During the 2014 WWDC keynote, Apple demoed a very early build of its upcoming Photos application for Mac. The app will be available next year for OS X Yosemite, but for now all we really know is that its arrival will bring about the end of both iPhoto and Aperture. That news drew the attention of everyone who uses either of those applications, with many saying Apple no longer cared about pro-level users.
In an attempt to quell the outrage, Apple released a statement to ArsTechnica saying that Photos for Mac would still support pro features, but what exactly constituties a “pro-level” feature in Apple’s eyes? According to the statement, Photos will feature support for third-party plugins, library search, and advanced editing. If that sounds a little vague to you, it’s probably because Apple doesn’t really want to answer the question.
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The first look we got at Photos for Mac covered a few basic editing tricks: color and lighting adjustments. It certainly wasn’t anything groundbreaking, and the choice of editing tools mirrors what’s available in iOS 8. In other words, the selection isn’t that impressive. At least not that we’ve seen.
Probably the best look we’ve gotten so far at Photos comes from an image on Apple’s website:
Even that doesn’t do much to ease the uncertainty of users who might be looking for something closer to, you know, actual pro-level image editing. It seems that while Apple is claiming that pro users will feel at home because of things like “library search,” the truth is that most will end up frustrated with the company’s insistence on a unified experience across platforms where everything needs to conform to the capabilties of the lowest common denominator.
Of course, the Photos applications is still in development, and it’s possible that the screenshots we see now could differ wildly from what’s eventually launched next year (though it probably won’t). A cursory glance over the Aperture features web page quickly reveals a bevy of features that don’t appear to be included in this new software, especially under the “image adjustments” section. You also likely won’t find support for iPhoto’s printed products in the new app.
One interesting note here is that pro users aren’t the only ones who will likely be disappointed with Apple’s decision to end development on its existing photo products. It doesn’t look like iPhoto or Aperture will be updated with support for Apple’s upcoming iCloud Photo Library feature in iOS 8. As a result, those who make the jump from basic iCloud Photo Streams to the full photo library syncing feature will lose the ability to wirelessly sync their photos between Mac and iOS until Photos for Mac arrives with support for the photo library feature.
Of course, there are always issues that arise when making a significant switch like this, but it seems like a funny thing to overlook. Perhaps the iCloud Photo Library feature will be delayed on iOS until the Mac client is ready, like iCloud Keychain was before Mavericks was released.
Like it or not, Apple is making big changes to its lineup of photo editing products—though, given what we know of the software so far, it seems many power users will end up firmly on the “or not” side.