Aperture, and the future of photo editing on Apple devices

Jun 27, 2014

Today, Apple announced that it is retiring its professional photo editing application called Aperture. I never used Aperture personally, since professional photography is not one of my main interests, but as a casual photographer, I've used iPhoto for many years, although not as much as I could have. This consumer-oriented application is also going the way of the Dodo bird, to be replaced by a brand new application being developed for OS X Yosemite called Photos. With a name mirroring the long-standing iOS application for managing photos, it's clear why Apple is doing this — to create a very sharp focus for its applications across platforms, but also across target markets (consumers vs. professional).

Because I understand Apple's approach to solution development doesn't mean that I agree with every decision that they make. They always try to have a laser-sharp focus, and keep their product lines really simple, giving customers 2 or 3 choices for any given product or solution... no more and no less. These choices take the form of different configurations of the same device (eg. more storage space, more memory, larger screen), or is based on features and functionality, as in their consumer vs. professional options.

With the merging of a consumer application and a professional application together into just one application, they are no longer providing that choice betweenn two of their own options. Instead, it achieves the opposite - forcing consumers to choose between an Apple solution or a third-party solution. In the case of photography, there's some big names, such as Adobe, yet Adobe has a terrible track record of creating elegant, performant Mac software, at least in the last 15 years. As one example, even though they are the primary vendor of PDF solutions around the world, Adobe's own PDF software is slow and bloated, offering a subpar experience in working with PDF documents, even on modern Macs. It's a real shame.

I can only hope that Apple sees what they are doing and builds a high-class Photos application that blends simplity with high performance, while offering professionals access to the features and functionality that they need. It's going to be an uphill battle to position an "application for everyone" as a good solution for either market — consumer and professional. That was always the advantage of having separate applications. Now there's no differentiation, at least not a clear one.


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