launch, and trashed it because I figured it was a no-brainer that we’d see an update along these lines to Aperture in the following weeks. I am Jack’s broken heart.

Faces & Places

Aperture should at least keep up with its consumer level sibling. Faces and places are very useful tools — and it drives me batty having to manually tag my Aperture photos with this information.

Fix Tethered Shooting

To my knowledge, it’s probably limited to the Canon 40D, but Apple broke the ability to shoot in tethered mode for my dSLR a while back. This is lame. I want a fix!!

Focused Editing

Taking a page out of the Adobe book, I’d like to see the ability to apply edits to only select parts of a photo. Sometimes you only want to lighten, darken, or change color of a specific part, not the whole thing. I realize this is more an image editing feature, and not processing, but I’ve seen it in Lightroom, and I desire it.

These are just a few ideas, things that are ultimately important to me (though I think they’re general enough that others would agree). But what else? Let’s hear from the Aperture users, or potential Aperture users. What would you need to see in a hopefully sooner than later update to Aperture, to keep you happy and on board with Apple? What would cause you to jump ship and pursue other solutions?

35 Responses to “A Plea for a Significant Aperture Update”

  1. bugsyrocker

    There is only feature I’m looking for. Maybe I just haven’t found the right mixture of organization. I want a feature that allows me to lock a photo or apply the status of a photo (to be edited, edited, ready for print, lock edits, etc)

    And I want to be able to apply multiple labels!

    But wow, this is great software though.

  2. Aperture 2 + Nik plug-ins, my perfect combo for large format, fine art printing. All to naught since my purchase of new full frame sensor Sony alpha 850.
    No camera RAW processing from Aperture.
    Lightroom 2 now supports its Sony alpha a850 RAW.
    Still waiting for Aperture. No answer from Apple support group on RAW
    Left out in the cold by Apple.

  3. Yeah – I wrote this too! Wants as described by others – especially localized adjustments, layers, and graduated add and subtracting light such as in PS4. Also, better IPTC options. They don’t match many other programs and sites that host IPTC fields. Maybe be on the forefront and create a Scientific Name or Latin Name field!
    The problem is also in the ability to opt out of Aperture – after all the thousands of photos that have been worked on, how is it possible to export the raw files with their adjustments into another raw editing software. You are either stuck with exporting just the raw files and losing all the work that has been done, or exporting a jpg or the like separately and choosing between the raw and the export. No transferring of the ‘work’ that has been put into each photo.

  4. Seems to me that Apple won’t release Aperture 3 until Lightroom 3 is finalized. Expecting it some time around April 1. It would be perfect timing to put it out a week before Adobe releases Lightroom 3. Too late for them to respond to whatever is in it, and early enough to get the word out before anyone drops hard earned cash on Lightroom. If it doesn’t come out by then, Lightroom may take most of the market.

  5. First let me say that I am a Lightroom user and have been since the first beta. I have never even tried Aperture (I am still running Tiger on a Power PC so I had no choice).

    I love Apple as much as the next fanboy, but they do occasionally lay eggs. This all sounds like blind loyalty to Apple for no apparent reason. If LR is a superior product then buy it and use it. Period. Apple will get the message. To sit and whine about why the product you own is inferior to another product is a waste of time. Either go buy LR or live with the choice you have made in using Aperture.

    • Because the reality Paul is;

      b) We’ve invested hard cash in the app
      b) We’ve invested significant time in learning the app and building workflows
      c) There is a significant challenge in porting the aperture library to lightroom

  6. Just can’t continue to hang on, hang in, wait, thumb twiddle, beg, plead, hope, cry, beg some more. It’s been what a year? Longer? Since anything significant! Feel like I am running out of patience, tried LR loved the extra features hated the UI. As soon as the new mac pro is out I am upgrading my power pc and jumping ship to capture one pro, LR is not a pro app as I see it, but if aperture was a wine it would def be a vintage…..

  7. Lightroom is a fine product and based on the betas I’ve played with, it may have some advantages, but I still prefer the Aperture interface and workflow overall. Like others though, I wish Apple were a bit more transparent with their product development plans.

    • Stuart B

      I agree with Steve. I have dabbled with LR2 and just don’t like the interface, organisation or modular approach. I really like the local editing & presets in LR and have been hoping for its inclusion in Aperture for some time. Rumors point towards an Aperture X (3) release very soon though. I’ve seen some suggestions posted that it may come out at the same time as the Tablet. Fingers crossed.

    • I agree, that the interface for Lightroom leaves a lot to be desired. They have divided Library and Develop into two separate areas but at the same time allowed a number or things to be done in both. So you do something in one, then try another command that you expect to be able to do but then find that you’re in the wrong module so you can’t do that until you switch. Terrible implementation of a UI.

      That said, it’s features are far superior, and general management of files I find far easier.

  8. Couldn’t agree more. In fact, last week I downloaded the LR2 trial (love it!) and the LR3 beta (haven’t tried it yet) and have already decided to dump Aperture after using it from version 1. It started off better than LR way back then, but has clearly lost ground. As for iPhoto ’09, it’s fine, but I don’t like the way it builds virtually impenetrable libraries of your original images which you have to dig through to get at the original copies or have to export duplicates in order to do anything with them in other software. Aperture is a little better in this respect with its ability to work with referenced files, but even that is a hassle. I MUCH prefer the way LR and Picasa allows you to have your files anywhere. In fact, I’ve been using Picasa more than iPhoto lately because of this. And this is coming from a devoted Apple user who rid himself of all Microsoft products years ago….

  9. Echoing a lot that has already be said. I have used Aperture since v1 and think it is a superb application with a very gentle learning curve. However it is simply falling behind Lightroom and not just technically but also from a community development/support perspective. How many Aperture blogs/tutorial sites are out there vs Lightroom?

    I have been considering moving to Lightroom for the last several months now but it is a big decision to have to change my workflow and learn a new tool. I will wait til April and then make a decision.

  10. The reason for an upgrade is to stay competitive. When pro level cameras are not supported by pro level software, then that software is relegated to hobby level.

    Apple has been very successful with consumer level items, but what allowed them to survive during the lean years was the dedication of niche pros in the arts world… designers, filmmakers, photographers and the like. These were the Mac evangelists when the rest of the world went Windows.

    If Apple does not release a significant reworking of Aperture in the near future, it signals the end of Apple as a pro tool and defines it as a consumer appliance.

    I have been using a Mac since 1984 and I love Aperture, but I am now looking twice at Lightroom. If I do not get the update by the end of CES, then I will switch.

  11. Not a good time to buy any Apple Pro Apps.
    They have to much on their plate at this time and are not about to put their extremely limited resources to regularly update software.

    It was obvious with iLife which came many months late and missed an iteration and also with Final Cut which was only a marginal update that took over 2 years.

  12. I hope the folks at Apple are listening. It really sees like thier attention is away from aperture right now, a great application. It took then WAYYY too long to support my D300s.

    So even though my camera is now supported I would like them to expand the number of camera RAW files they support. A faster interface (those 12MP RAW files are starting to bog things
    down a bit. Also, I’m not one who wants to do a lot of detailed image editing (that is what Photoshop is for), but some basic sharpening/bluring functions would be nice, and image correction such as something to fix the chromatic aborition in my new telephoto lens.

    But I would like to think that any wish list we
    might come up with would be moot at this point, hopefully apple is well on their way to finishing aperture 3.0 and delivering it to us.

  13. It’s safe to assume that everyone at Apple – all the way up to Steve Jobs – is as painfully aware of Aperture’s deficiencies as all of us are. The only real question is WTF is taking so long. I think we can assume 64 bit will be a certainty. As for the rest, let’s hope the ridiculous delay means a major rewrite and/or feature upgrade is coming. For me, the 2 most wanted improvements are in overall speed/responsiveness, and localized adjustments a la Lightrooms brush features. Aperture’s still the superior DAM, but it’s WAY behind on the image editing front, and I’m getting increasingly green with Lightroom envy in that area, and I find myself thinking about migrating to LR for good more and more. If Aperture 3 doesn’t show up in 2010 Q1, I will likely be doing just that though.

  14. Here in Canada Lightroom is just about double the price of Aperture, so I suppose some difference in capability could be justified (though I tend to the belief that Adobe prices are about double what they should be). I’ve been an Aperture user for a long time, but when I picked up a Canon 7D, it was the LR 3.0 beta to which I turned in order to process RAW. Eventually Apple came through, but mRAW and sRAW are still unsupported. Sure, I can blame Canon for not supplying the API in a timely manner, but if Apple is going to support imaging, I want Apple to support imaging with new cameras as soon as possible.

    LR 3.0 impressed me. Aperture is no longer shiny – but I want it to be, before I am reluctantly pulled to LR.

  15. I don’t have any issues with Aperture 2, yet I’d like an update.

    I could care less about faces and places. My project names are usually the place or the face and I’m shooting faces that I don’t know or care about.

    64-bit and Grand Central support would make me get an 24″ iMac i7 today.

    Layers would rock. Selective adjustment brush like Lightroom would rock x2.

    I have Lightroom2, I’ve used it. I do love two or three things about it, but it’s too painfull to use. I used Aperture first and and just now really getting back into using Photoshop. Adobe needs to learn UI.

    Peteyz – I would LOVE, LOVE LOVE to have a media central server for iLife, iWork, Aperture etc. I would pay whatever Apple would charge for it. I’d like to see version control type features with it so I could make changes and someone else could make changes, then merge them.

    The era of a single user with a single computer is LONG gone. It’s time for our software to reflect that.

  16. I’m with Loren. I could’ve easily written this article as well. Here’s my list. 64-bit goodness. Layers (if Pixelmator can do it, why can’t Apple?). Faces, Places, but UBER Faces and Places that a PRO app should have. Fast and easy full-screen viewing and editing. What I REALLY want (and they could do this with iPhoto too) is some sort of Apple Photo server system which could allow me to put all my photos on a drive connected to the Airport (or the desktop) that I could access from the local network and the internet. That way I could move libraries off the “work” drives and keep some semblance of order. Come to think of it, they should do the same with iTunes, iMovie, etc.

  17. For a minute I thought I’d written this article, since it shares my most recent thoughts. I’ve recently gone looking for information on possible updates, but tired of all the empty speculation.

    Certainly a switch to 64 bit is long overdue. I thought this would happen with the release of Snow Leapord.

    I would like to see the ability to use layers and simple filters integrated into the system.

    More importantly I’d like to be able to specify default settings and not have them overridden, like where pictures will be stored. I can’t remember how many times I’ve had to move pictures from my user profile because I didn’t check the settings when importing.

  18. Until recently I never had used either Aperture or Lightroom. A couple months ago I started using the Lightroom 3 beta (why not — it’s free) and also did a trial run with Aperture (why not — it was free). My impression is pretty clear-cut: I wouldn’t buy Aperture 2 because it isn’t competitive with Lightroom 3 in any regard, near as I could tell. Of course, that’s no surprise, since Aperture 2 is quite old at this stage. The Lightoom 3 beta, which I like very much, expires in April, so I presume Adobe’s commercial release will come out just before that. If, at that time, there is no Aperture 3, I will happily buy Lightroom 3. I’m hoping Apple will put out Aperture 3 before that, though — I like Apple software and would love to see what might be cooking for Aperture 3 … but, unless Apple does something to whet our appetites, I wouldn’t hesitate to commit to Adobe instead. I wonder how many people there are in the marketplace like me — pretty much free agents and happy to pay whichever company comes out with the best product. Unfortunately at the moment only one of the two companies appears certain to come out with the new generation product soon — and that company doesn’t appear to be Apple. Hope I get to eat my words.

    P.S. I also did a trial download of Bibble 5, which is a very nice product, too, but I like Lightroom better.

  19. And they REALLY need to support cameras faster! It’s incredible how many models have no support whatsoever and how long they take to release RAW updates to the ones they actually support.

    It’s true it’s not broken…but why use something when you have something a lot better? Apple needs to be serious about Aperture or it will eventually go under.

  20. This is why I migrated my entire photo library to Lightroom about 6 months ago and I’ll never go back. Lightroom is years ahead of Aperture in most things, and has most of the features I want, unlike Aperture.

    I found Aperture extremely slow. It would often never finish loading previews, so I would have to navigate away from the photo and back to it. It would quire regularly present me with a totally blank canvas after tweaking one little adjustment and fail to reload the image until I had rebooted my machine.

    It’s image tweaking is a little cumbersome and compared to Lightroom’s abilities to mask and spot edit, Aperture is severly behind.

  21. First let me state without question, Aperture is due for an update. No argument.

    However, as you stated, it’s not broken.

    WHY have “we” become so insistent on planned obsolescence? And WHY is it so admirable that Adobe plays “April fools” on everyone with their so-called public betas. I mean really… who cares? Did anyone ever stop to think this is a development ploy by Adobe to get “you guys” to fix this for us before we sell it to you?

    The update to Aperture will come. Once again it will lead in functionality with total disregard to “how many” people use it as long as the right (target) people use and it will remain the PRO application it was originally marketed as.

    I don’t give a darn about RAW updates for all the tiny point n’ shoots… I don’t give a darn about slide shows and web templates or even books…. I want speed, power and reliability. I want to get my work done and go spend time with my family.

    I’m confident Apple will get it right and I’m comfortable waiting.

    Envy is a silly thing.

  22. Marco M

    Personally, I’ve thought many times about switching. I love aperture’s interface but it’s such a shame that they haven’t updated it or at least giving us and idea of where they are going. I am loosing faith. If I don’t hear anything this January, I will most likely jump ships.

  23. Photo Enthusiast

    Here here. Apple has said nothing about updates. I have so many photos, I’m locked into Aperture, and feeling like I’ve been abandoned. Where’s the update?