With Leopard, what's really the next, next thing for Aperture?

by Dominique James

Now that Leopard, the new cat from Cupertino, is out, what's the next, next thing for Aperture?

Well, quickly following its feline footstep is a new version of Aperture. Aperture is now version 1.5.6. According to the Apple website, this downloadable 130 MB update which has been released today, addresses issues related to performance, improves overall stability, and supports compatibility with Mac OS X v10.5. And that means, Leopard.

Actually, an Aperture update is long overdue. Photographers who have been using Aperture, as is in-step with its development phases, can actually somehow feel if an update is in the offing.

Here's a speculation of one photographer prior to the announcement of the Aperture v1.5.6 update:

I can almost smell it in the air. And it smells ripe. A new version of Aperture may be inevitable. Soon. Very soon. Of course, I am speculating. Wildly at that. There may be nothing to any of these. And I hope you will forgive me. Partly, I'm excited (of which I may be attaching too much importance, credit or relevance) at two of the most recent events in the industry, the recently-concluded Photo+Plus in New York City, and the official release of Apple's most-advanced operating system for the Mac, the Leopard.

Leopard's amazing desktop and interface style is the new framework for Aperture.

Like me, were you not half-hoping, half-wishing and half-expecting that a new version of Aperture will be launched at the recently concluded PDN's Photo+Plus in New York? And were you not also half-hoping, half-wishing and half-expecting that a new version of Aperture, or at least, even a "compatibility" update, will come your way in light of Leopard's official release?

Well, it did happen. And now, we explore.

The last time there was some sort of an update that somehow involved Aperture (but maybe only in a minor sort of way) was when Apple released the Pro Application Support 4.0.2 in September 6, 2007, an update that addresses issues with keyboard interface reliability for Apple's professional applications. This was after the freeware "Aperture to Final Cut Pro 1.0" was introduced in April 9, 2007, that allows users to create FCP sequences straight from within Aperture.

And the last, last time something really major that happened to Aperture was more than 8 months ago, last Feburary 22, 2007, when Aperture became version 1.5.2. According to the Apple website, this version "sets the standard for professional photo management applications" and it works and manage photos of any type such as JPEG, TIFF, PSD, PDF, including a lot of the proprietary RAW. It was a whooping 136 MB upgrade.

Since Aperture's introduction, not including the numerous professional applications and operating system supports, here's what, historically, has happened so far:

  • December 23, 2005 - Aperture 1.0.1 Update: Addresses a number of issues related to reliability and performance. (11.4 MB)
  • April 13, 2006 - Aperture 1.1 Update: Delivers new feature enhancements and addresses issues related to overall reliability, performance, and compatibility. (35 MB)
  • May 04, 2006 - Aperture 1.1.1 Update: This update addresses several issues related to performance, stability, color correction, and display compatibility, and is recommended for all Aperture users. (13.6 MB)
  • June 21, 2006 - Aperture 1.1.2 Update: Addresses issues related to overall reliability and performance. This update is recommended for all Aperture users. (13.6 MB)
  • November 02, 2006 - Aperture 1.5.1 Update: Addresses numerous issues related to overall reliability and performance in all areas of the application. (125 MB)
  • December 11, 2006 - Aperture 1.5.2 Update: Addresses issues related to overall reliability and performance. (131 MB)
  • February 22, 2007 - Aperture 1.5.2: Sets the standard for professional photo management applications. Work with and manage photos of any type. RAW, JPEG, or TIFF. (136 MB)
  • October 26, 2007 - Aperture 1.5.6 Update: Addresses issues related to performance, improves overall stability, and supports compatibility with Mac OS X v.10.5. This update is recommended for all Aperture users. (130 MB)

Throughout its developmental iteration, a number of 3rd-party developers eagerly took advantage of Aperture's extensibility by creating their own mostly free API plug-ins. Companies such as GettyImages, DigitalFusion, Digital Railroad, ExpressDigital, Flickr, iStockphoto, PhotoShelter, Pictage, SoundSlide, GlobalEdit, among others, has offered plug-ins that allow photographer to interact with their preferred services directly from Aperture. Likewise, developers from Apple and outside Apple developed all sorts of surprisingly useful, practical and functional free AppleScript and Automator actions that further refined and enhanced the usability and functionality of Aperture. Expectedly, more plug-ins and actions are being developed.

To check out and download the latest official updates, new 3rd-party plug-ins, action scripts and support for Aperture, visit and bookmark this download page.


Dan Donovan
2007-10-27 08:35:02
An incremental upgrade like 1.5.6 is fine, but I think users can't wait for a version 2.0 product!
Mihalis Tsoukalos
2007-10-27 08:53:47
I hope that the next version of Aperture will offer a speed update...
random bob, a.r.c.
2007-10-27 09:13:26
for me, I'm saving for the big kahuna of upgrades: I'm waiting for leopard when I get my new laptop, probably a 17" MBP, and I"m waiting on that until the next revision (at least), and then I'll be getting a new camera (trying to talk myself into a 40D, even though I could probably get away with less) and lenses! Good ones this time!

Aperture 2.0 would round that out quite nicely, yes I agree Mr. Donovan.

If only I had kids. Because I might need to sell one or two in order to afford it all.

2007-10-27 09:50:50
I think they should reward the current users patience and dedication to the program and called the next awe inspiring release ver 1.7.

I for one would be upset if I had to PAY for a 2.0 upgrade to get it to work as it should NOW

Thomas Fitzgerald
2007-10-27 11:52:09
It is starting to seem a bit old, especially given all the improvements Adobe keep making to Lightroom. The delay in supporting newer cameras is discracefull too. Unless I'm mistaken, and please tell me I am, but there's still no support for the Canon 40d, even in Leopard. I want Aperture to succeed, but lately it feels like Apple has just lost interest. I know they've lots of other things to do, but they could at least release an updated camera support patch.
Scott Fairbairn
2007-10-27 15:13:55
I agree that Aperture is starting to get long in the tooth. We really need some improvements here. Specifically, the spot/patch tool needs to be revamped badly, some kind of layers or lightzone like feature is needed so that we can do selective adjustments instead of global ones. Sharpen could use a facelift as well. I love the program, but it needs some more work to really challenge Adobe's stranglehold.
Arne de Laat
2007-10-27 17:47:10
"I hope that the next version of Aperture will offer a speed update..."

note that one of the most common word used in the descriptions of the updates has been 'performance'... not that that means that it really gave us the performance we want.. but its kinda odd...

Dominique James
2007-10-27 19:55:31
Photographers are not shy when it comes to asking for what they want. Make that when demanding for what they want in a software. And rightly so, if I may add. That's really a cool thing, actually. In the first place, we can't expect anything less from Apple. Keep your "wish list" coming for version 1.x.x or 2.0 to let Cupertino know. Thanks for all your feedback.
random bob, a.r.c.
2007-10-28 09:12:07
Right now I find small things bug me. Things like the UI not being very forthright in what is selected and what is not. The buttons along the bottom, for instance, can be hard to tell whether they're "pressed" or not (primary only, master image, etc). It should be quickly apparent whether an icon is activated or not, at a glance, without concentrating on that spot.

The other thing, and I've eluded to it before, is that I think they're wrong not allowing some sort of "modal" approach. I think LR goes overboard with it, but I'm willing to bet that most users have one screen, and they don't browse the library in the same UI setup that they do their in-depth edits. I myself will hide the main viewer when browsing the library, then to make edits i give screen priority to the edited image. I make the browser as small as possible (well, as small as necessary to get the edited to fill the window w/o leftover space). I then use the floating HUD adjustment panel and float it over the browser so that it's not covering the image I'm trying to edit.

yes I'm aware of the UI-centric adjustments panel, but then the image becomes too small to edit critically. and Aperture offers no way to allow the user to HIDE the browser. I do like that LR hides the browser for you (as an option) when in edit mode. I don't need to see other photos when I'm editing this one photo; I need to see this one photo clearly!

So, in that vein, I'd like to see two things UI-related:

1) The option to hide (option to show by mouse-over preferred, similar to LR) the browser so that i can give screen priority to the edited image.

2) Something to allow user-defined UI presets, so I can get from MY edit 'mode' to MY browse 'mode,' and everyone else can do the same for their specifically-designed workflow. That's the problem with LR's implementation - they lock you into their hardline setup; We need something in the middle of the two ways of thought.

random bob, a.r.c.
2007-10-28 09:28:50
and another thing I'd love to see:

LR's way of handling the histogram rocks. And their "levels" tool, while limited to luminance only, allowing Aperture to be more adjustment-option oriented by allowing edits to luminance and/or individual colors, does make more sense visually. You can understand what the adjustments are doing a little faster/easier in LR than in Aperture.

I'd love to see an overhaul of the Levels tool and the histogram as well. And I'd love more/better feedback as to what part of the histogram it's going to affect, a la LR.

And one more: While not a deal-breaker, the ability to 'grab' a part of the image and adjust the curves for that selected color/luminance section is pretty awesome. That way, if you're trying bring a color down in luminance or saturation or something and it's not a primary color, you don't have to fiddle with 2-3 different color gamuts; simply grab the color you want, and drag up/down to do as you please, letting LR/Aperture 2.0 adjust the primaries to suit.

that is all.

Edmund Fladung
2007-10-28 10:18:24
yes, i love giving my 2 cents as well. so here's goes:

- priority #1. code rewrites. Aperture needs serious speed improvements. i don't feign to know what good structured code looks like, but I'd bet a million bucks that Aperture's code is a mess.

- a full API: Apple needs to give 3rd party developers the chance to add extensible functionality to Aperture, beyond export plugins. Where's Dx0, noise ninja, x-processing filters, vignetting etc...? In fact, this may be the #1 priority. without it, there really is no developer community around Aperture. 3rd party developers are key to product promotion.

- Finesse: The whole user experience got a 'finesse massage' in Leopard. Apple went back and fixed a million little things that fall far below the 300+ new features. let's hope they do the same for Aperture 2.0.

I can't wait to see what the Aperture team come up with for the next release. If Leopard is any indication, Aperture 2.0 is gonna be amazing. I definitely feel it in the air, a large update is coming. 2 years in between versions is a looong time. I'm sure the delay was iphone/Leopard related. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Aperture 2.0 is Leopard only.