back to article Apple abruptly axes Aperture ... Adobe anxiously awaits arrivals

Apple is reportedly ending development of its Aperture photo-tweaking software. The iThing maker said on Friday, via The Loop, that it will be ending development of Aperture and, starting next year, migrating users to its Photos application. Designed as a pro counterpart for iPhoto, Aperture was introduced in 2005. The …


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  1. CmdrX3

    No real surprise

    I think most people have been expecting that for quite a while and even more so after WWDC. I can't say I'm a huge fan of it, personally I prefer Lightroom which left Aperture behind quite a while ago and it's only getting better. I'm sure though there's many out there who are happy enough to continue using it as it is as it suits their purposes, but as new cameras come out it's unlikely they'll get any love from Apple.

    1. ThomH

      Re: No real surprise

      That's not really how it works under OS X — RAW image decoding is a service the OS provides, just as it can open PNGs, JPGs, etc. As long as Apple provides any photography application at all they'll keep updating the RAW support.

      That said, it took something like a year to get support for my non-Bayer X-Pro1, which is 'semi-pro' at best, so I can't completely endorse Apple's approach.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No real surprise

        No professional photo application uses the OS libraries to decode image files, especially RAWs, which require a fair deal of processing to display a "human readable" image. Adobe Lightroom and Camera RAW use their finely tuned Adobe RAW engine, and you can also tune it creating a profile for your specific camera(s).

        Apple will keep on updating its own RAW support because it will be still needed even for simple task like displaying previews and manage collections, but Lightroom and Camera RAW never depended on it nor will, and usually Adobe is much faster to add support for latest camera (and lenses), if you need it.

        1. ThomH

          Re: No real surprise @LDS

          There's no reason those programs couldn't use the built-in support other than that Adobe rarely uses OS-native anything. I guess they'd argue cross-platform consistency. They managed to support the Fuji non-Bayer filter a lot more quickly than Apple so it's not necessarily a bad thing. A bit more bloat, arguably, but creating a more competitive market.

          But all I meant was that, relevantly to the original poster: (i) Aperture uses it, so it will continue to support new cameras for as long as it remains compatible with the OS; and (ii) any future photography app from Apple will use it, so it'll continue to be updated.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No real surprise @LDS

            There's a technical reason. RAW files encode information in a very sensor-specific way. The quality of a final image strongly depends on how good the processing application is at processing the RAW file and turn it into an RGB image. Also, it depends on what color space the images are turned into, and the quality of the color processing engine.

            If you have the skills to design, implement, improve and maintain your RAW processing technology, and make it better than competitors you have a great advantage, especially among professionals - which also needs to be able to make their custom profiles if they need so.

            Cross platform consistency is a bonus features of it, but not the main reason for designing their own RAW processing engine.

            I would never rely on OS RAW processing for photo - if nothing - the software supplied with the cameras (i.e. Canon DPP) is better at handling its own format than the OS. And often their RAW processing engines are available in their SDKs.

            1. ThomH

              Re: No real surprise @LDS

              There's no technical reason. Apple's RAW API provides the raw sensor information if you want it. It will demosaic only if asked.

              Only if you were falsely to assume that it returns RGB pixels would you think there was a problem. That's not the case, I don't believe that's the case and I didn't state or imply that was the case.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: No real surprise @LDS

                It looks you have no clue about RAW processing. RAW sensor information are in the RAW file itself, so no surprise Apple RAW API can provide it - it just need to read a section of the file as long as it knows where to find them.

                What you need is take this information, apply all the required transformations taking into account sensor specific behaviours you measured, other metadata stored in the RAW file, and turn them into RGB - or whatever representations your software use internally (Lightroom uses one based on ProPhoto RGB) - you can display and manipulate on a computer screen - and it's more than demosaicing only, which is only a step of the process.

                It's this processing you're interested in. And as long as you know where to find those data inside the RAW file, you have no use of OS APIs to get them - which could also limit what you can read from a RAW file - and someone like Adobe can't really wait for the OS to implement this or that If a new RAW file format is available from an important vendor for an important product.

                And the last thing you want is have those data processed outside your software in ways you can't control, or introduce changes which impact on your software. What you do is bypass any layer between you and the real data. I guess the only OS API Lightroom use is the basic file API to open a file and read bytes from it.

                You may be also surprised Lightroom also uses its Adobe Color Engine, and not the OS one...

                1. ThomH

                  Re: No real surprise @LDS

                  On the contrary, it looks like you've assumed I don't have a clue and are therefore suffering confirmation bias whenever you read my comments. Try to be less prejudiced.

                  The specific issue being discussed is whether "as new cameras come out it's unlikely they'll get any love from Apple". i.e. if Apple never writes another line of code for Aperture, will it be able to import RAW images from newer cameras?

                  There's little industry consensus. The sensors companies use are almost entirely orthogonal to the file formats they use. You can find the same sensor in cameras from three different companies but to deal with processing the results, you'll have to handle three different RAW file formats. Manufacturers are also very inconsistent, constantly changing formats seemingly arbitrarily. That's why there's already something like 150 of them.

                  99.99% of them, across the entire range of cameras, utilise Bayer RGGB filters. That will likely be true for a long time to come. It's not great for entropy but there it is.

                  So actually the thing that would likely determine whether Aperture keeps working is exactly _whether it can get the sensor information from the files_. I'm saying: it will keep working because the stuff of getting the raw sensor information from the files isn't built into Aperture. It's built into the OS.

                  I guess a rough analogue is dealing with printers back in the 1980s.

                  Everyone here is fully aware that there's complicated, often proprietary mathematics behind getting to a vanilla RGB from raw sensor information, that companies like Adobe have spent a lot on doing that really well and have accumulated a lot of value in doing so.

                  That's a completely unrelated issue.

                2. TaabuTheCat

                  Re: No real surprise @LDS

                  Thom is way to modest to post a link to his own site, but if you think he's uninformed I'd recommend you go to and look around. He has an interesting take on Apple's Aperture announcement, and it isn't "the sky is falling".

  2. David Kelly 2

    Not Buying Aperture

    A year or so ago I thought I'd like to have Aperture but with Apple's all-or-nothing upgrade policy I knew it would be foolish to buy 3.x because as soon as I did 4.0 would be released and my 3.x worth nothing toward the newer version. I was right.

    iPhoto (or whatever its replacement) needs better management of its library or libraries. Its sad when what once would have been thought of as an infinitely fast computer takes significant time to open a library of a few thousand photos.

    Can't bring myself to purchase an Adobe product based on great user experiences (not) with Acrobat Reader and FLASH.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not Buying Aperture

      Can't bring myself to purchase an Adobe product based on great user experiences

      There's a lot more wrong with Adobe:

      - unclear licenses (seriously aimed at coaxing users into tl:dr agreements)

      - brutally crappy code (judging by how resource hungry it is and how often it's updated)

      - dodgy upgrade processes (I seriously dislike an application trying to coax me to let upgrades happen automatically every f*cking time there is an upgrade, and I hate even more downloading an application which then downloads the real application because it denies me decent virus checking)

      And then there is the price, of course. The above adds to that in management overhead and risk, so in the work areas which require high grade security we simply have a ban on anything made by Adobe, and a mandatory risk and use case evaluation for their products prior to purchase anywhere else. I know that some companies depend on them, but I'm glad we have alternatives and I plan to keep it that way (I was going to add "until they change", but they are way too big now to listen to anything like user feedback).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not Buying Aperture

        What products are you talking about? Flash? It's not Lightroom nor Photoshop - these has far different update policies (after all you pay for them, they are not free software...)

        BTW you can silence Flash and Reader update messages if you like - and upgrade downloading software from Adobe directly (that's how real sysadmin dispatch Adobe updates in their networks...)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not Buying Aperture

      There's a reason if Lightroom became so successful. It's not Flash nor Reader, It's a well designed powerful application for photo management and editing. It's still available outside the Adobe Cloud and costs no more than Aperture. It's only issue it's it asks to install QuickTime for videos.

      I could never bring myself to purchase an Apple product based on my user experience with QuickTime... <G>.

  3. ratfox

    I don't get it

    I thought Aperture was a successful product. Why are they axing it? Isn't Apple's general strategy to offer quality software to get people to buy its hardware?

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: I don't get it

      There's no way to know if it was successful. We don't know what metrics they use to quantify success and besides, Apple doesn't break financials down far enough to evaluate success even if we knew the criteria.

      It's fairly rare for scuttled tech products to have the reasons for their scuttling explained. For one you simply don't have to explain unless you pull an Apotheker and tell the world your computer company is going to stop making computers.

      Beyond that you get into the insane world of publicly traded corporate accounting where red and black ink are more of a peyote color. Dipshits will tell you all companies care about is making money, but that's just plain wrong. How monies are created, booked and compare with your other revenue streams in relation to your current financial strategy determine if a product/revenue stream is worth keeping. It's entirely possible to scuttle a highly profitable product and increase your share price just like it's entirely possible to throw tons of money at an absolute loser of a product and increase share price.

      But it's all just conjecture. A company doesn't have to explain why they do much of anything. '(Product) was not a good fit with our current strategy' is more than sufficient to satisfy regulatory requirements (assuming you're not talking about primary offerings). So it's unlikely we'll ever actually know the details of why the product was scuttled.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't get it

      Because they want *your* photos in *their* cloud. There's a lot of data you can extract from them, from EXIF/IPTC data (especially now more and more photo have also geolocation data) to directly processing the image.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't get it

      I could never get Microsoft ending development of its Flight Simulator series, which apparently did turn a profit, and closing down the studio. Then kind of half changing their minds six months later and announcing a lavishly appointed (visually anyway) new sim that had "we want an app store" written all over it. Problem was the 'sim' bit largely ended at the visuals, and to anyone even passingly familiar with what makes the sim fraternity tick it was doomed before a line of code had been written; it duly went titsup less than a year later.

      So, close down successful, profitable product line and produce expensive to develop replacement that ticks none of the same boxes that made its predecessor successful. Since that, I've given up trying to make any sense of the 'why' when these announcements are made.

      I'm personally pissed off with myself for investing a good deal of time and effort into cataloguing over 150,000 images in Aperture over 3 versions; quite a bit of money down the pan, far more in wasted time. I prefer Aperture in use over Lightroom, but backing Apple for software in which you really, really want continuity was a stupid mistake. Apple do hardware, Adobe do software, and doubtless they view continuity and ongoing development from a strategically different angle. For all their myriad faults, the core Adobe applications I rely on, Photoshop & Illustrator, are recognisable as the ones I started out on 20 years ago.

  4. Mike Bell

    Aperture has four major things going for it.

    1. It works well and efficiently for many professional purposes

    2. It supports 3rd party plugins

    3. It's not Adobe software

    4. It's not Adobe software

    Apple recently trumpeted their forthcoming Photos application, which will doubtless thrill hordes of consumers with its ability to make non-destructive pretty edits. But it remains to be seen what, if any, pro features will be available, like camera RAW edits. Plugins of some form will be supported, but you can bet that there will be the same trouble ahead that happened when they brought their iWork applications down to a common base level with iOS and are slowly working features back in again.

    It's a shame, as I really quite like Aperture.

    Oh, and did I mention it's not made by Adobe?

    1. Cornholio

      Oh, and did I mention it's not made by Adobe?

      Neither is Optics Pro...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "3. It's not Adobe software

      4. It's not Adobe software"

      If's funny some Apple fanboys don't realize that without Adobe software Apple would have gone bankrupt far before being able to reach the iPad/iPhone.

      In the years when Windows took the PC desktop market and there were no other market to sell end-user devices, Apple survived only thanks to the graphic/media niche where Adobe software ruled. Think what have would happen if there wasn't no Photoshop & C. back then....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So, wait. You're not an Aperture user, or indeed an Apple user, so what is your beef? Adobe Shill? Windows fanboy? As to your "point", around about the same time, Adobe switched to "Windows first" development and when Apple released OS X, it took a long time for native apps from Adobe to appear. So, please, with a cherry, check your facile revisionism at the door.

  5. Andrew Hodgkinson

    So more crappy portware - or just move to Windows

    Apple's software slide into utter mediocrity continues. How depressing.

    I personally find all Adobe UIs I've ever used to be utterly horrible, but marginally less horrible on Windows since Windows doesn't have the same system-wide integration and toolkit approach of Cocoa on OS X. Your expectations as a user are thus much lower anyway. OS X seems to be as slow as molasses these days too (it all went horribly wrong at OS X Lion) and has at least as high a bug count as Windows now (again it all went horribly wrong at OS X Lion), so it just seems pointless to bother running it anymore, even if I'll miss Logic, text services and AppleScript support.

  6. Dunstan Vavasour


    I don't use OSX, I'm on Linux but there is an OSX installable of Darktable for those who prefer using Free (Libre) software. I tried Lightroom on windows but Darktable has all I need.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Darktable

      Looks interesting, thank you.

      I'm going to try it, also because it does NOT sport facial recognition. Personally I think it should be mandatory to make it possible to disable any facial recognition by reading in a picture of your middle finger. Picasa's facial recognition is a bit like Google outsourcing the analytical task a la SETI @ home IMHO and it's the main reason I stopped using it (me trusting Google is like asking a vegan to try a horse meat sandwich - not going to happen).

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Darktable

        You should patent your idea for 'Privacy Management by Middle Finger Gesture'. A good marketing campaign and reasonably priced licensing could see the gesture become the global symbol of privacy protection. If it went really well it could start appearing by the Verisign logo on millions of web pages and even those stupid 'this site uses cookies' popup. It would be hilarious!

      2. Chemist

        Re: Darktable

        "Looks interesting, thank you."

        I also use Darktable on Linux and I'm very impressed by it for RAW development. This using Canon 550D & 6D

  7. Nick De Plume

    classical Apple behaviour

    First it was Shake, then Final Cut Pro, now this.

    And since OSX is pretty lousy on backwards compatibility , old versions won't run in a couple of years.

  8. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    moving times?

    Yeah, Aperture wasn't very hot from day numero uno but the light n flighty iPhoto was a peach.

    I used Bridge to catalogue images, Photoshop to edit then a Photoshop script to export smaller images that were used to build iPhoto albums.

    The nice thing was that Bridge cataloguing (in the main) carried over into iPhoto and of course Mobile Me'd into sharing almost automatically.

    I was disappointed that Adobe Bridge and iPhoto worked and work better than Aperture and iPhoto - seemed and seems a shame innit.

    I was devastated when Mobile Me ceased to exist.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More cloud crap

    I really, really wish they would stop trying to ram this cloud storage crap down down my throat.

    In the cloud = not under my absolute control. No thanks, and I'll do my own backups, and I prefer to decide for myself if I want to share images with anyone, thank you.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: More cloud crap

      Cloud is the unfortunate, unavoidable future for most commercial software as long as corporate accounting works the way it does.

      Cloud offerings completely bypass 'incomplete product' regulations*. With traditional software (or anything really) if you promise specific features will be added in the future you can't book the sale until those features have been delivered. You could sell $100 Billion dollars worth of it and you can't show a single penny of that money on your books until the feature is delivered.

      As it stands now, if the software operates if run on a system that meets the minimum requirements specs then that's all you're entitled to. Free Updates, Service Packs, etc... are provided by the goodwill of the manufacturer or they can charge you for them if they want. With Cloud offerings you're paying for access, not a transfer of ownership, license or rental. As such, the Cloud offering remain the property of the provider and they can make all the open ended promises they like.

      The second part also relates to how revenue is booked and forecast. It's far more desirable to have 10 people paying $1 each, per month than to have two customers making $60 one time payments (adjust for scale :). People get hung up on product margins, but margins and profit are secondary to revenue. Profit gets you a nice view from your door, revenue gets you the land, building, door, food and water. You die without revenue, profits are not a requirement to making lots of money. Simplified, cloud financials break down to making revenue knee deep and a mile wide: It gives you more flexibility, more consistency and greatly reduces your expenses in everything from cost of operating capital borrowing, cost of sales to distribution, account maintenance, and marketing. Unless otherwise specified by country specific law, auto-renewing contracts (evergreen contracts) allow you to legally forecast revenues waaaay further out than with one time purchases.

      All that stuff is well and good, in and of itself. The trouble lies in the fact that cloud financials provide companies with overwhelming financial advantage over traditional sales models. After a point you can flat out gut product margins and still end up making more money than you did with 30x greater margins but more unstable revenue.

      A decent analogy is the 'asymmetric warfare' concept. Under current financial regulation there's simply no way for traditional software billing model to directly fight a cloud model. In the traditional model costs grow in direct proportion to sales (that levels off after volume reaches a certain size, but only 3-5% of software companies can reach that scale). With the cloud model sales lower costs and allow you to simultaneously lower prices and the math simply won't let the traditional model be competitive.

      Sorry this has gone on so long. The cloud model is going to force adherents of the traditional model to make some big adjustments and unfortunately all of them include privacy strangling tactics where sales of your information bridge the gap between the traditional and cloud financial models, but there's no escaping the fact the traditional model has a cost escalation curve that eventually makes it impossible for sales of your data to cover the company's expenses. All in all it's a fucking disaster waiting to happen. The costs of the traditional model will make its adherents ever more aggressive about pillaging your information because that's the only way they can stay in business. We haven't even begun to see how intrusive it can all get and regulators are guaranteed to walk restrictions back in efforts to keep those companies funded. It's not a maybe situation.

      There aren't any great answers, but a decent balancing maneuver would be international legal agreement of what defines 'Cloud'. Right now the term is nothing but marketing and companies are using vernacular assumption to affect bookkeeping and regulatory compliance. It's pretty much complete bullshit if adding 'Cloud' to a software title results in an installed application that's bigger than the fucking non-cloud version. Companies shouldn't be able to gain an overwhelming financial advantage because they add web based authentication to a product. It needs sorted and it needs sorted now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The problem with auto-renewing contracts is when they ignore cancellations

        "Unless otherwise specified by country specific law, auto-renewing contracts (evergreen contracts) allow you to legally forecast revenues waaaay further out than with one time purchases."

        It seems to have become the norm for telcos and ISPs alike that cancelling an auto-renewing contract doesn't stop the requests for payment.

        We need better consumer protection here.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: The problem with auto-renewing contracts is when they ignore cancellations

          I agree, evergreen contract regulation leaves a lot to be desired. There are some consumer protection mechanisms in place, but the lines between long standing contract regulation and contract regulation for the 'Information Economy' have been throughly blurred.

          In the US, if you've fulfilled the terms of a contract (of any kind), have no outstanding balance and not currently engaged in a payment dispute with the contract issuer then it's against the law for them to request additional payment related to that contract more than 30 days (longer in some States) after all elements of the contract have been fulfilled. If that's happening to you then you should write your States DA and/or approach a few lawyers about it. Companies that do crap like that count on you doing little more than yelling at a few Salesdroids and shooting off a couple of emails. It's good to tweak their noses sometimes.

  10. rob miller

    cloud crap with iOS integration no doubt

    Presumably this will solve the problem of having all sorts of metadata and album organisation manually done on iPads (thanks wifey) and then not being able to access that effort anywhere else on the system where the photos are available.

    I really only use Aperture for photo management so suppose I don't mind if they can make some improvements there, but the apparent plan for me to rent 150gigs on Apple's servers for the rest of my life to access the family photo archive is a total non-starter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: cloud crap with iOS integration no doubt

      For applications like Aperture, I really, really can't fathom the iOS bit. You'd have to be on a very bad masochism trip to want to attempt any useful photo management on a ipad screen, let alone an iphone - there's just too much detail you need to see clearly to sort images effectively. It might be ok for low volume consumer use, but thats about it.

  11. swschrad

    GIMP runs under OS/X, they say

    free-as-in-beer and real spiffy. I have it on my WinSlows box, and like it.

    1. smartypants

      Re: GIMP runs under OS/X, they say

      Every few years I read something like this and try gimp again, hoping it's changed radically. Hours I can never get back!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: GIMP runs under OS/X, they say

      GIMP is Photoshop-like application. Aperture and Lightroom are a different kind of application - dedicated to the photo workflow.

    3. Gannettt

      Re: GIMP runs under OS/X, they say

      GIMP is fine on Windows, but on OS X it is a dog for some reason. shame, as it is a great (amateur phone editing tool.

      But as others have said, Aperture is different from Gimp.

  12. Mr F&*king Grumpy

    Since when is The Loop an official Apple PR channel ? How credible is this, anyway ?

  13. Haigha


    So they axed a product that wasn't part of their core business model any longer, a product they haven't been keeping up-to-date. I suspect Apple, at one point, saw Adobe's commitment to cross-platform support as a liability, wanting to try to lock customers in. They don't need that any longer - the Macbooks sell well, and ecosystem around the iPhone and iPad help keep customers.

    If you want RAW+editing and you want to avoid Adobe, there's always acdsee's products, or OnOne Software Suite and DxO's Optics Pro.

    Adobe's Creative Cloud for Photographers deal is actually pretty good. Getting Photoshop and Lightroom for an annual cost that doesn't much exceed the retail cost of Lightroom plus two updates to the less-capable Photoshop Elements (since PS Elements gets updated nearly once a year at this point) is a pretty good deal. Lightroom seems to get updated every 18 to 24 months.

    And I have to give Adobe some credit - getting the tablet version of LR included is a huge plus, and they're now moving to a setup where - to do adjustments that the tablet just can't handle like distortion correct - they upload the file to their cloud solution, process it and pull it back down again. They're going to charge a bit extra for that, or you can do that work on your own computer.

    Given that I have TIFF files (scans and edited photos) and my camera raw files, plus the fact that Lightroom puts a ton of data in sidecar files (as well as the database being SQLite, there's not much lock-in. I can move whenever Adobe no longer seems like a good deal for me.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dumb is the new high end?

    Seems to me Apple sacrifice the professionals so that fans get to big up all the basics easier.

    However, Adobe have worked well wooing Microsoft and Apple.

    Its maybe all part of a master plan?

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