Photos for OS X Preview Now Available to Developers

Photos osx web title

Less than a week after scrubbing all mention of the new Photos for OS X app from its Web site, Apple has re-introduced the new software with a splash. A pre-release version is currently available to developers, bundled with a beta of OS X 10.10.3 (you need to install the system update to get the Photos app). The finished software is expected in the spring.

I haven’t had a chance to run the software yet, but several media outlets got an advanced look. I recommend starting with Chris Breen’s excellent overview at Macworld. David Pogue at Yahoo talks about switching from iPhoto and Aperture. And Wired and The Verge also have first-look articles.

[Update: Serenity Caldwell has given it a once-over and has a great FAQ at iMore.]

Some quick takeaways:

  • Switching from existing iPhoto and Aperture libraries looks to be less terrible than it could be; Photos won’t dupe your images, but will work with your existing library.
  • Photos for OS X is reportedly very fast. After iPhoto and Aperture sluggishness, I’m thrilled to hear it.
  • The new app, at least initially (?), won’t include support for star ratings or labels. Instead, there will be just a single “Favorite” button, as is found in the Photos for iOS app. As you know from my book Take Control of Your Digital Photos, I’m a big fan of using ratings to organize photos. In their place, the Photos app will convert ratings to keywords (which is one method I recommend when moving from iPhoto to Lightroom). So, that’s something, I guess.
  • You will be able to sync your photo library with iCloud, but it won’t be required. We don’t yet know if there will be a local backup option akin to Aperture’s vaults. (I’m guessing the answer is no, at least not at first.)
  • The appearance, organization, and editing tools are very similar to the Photos for iOS app.
  • Photos also supports projects like photo books and slideshows.

I’m looking forward to installing the app and throwing some libraries at it, both because I’m updating Take Control of Your Digital Photos and because I’m also working on a new book for Peachpit Press covering the Photos app and Apple’s photo ecosystem.

It’s going to be a busy winter and spring.

Aperture’s Golden Hour

Aperture sunsetIt seemed fitting that I heard the news that Apple is sunsetting Aperture while I was attending a photo seminar. Aperture has been largely dormant for the past three years, and as I commented to Jackie Dove in an article at The Next Web, “I have to admit, on one level I’m a bit relieved that we finally know what’s happening with Aperture, instead of the limbo it’s been in for the last few years.” (Is it weird to quote myself on my own blog?)

What does this news mean for photographers who’ve invested countless hours and gigabytes of photos to Aperture? In short, we need to wait and see what Apple’s new Photos for OS X application will bring, but I’m not optimistic it will meet everyone’s needs, especially right away.

I explain in more detail at TidBITS in a new article: “Aperture’s Golden Hour.”

In photography, the “golden hour” is that slice of time just before and after sunset when the sun is low in the sky and the light is often bronze-hued and dramatic. It’s one of the best times of the day to capture photos, but the good light too soon rolls over into darkness.

Apple’s professional photo-management application, Aperture, has enjoyed an extended golden hour. Although Adobe Photoshop Lightroom long ago dominated the market, Aperture has held on in development limbo — working fine (but sludgy, in my experience) for those who use it, but not updated in any meaningful way. Now, its light is close to winking out: Apple announced last week that it will soon halt development of Aperture.