Apple Aperture 3.x

June 2, 2010
By Dan Havlik

Prod Reviews - Apple Aperture 3X

Apple’s done wonders with the full-screen mode in Aperture 3.
I think it's safe to say that Apple and Adobe don't much care for each other these days. First there's the war over Adobe's Flash software which Apple refuses to support on its mobile devices, saying it's outdated and causes Macs to crash; a claim Adobe refutes as total nonsense. And then there's the ongoing competition over rival image management software: Apple with its Aperture program and Adobe with Lightroom.

The bad blood makes for good copy in the tech press especially considering their shared histories: Apple adopted Adobe's Postscript language for its printers early on and actually owned 20 percent of Adobe at one point, as Steve Jobs pointed out in an "open" letter about Flash posted on Apple's Web site in April. Also, anecdotally, about 95 percent of photographers I know run Photoshop on Apple computers.

In looking at the latest version of Aperture for this review—bumped up to 3.0.3 at the time of this writing and potentially rising—I was struck how almost comically different the two companies had approached the release of the third generation of their respective imaging software. On the one hand there was Adobe which, as this story went to press, still had not released a final version of Lightroom 3 after two rounds of public beta testing.

This approach is nothing new for Adobe. Leading up to the 2007 release of Lightroom 1.0, Adobe aggressively pursued the input of photographers, letting them test drive its software and provide feedback in an effort to stomp out the bugs before the final release. It's been the same with Lightroom 3, which if all goes according to Adobe's plan, was scheduled to have a smooth launch sometime this spring or early summer. On the other hand, all that input has its potential downsides. Remember that old joke about a camel being a horse designed by committee?

In contrast, two years separated the release of Aperture 2 and 3, during which we heard hardly a peep from Apple regarding the software. In fact, it wasn't until after Aperture 3 was launched in February 2010 that we realized our PR contact at Apple who had not been returning our emails for several months was no longer with the company.

Of course, this "secretive" approach is par for the course for Apple product releases. What wasn't par for the course was what an unmitigated disaster the launch of Aperture 3 initially proved to be. Reports of bugs abounded and early reviews were scathing. The one saving grace, which prevented Aperture 3 from becoming the next Apple Lisa, was that since this was software, bugs could be fixed in incremental updates.

And Apple quickly responded, banging out versions 3.0.1, 3.0.2, and 3.0.3 with dozens of fixes in the next few months. In fact, by the time version 3.0.3 was released in late April there seemed to be more tweaks to Aperture than the vaunted "200 new features" added to the program when 3.0 launched.

I waited to test the program until version 3.0.2 came out and while I've found some flaws, I was surprised by how much I still liked Aperture including some very helpful new features and a simple, attractive interface which has always been Apple's strong suit.

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