Mac Photos Beta Will Disappoint Aperture Users

Apple released a new developer seed Thursday, Mac OS X version 10.10.3. Primary among the features of this latest release is a preview of the long-promised Photos app. Intended as the replacement for both iPhoto and Apple's Aperture software for the Mac, Photos was announced during WWDC 2014, but pro users aren't likely to give the new app a warm welcome.

First off, Photos on Mac OS looks a lot like the Photos app on iOS. Familiar looking groupings of photos like Collections and Moments now appear in the main window. You can favorite photos, and create albums just as iPhoto can. In fact, you can even use Photos alongside iPhoto, and it will keep the differences completely separate in each (at least in the beta version). Here's what the main Photos window looks like:

Main Photos app window viewing an individual albumMain Photos app window viewing an individual album

One of the biggest changes with the new version is storage, since the Photos preview page goes to great lengths to explain iCloud Photo Library and why it's a great way to store your photos. You remember iCloud, that super reliable Apple service that's never failed anyone ever. There's no mention of free storage, so anyone interested in the iCloud Photo Library will want to investigate purchasing additional iCloud storage.

Editing a photo will look very familiar to anyone who's tapped the Edit button on an iOS device in iOS 7 or 8:

Edit screen in the new Photos appEdit screen in the new Photos app

For people moving to this from iPhoto, so far it doesn't seem to be a very dramatic change. In basic use I haven't seen anyone say they couldn't do something in Photos that iPhoto used to do. Good luck finding anything else out, as this is just the latest in a string of impossible-to-search application names if you want to learn more or you're having trouble.

Faces View - Like the Apple Watch

Faces View - Very Similar to Apple Watch

If you're looking at this as an Aperture replacement, however, you should really keep looking. Many of the features of Aperture that are considered "pro" features such as IPTC metadata will still be part of the photo, just not shown. Custom metadata fields will NOT transfer and that data will be lost. If Aperture is a bit long in the tooth for you, perhaps now is the time to consider moving to Lightroom, since Apple has ceased development of Aperture in favor of this new Photos app.

This is only the first beta to leave Apple's headquarters, so there's a chance more features will come over time. Apple's modus operandi goes back to Final Cut Pro and even iMovie. When the company was ready for a new paradigm, it released a new version devoid of many popular and/or needed features. Over time, many of those features were added back into the movie editing apps, but users were left hanging while waiting.

Here's the reality: by the time 10.10.3 is publicly released, it is unlikely that significant features will have been added to Photos, leaving pros to cling to Aperture or move to Adobe's Lightroom.