Why Adobe Should Be Scared: The Rise of Apple Photos App

As many now know, Apple has stopped actively developing its photo editing software, Aperture.  This does not come as a surprise.  I think the plan to shelf Aperture has been in the works for quite some time and is a positive development.  Apple hasn’t offered much for development in Aperture since the 3.0 release.  Was that 4 years ago?  An eternity in the lifespan of software.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Aperture.  I’ve used it since its inception and I have a library that is well over 600 thousand images.  Aperture has great features and I find myself using photoshop less and less.  Part of this lies in the birth of two children, resulting in less motivation to spend time perfecting images on the computer.  I, instead, would prefer to spend time feeding the little munchkins all sorts of experiential treats.  My love for Aperture stems from its simple user interface that helps me keep my images orderly.  It has tools that are powerful enough for 90 percent of the work I do.  My approach to photography inherently doesn’t need much work.  In fact, it relies a great deal upon truth.  If I need to do more, then I can use PS.  

The hate stems from its consistent set of bugs.  Perhaps it is me, perhaps it is my machine.  Who knows.  I’ve spent countless hours trying to figure out one thing or the other throughout its inception.  Then, when it seems to be working properly, there is some sort of update to the OS, or to Aperture itself, that sets things all buggy again.  I think I’m currently in a smooth running stage.

I’ve contemplated switching to Lightroom and do use it on occasion.  Some of my current clients want to see raw files with edits and the Lr/Ps system is the only way to do that.  Alas, Lr and I don’t jive.  It is fine for the handful of submissions throughout the year that require it, but my archive is too big to reprocess all my images.  Especially on an application that annoys the shit out of me and is quite ugly to look at.  Sure, I would probably grow to accept Lr, but never really appreciate it.

Apple changed mobile photography and therefore the art form as a whole.  A strong imaging application, native to the operating system, is imperative to their integration strategy.  With this in mind, I’m hopeful the release of photos will prove my theory correct.  Based on my experience, I feel Aperture was built on old code and would need a major overhaul to bring it up to speed.  Hence, the constant source of bugs.  It makes sense that Apple would keep the features inherent in Aperture, but rebuild the app from the bottom up, rebrand it and add it to the OS.  

Which brings us to present day and why Adobe needs to be afraid.  If Apple does what I think they will do (I have been disappointed in the past, so I won’t stake my reputation on it), every person who purchases a Mac in the future, will have a powerful photo editing and organizational tool.  Since the vast majority of people in the industry use Macs, I will be able to send raw files to photo editors with edits and corrections intact.  I won’t need to use Lr for that stage of my workflow.  If I wanted, I will be able to share images with editors and clients while on the go via iCloud.  Add in the possibility of extensions and how multiple developer add-ons can democratize photo editing as a whole, and Adobe becomes a bit of an old hat.  In the future I may subscribe to Creative Cloud for a month here and there to do something not yet developed for the Photos App, but probably never more than that.  

I feel good about the possibilities, but all of the positive thoughts depend upon one thing: Whether or not Apple is going to do the right thing.  They could jump the shark and offer us a glorified version of iPhoto.  Or, they could smarten up and develop a tool for professionals with a simplified user interface that will work for amateurs too.  Let’s hope for the latter.