Apple Aperture 4 wishlist (in expectation of WWDC)

WWDC starts in a few hours and I'm sure Apple will show us plenty of cool things. One of which I hope will be Apple Aperture 4, a new version of my favourite photography application.

It's highly unlikely, but there's no harm in speculating.

As it always happens this deep in Aperture's development cycle, there's a lot of noise online. Many say Apple has abandoned Aperture, some are threatening to jump ship (including one prominent writer/photographer), and others are hopeful we'll see a new version soon.

Apple being who they are, have kept quiet, so nobody knows for sure what's going on.

But there are a few signs that Aperture 4 is not dead and might actually be close, including rumours of an Aperture 4 book due out on July 4 and the recent job posting for the Aperture team at the Apple Jobs site. Additionally, Derrick Story makes some great points in his article about 5 things to consider regarding Aperture that suggest it's here to stay.

So, if Apple does surprise us with a brand new Aperture 4 at WWDC tomorrow, this is my wish list for what I'd like to see (in no particular order):

  1. Non-destructive plugins: Something like Smart Filters in Photoshop. It would be awesome Aperture 4 allowed me to stack multiple plugins that I can edit afterwards. For example, I often apply several Nik filters, and in Aperture they're destructive and save over each other. I end up using Photoshop as a filter container just to get them to apply as Smart Filters.

  2. Output sharpening: Amazing that sharpening in general is so bad in Aperture.

  3. Pixelmator compatibility: I've been using Pixelmator a lot lately and the files are not compatible with Aperture. You can't use Pixelmator as an external editor because Aperture won't export the native files (pxm), which are needed to maintain layers. I find this incredible given Apple themselves gave Pixelmator a design award. It's not like they've never heard of it. (And yes, I've sent Apple feedback about this)

  4. 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.

  5. Sync settings across computers (iCloud): I use Aperture in both a desktop and a MacBook Air and it's frustrating when they're not in sync. If I add something to the toolbar or change a setting on my Air, I want it to be the same on the desktop. Same with keywords, presets, label names, etc.

  6. Fix keywords: I'm not really sure how Apple could improve keywords in Aperture, but they need to do something. Keywords are frustrating as hell. The nested approach just doesn't work and keywords end up being a complete mess after a while. Little things like exporting a photo, then importing it back in sometimes create a duplicate keyword outside of the nest.

  7. Save custom crop size settings: I have specific crop sizes I use for projects and websites, and it's a pain to have to enter it manually every time. Yes, lift/stamp works as a workaround, but it's a hack.

  8. Noise reduction: Again, Adobe cracked it. Just copy them.

  9. Integration with other services: Forget about Flickr, but give me 500px and vimeo natively.

  10. A replacement to MobileMe Gallery: It's going away in a few weeks and I'm going to miss it. I wrote about how I use MobileMe Gallery and I haven't found anything that can replace it.

  11. Aperture for iPad: To edit on the road (ratings, keywords, flags), some lightish post (curves, presets) and sharing (some form of MobileMe Gallery replacement, maybe the iPhoto for iOS journals)

In about 12 hours we'll know if any of this comes true. It'll be the middle of the night here, so I won't find out until later in the day, but fingers crossed.