Anticipating Aperture 4

People have been speculating about about the future of Apple Aperture, myself included, for quite a while now. Will we see Aperture 4 make an appearance after Apple’s announcements on Tuesday?

Possible Reasons  Why We Shouldn’t Expect Aperture 4 Soon

Aperture 4At the start of 2013, many people saw a book announcement for Aperture X on Amazon as a sign that a new version was forthcoming. Instead of calling the next version Aperture 4, they were convinced that Apple was going to blow us away with an all new version that jumped straight ahead to Aperture X.

I didn’t buy it. All this meant to me is that someone was trying to get a jump on the market for an Aperture book and the “X” was nothing more than a placeholder. As I noted in my post at the time, the last couple of major releases of Aperture happened in February. They didn’t happen right as a new version of Mac OS X hit the streets.

Why has it taken so long for a major Aperture update, anyway? One reason is because Steve Jobs was hesitant to continue with professional products. The rationale was that these products take a lot of resources and only benefit a small segment of buyers. It’s easy to see why that kind of logic made products like Aperture and the Mac Pro wait so long for a major refresh.

The other half of that story reveals that Steve reconsidered because professional users are also thought leaders who bring in business. We’ve already seen two major updates this year of other Apple professional products – Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro.

Even with those updates, Apple stirred up the mix a bit. Final Cut X seemed a bit dumbed-down to many professionals upon release. Was this a hybrid of consumerism and professional power, or just a bold mistake on Apple’s part? Will Aperture potentially follow the same path?

I doubt it. Final Cut Pro X met a horrible reception among professional users, some who were banned from Apple’s Support forum. Re-written from the ground up as a 64-bit application, Final Cut Pro X still omitted some very key features that video professionals demand. Those features made a come-back in subsequent free updates, though.

It’s hard to believe that the folks at Apple didn’t learn from this experience. It made me wonder if Aperture X was going to meet the same fate, and was then held-back for more development before release to avoid upsetting the professional photography market.

Possible Reasons Why We Should Expect Aperture 4 Soon

I had another post recently outlining reasons why I though that Aperture’s next major update may happen this fall.

Those reasons still stand.

  • Tim Cook’s commitment to professionals
  •  Steady free updates to Aperture 3
  • Aperture prominently featured in the Retina MacBook Pro advertisements
  • A completely revised Mac Pro
  • Phil Schiller’s comment that the new Final Cut Pro will take advantage of new features in the Mac Pro

In other words, I’m seeing commitments to the professional market and they’re coming out this fall as expected. I think it’s pretty clear that much of the drive behind the Mac Pro is for video professionals, I also see Aperture as a partner product for Final Cut Pro to organize video and audio resources.

Many photographers have always preferred the Mac Pro for its throughput, power and expandability. Clearly, that issue of expandability is changing with Thunderbolt instead of expansion cards.

I don’t believe that Apple creates its professional software because it wants to dominate the software market. Instead, I believe it creates that software to showcase its overall solution – hardware and software. If you’re invested in Aperture, Final Cut Pro or Logic Pro, then you aren’t running on Windows or Linux. You’re invested in the Apple solution. If they cede that market to Adobe’s products, which are cross-platform, then they are also ceding a larger part of their market.

A new version of Aperture brings the potential for greater integration with more Apple products – particularly with iOS. When I see wishlists from other Aperture users, the features they often mention are Lens Correction, better Noise Reduction and even layers to compete with Photoshop, at least to the extent that photographers use Photoshop features.

I don’t think that’s where Apple wants to go with Aperture. Instead, I’d expect to see greater integration with the iPad or iPhone in your photograph workflow. Synchronization of images is a given, but I’m also curious to see how Aperture may integrate with the iPad for tethering or remote camera operation – similar to how CamRanger works.

Another sign that makes me think an Aperture update is imminent, even if a minor update, is the recent change to the iPhoto database.  It’s a newer format that the current version of Aperture cannot open. At the very least, Aperture users should plan on some minor update to coincide with the release of OS X Mavericks.

Does The Date Matter?

Although the past two major updates happened in February, I’m not sure if that’s a key indicator for a future release. On one hand, Apple does like to release new versions of products during a given time of the year. Yet it’s changed those release dates when it made sense.

Whether we see a new version of Aperture in October, November or even February is not quite as important to me. I’m reasonably confident that something will arrive and I hope it has some interesting new features that I haven’t anticipated.


I watched Apple’s product announcement on Tuesday. There was a clear mention of an updated Aperture (and other Pro apps) during the segment featuring the new Mac Pro. It seems like my guess was somewhat correct – Apple re-wrote Aperture and a new version will arrive.

When?  Sometime between now and the end of  December, I presume. They mentioned the Mac Pro will ship in December and I expect all of the Pro Apps will be available by that time. There really wasn’t any detailed discussion of new features in Aperture, price or a ship date.


  1. Kevin Purcell says

    “Possible Reasons Why We Shouldn’t Expect Aperture 4 Soon”

    The main reason (after you wrote the article, of course) is Apple has released Aperture 3.5 today with a handful a “new features” (nothing related to post processing or UI changes).

    I’d expect 3.5.x for the next few (minor) releases for Mavericks fixes (and new Mac Pro compatibility). So don’t expect Aperture 4 until 2014 at the earliest. And in truth I’m thinking not until later in 2014 (if at all …) as we seem to have about a annual cycle for “point” updates.

  2. JeanLuc LaBarre says

    As a Mac user it pains me to be this negative but Apple didn’t appear to learn a thing from the FCPX debacle. Look what they just did with iWork…

    I use Aperture for keeping referenced jpegs (that I produce in Lightroom) in one neat place, and for my family pics. Putting shots/videos from four iPhones and my DSLR in one folder is nice. That’s is however.
    Lightroom has lost Aperture in its rear view mirror, and it’s highly unlikely that Apple has any interest in catching up. I can *guarantee* Adobe is working on Lightroom 6 right now, whereas the only thing I can be certain of with Apple is that they’re hard at work on the next iPhone.

    Look closer at the Performance page of the new Mac Pro:
    Aperture: Import Content to Library 1.9x Export 16-bit TIFF 1.5x
    Unlike the clear and dramatic speed bumps in apps like Mari and Final Cut, Aperture’s stats are for IO only. 9to5Mac interviewed photographer Lucas Gilman, one of the pros Apple lent a Mac Pro to. He also only mentions IO speed specifically. This is NOT encouraging.

    We’re hanging on little updates and ad screenshots to give us hope, but if we’re honest the probability of Aperture 4 coming this year is zero. In fact, I’ll go further, if Apple gives Aperture a ‘FCPXing’ I’m not sure I’ll even want it.

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