Like pretty much everybody else that uses Apple's Aperture, I've been waiting and hoping for the release of Aperture 4 for way too long.
Unlike most of the Internet though, I don't think Apple has abandoned it. In fact, I feel pretty confident we'll see Aperture 4 (or X or Pro X or whatever) sometime in the next few months. Of course, this is just speculation on my part. I have zero inside knowledge. However, there are a few things that hint at Aperture still being alive: Apple features Aperture in their website and advertising, they have been hiring people for the Aperture team, and of course there are the book leaks.
Most importantly though, I think Aperture 4 is around the corner because I believe a few pieces needed to fall into place before they could release a new version. Some are done and some are not here yet, but close:
- iCloud and Photo Streams - These are key for the next version of Aperture and I don't think they're finished. They need to add back some of the features of MobileMe Gallery and figure out how to support video. They also need to sort out how keywords are treated in Photo Streams.
- Unified iPhoto & Aperture Library - This not only provides a seamless upgrade path for iPhoto users, but makes it much easier to build new features and integration across the OS off a common base.
- New Mac Pro - A key Mac to promote and use Aperture.
- Retina iMac and Displays - Or at least 4k. It looks like this is coming soon.
- Powerful iPad and iPhone - I believe Aperture 4 will come with a companion iOS version and the previous gen iOS devices weren't powerful enough. iOS 7 being 64 bit might have something to do with this as well.
Again, I don't know, but I sure hope I'm right.
On the other hand, if I think about it, I don't really need and Aperture 4. Yes, there are a lot of things I'd like to see improved and a few features I'd like added, but non of them are a deal breaker.
Aperture does most of what I need and it does it well. It's still a pleasure to use and I like the fact that I haven't had to relearn new things or pay for upgrades.
The photographer in me is perfectly content with Aperture, but the geek in me wants a shiny new version. Now.
My Aperture 4 Wish List
Over the years I've kept a list of things I'd like to see in Aperture 4. Some are features, some are improvements, some are changes in the way things currently work.
In no particular order, here's my wish list for Aperture 4:
- Fix Keywords: The way keywords work in Aperture is seriously infuriating. It's a long topic for another post, but if you use Aperture you know what I mean. (BTW, here's how to batch remove a keyword).
- Pixelmator Compatibility: Aperture cannot read Pixelmator files (pxm) so there's no way to roundtrip a photograph.
- Ability to assign multiple external editors with different settings.
- Ability to assign export format for each plugin independently: onOne is happy with PSD files, but with the Nik plugins, some can't work with PSD so you need to use TIFFs. The problem is that Aperture will send files to plugins in whatever filetype you've chosen for the external editor, so you need to go back and forth.
- Non-destructive plugins: Something like Smart Filters in Photoshop would be great.
- Project and Image level restore from Vaults: At the moment it's an all or nothing backup.
- Grouping and naming of adjustments bricks: I'd like to be able to give names to the bricks. Once you have 3 curves you need to open each and look at them to remember what exactly they're doing.
- Ability to save masks and copy across different bricks: Scott Davenport has a script for that, it's called Aperture Adjustment Brush Mask Lift & Stamp AppleScript. That's awesome, but this should just be built in.
- Ability to save groups of adjustments as brushes: Imagine you did multiple adjustments to the sky in a photograph and brushed them all in. Wouldn't it be great to save that as a brush so you could just paint in once to another photograph and apply all adjustments at once?
- Save custom crop sizes: It's incredible that you can't to this. Every single time I have to type in the dimensions for a custom size that I use regularly.
- Brush flow and pressure sensitivity with Wacom tablets
- Output sharpening: Sometimes you need a little more sharpening than you can get out of Edge Sharpen.
- Lens corrections: Adobe really cracked this one and I'd be happy with a similar implementation. Just make it automatic depending on the camera/lens. GoPro lens correction would be awesome. At least add manual perspective correction.
- Noise reduction: Again, Adobe cracked it. Just copy them.
- Sync settings across computers with iCloud: It's really annoying when a keyboard shortcut doesn't work because it's a custom one you created on one Mac and not in the other one.
- Integration with other services: Forget about Flickr (the new version is horrible), give me 500px. And Squarespace somehow.
- Stitching for panoramas: If the iPhone can do it, why can't Aperture?
- HDR: I don't want to have to use an external plugin for this.
- Graduated filters: Another one that Lightroom does great.
- Film grain emulation: For those of us that like grain so we don't have to rely on plugins or hack it (like my Grain Preset).
- Adjustment History
- Ability to add borders on export
- Watermarks that don't require Photoshop or using a bunch of applications.
- Larger previews for effects (presets): If you have a big screen, there's no reason to have such a tiny preview.
- Blending Modes
- Content Aware Fill: I've never really had the need for this, but it could be useful.
- Nik's u-point technology or something similar: Most of the time this would work better and faster than brushing. It's genius.
- Camera Profiles
- Aperture for iPad: Ideally, I'd like to move entire projects to the iPad to work on while away from my main computer and have them sync seamlessly back to the main library. At the very least, I'd like to be able to do editing on the road (ratings, keywords, flags, labels, albums, etc.) and creating and adding to Photo Streams.
That's my wish list for Aperture 4. I'm not sure these warrant a new version though. Many seem to me like incremental improvements and Apple has added new features in point updates. Still, this is what I hope for the new version.
Did I miss anything?