Not much activity the last week. My time was shared between family, job exploration and some testing. New images will come in the next days but for now a bit of geek fantasy…
Amongst the things I have tested is the Gold Master of the new OS X Mavericks distributed by Apple to its developers (Gold Master is the last test version, generally it is the same as the public version issued shortly after). For a photography blog entry I won’t dwell into technical details – especially as I am subject to the Apple NDA – but all I can say is that I’m very impressed. There are only limited visual improvements, though some are quite nice, but rather under the hood changes. Chief amongst them, and that will please all laptop users, is the energy optimisation and improved battery life on a single charge. I cannot quantify by how much it has improved, and I suspect it depends on too many factors to measure it well, but it seems significant.
As Apple is likely preparing to launch publicly a bunch of new products including OS X Mavericks, especially a new iPad and the new Mac Pro, tech pundits and tech blogs are pondering the plausibility of rumours and wondering what exactly Apple will launch. Only the future will tell and it’s likely to be a short wait.
To me, the launch of OS X Mavericks and a new Mac Pro makes more likely that Aperture is updated as well and hopefully launched at the same time or shortly after. Of course, it makes me wonder what could be expected.
Over the last 2 years, Apple has refreshed 2 of its 3 pro creative apps: Final Cut Pro X in 2011 and Logic Pro X last summer. It’s only logical to expect Aperture, which version 3 was launched in early 2010, to be refreshed and dubbed Aperture Pro X in line with the other pro apps.
I think that Aperture Pro X will bring only minimal visual changes to the current interface, it’s already great, except making it darker in line with the other pro apps, it might also make better use of multi display setups. We might also get better social network integration (though I’m not keen and here is why) which will give Apple’s marketing team some additional headline…
For editing functionalities, I hope that Apple will introduce the concept of layers and masking as well as selection tools, eventually improving on some functions such as image retouching and noise reduction. A dream would be that Apple comes up with something equivalent to the content aware fill of photoshop.
A big thing that could come with a new version of Aperture would be a better integration with iOS devices. Think about a tethering mode where Aperture controls your camera and you wirelessly control Aperture with your iPhone. Imagine being able to create your virtual press book on Aperture and show it off on your retina iPad?
However I expect more forward looking changes under the hood, the usual performance boost for both storage and higher use of multicore and GPU for image processing, but especially a better platform for Apple and third party developers to enhance Aperture with plugins and companions apps, similar to what Logic Pro and Final Cut have offered. I would even not complain — too much — if at first we lose some hard coded features of the current Aperture to gain the ability to work with multiple external editors, even with the ability to pass on a copy of the RAW file rather than the developed TIF, and that, assuming that layers are coming, the result of plugins or external editors are returned on their individual layers on top of the initial image. That would give the ability to Apple and other developers to come up with more refined and evolutive functionalities such as geometric and lens corrections.
This could disappoint those expecting the new version of Aperture to simply mimic what Adobe added to Lightroom in the last two iterations, but it would transform what is a great pro apps into a greater pro platform. It might take some more time for Nik Collection, DxO Optics and why not even Adobe’s very own Camera Raw to adjust their plugin products for a new paradigm but it would be a low price to pay to use the best photo editing on the market.