Aperture and iPhoto discontinued

There is to be no Aperture 4, Apple has announced that it is stopping development of its professional photography app. Apple will also stop development of its consumer photo management and editing app, iPhoto, with both Aperture and iPhoto being replaced by Photos an OS X application, due to launch in 2015.

In this article we will look at Apple's statement about why it is ending development of its professional and consumer photo apps, we will ask what this means to Apple's professional users, not just photographers, but also those who use Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro, and we will look at alternatives to iPhoto and Aperture.

Apple's statement regarding Aperture & iPhoto

Apple's issued the following statement regarding killing Aperture and iPhoto: At the end of June Apple released a statement saying that: "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."

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What is Photos for Mac? 

Apple demoed Photos for Mac at WWDC at the beginning of June 2014. While little was given away in the presentation, this first look at Photos for Mac suggests that it will bring a number of iOS-like photo editing features to the Mac when it launches early in 2015. Apple's Craig Federighi demonstrated the use of similar colour and light adjustment meters that are similar to those in the iOS version of iPhoto.

Photos for Mac will also integrate with iCloud with new library sharing features that will work across devices and on the web. You will effectively be able to access your whole photo library wherever you are, for a cost. This iCloud Photo Library feature will replace the current iCloud Photo Streams, syncing your whole photo library and automatically keep the original high-resolution photos and videos in iCloud, or as much of your library as you have iCloud space available for. There will be a tiered payment system - you get 5GB of iCloud storage free, and other storage plans will start at $0.99 per month.

Despite these features, photographers are understandably concerned that the new Photos program will not meet their professional-level imaging needs. In its statement Apple claims that Photos for Mac will support pro features, including library search, support for third-party plugins, and advanced editing, but Apple is yet to demonstrate these features.

The image above from Apple's site gives some clues as to what to expect from Photos for Mac.

Does this mean Apple will stop making pro software?

Apple has reassured professional users that development of Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro will continue. However, now that we know that Aperture is dying, there will be concern amidst these pro communities that if Apple can choose to stop development of one professional app then it may decide to stop work on another app. Since professional users of Apple software are making an investment that affects their business, they may think twice about investing in Apple software if they feel the company takes lightly the development of its professional applications.

Apple will have its work cut out convincing people otherwise.

Unfortunately for Apple there is already a perception Apple doesn't care about professional Mac users. As we wrote back in April, despite the Mac Pro, "Apple's still ignoring Final Cut Pro and Aperture, and it's a mistake".

The reason for our concern, even before the announcement that Apple is to stop development of Aperture, was the long wait between weighty updates to Apple's pro software while Apple's competitors (namely Adobe) have significantly developed their offerings.

For example, since Apple launched Final Cut Pro X in June 2011 there have been three major updates to Adobe's video tools (four if you count CS 5.5 which launched a month before FCP X). In June 2014 Adobe announced Premiere Pro CC 2014, for example.

Apple's Final Cut Pro X has seen various updates in the same time, a major update - FCP X 10.1 – came in December 2013, and there was a 10.1.2 update at the end of June 2014. But users are still calling for more. Perhaps Apple's mistake is giving these updates away for free, which means there is no perception of 'new' software. Read our Final Cut Pro X 10.1 review here.

Apple's other pro app, Logic Pro, had quite a serious, powerhouse overhaul when it was updated in July 2013 to Logic Pro X. There were fears back in 2012 that Apple had 'decimated' its pro audio team but Apple denied these rumours at the time, and the development of Logic Pro X would suggest that Apple sees a future for that application.

Despite the fact that Apple has updated these pro apps, people are likely to draw parallels with Aperture 3, which launched more than four years ago in February 2010 but only saw minor updates while Adobe regularly updated its closest rival, Photoshop Lightroom a number of times.

There was hope that Apple would update Aperture to version 4, especially after Apple told us that we could expect to see updates to Aperture and Final Cut Pro around the time that the new Mac Pro launched in December 2013, and even showed photographers using the photography management software during the event that showcased the new professional Mac. However, the version 3.4.2 update that arrived in November 2013 was not enough to encourage Aperture users. A Facebook group calling for Aperture 4 to be released appeared, but sadly their appeal fell on deaf ears.

While Apple made no moves to update Aperture, Photoshop Lightroom was updated to back in April 2014, and rumours suggest Lightroom 6 will launch next year.

Read our Apple Logic Pro X vs GarageBand comparative review

Can I just continue to use Aperture and iPhoto?

Apple stated that it will not continue to develop its existing photo apps, but that doesn't necessarily mean it won't support Aperture and iPhoto in future versions of the operating system. However, we know that the new iCloud Photo Library feature, that syncs your whole library so it is available on all your devices, won't be supported in iPhoto or Aperture when it launches in 2015.

We imagine that iPhoto will remain on your Mac even after updating to Yosemite, unless Photos overwrites that application in an attempt to import your iPhoto library (we can't wait to see how Apple manages that one – with many Mac users having a decade worth of iPhotos on their Macs).  

For now, Aperture and iPhoto are still available on the Mac App Store, so it might be a good idea to purchase the software before it fades into obscurity. Aperture costs £54.99 while the latest version of iPhoto costs £10.49 if you don't own an older version (otherwise it's a free update).

The image above shows Apple's iCloud Photo Library.

What about iPhoto for iOS?

The Photo app currently on your iPhone or iPad will disappear and be replaced by the new Photos app. As for the iPhoto app, currently available from the iOS App Store, this currently costs £2.99, or is a free update. iOS users may be grateful to Apple for incorporating free image editing features into the Photos app, but anyone who's spent money on the soon to be redundant iPhoto app may be a little peed off.

What are the alternatives to Aperture and iPhoto?

If the new Photos for Mac app doesn't meet your photography needs there are a number of companies hoping to sell products to you.

Adobe has issued a statement highlighting their new Creative Cloud Photography plan, promising a "rich roadmap of rapid innovation for desktop, web and device workflows in the coming weeks, months and years", and claiming to be: "Committed to helping interested iPhoto and Aperture customers migrate to our rich solution across desktop, device and web workflows."

Coral was also quick to issue a statement, suggesting that users should switch to its new AfterShot Pro 2 software. Corel is offering Aperture users discounted pricing if they update.

Corel said: "The new AfterShot Pro 2 offers competitive upgrade pricing (£57.99) to Aperture users. We're getting ready for Yosemite now and unlike Lightroom, AfterShot Pro already supports use of a more Aperture-like file system to manage your photos. In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking for more ways we can make the transition easy for Aperture users and you can expect to see more from us with AfterShot on the Mac in the near future."

Read our Alternatives to Aperture feature and our Alternatives to iPhoto feature for more ideas of software you could switch to.

Also read: iPhoto versus Photoshop Elements comparison review

History of Aperture

When Apple introduced Aperture in 2005, it billed Aperture as "the first all-in-one post production tool for photographers". Aperture is a professional photography app offering support for very high resolution Retina displays and handling RAW image processing. It is also an efficient organizer for people with massive photo libraries.

Aperture provides various image adjustment tools, ranging from basics such as exposure and white balance to more exotic options such as colour monochrome and spot and patch.

A key difference between iPhoto and Aperture is the fact that there are a number of plug-ins – small, modular programs that you can use to add new features – available in Aperture. One wonders what will happen to these plug-in manufacturers.

History of iPhoto

iPhoto first appeared in 2002. The consumer photo-editing app comes free with every new Mac, and there is even a version you can use on the iPhone and iPad. iPhoto can import, organise, edit, print and share digital photos. It also features some image adjustment tools so users can fine-tune the appearance of photos, such as adjusting the exposure or contrast of a photo, but these are not as advanced as those in Aperture.

The Effects tools in iPhoto are also more limited than those in Aperture, consisting of simple colour adjustments and old standbys such as sepia and black-and-white effects.

A key difference between the two apps is that iPhoto makes global adjustments that are applied to the entire photo, whereas Aperture allows you to use brushes to selectively apply effects to specific parts of an image.

However, there's a lot that's in Aperture that's also in iPhoto such as the Places feature that uses Apple maps to display photo locations, and Faces, which makes it easy to sort your photos by the people who appear in them.

We compare Aperture and iPhoto here.

Read: iPhoto and Preview tips for free photo editing on a Mac