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Predicting Aperture 4.0/X

PhotoJoseph's picture
February 1, 2012 - 7:30pm

[UPDATED on Feb 5, thanks to Whitney Dunn in the comments below! I had calculated based on the Aperture 3.2 release being the present, which threw everything off by several months. Oops!]

One of the first things I read this morning was a tweet from @ScottBourne that read “About Aperture 4.0”, which woke me up far faster than coffee ever could! However it wasn’t an announcement, but simply a prediction. Ah, I can relax now.

I read his article on with interest, and he has some encouraging thoughts on the future of the app (all of which I’ve been saying as well, but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one!). His historical timeline, however, is off. I guess Scott posted before his morning coffee, didn’tcha buddy ;-) It got me curious of the actual timeline though, and so I broke out Numbers to start plotting it, and before I knew it I was completely geeking out on charts and tables in Numbers. Hey, we can’t look at images all day long!

I share this here only because I wasted spent so much time on this this morning, and figured someone should see it other than me!

Aperture Release Schedule timeline — click to view largerAll data is from the Wikipedia entry on Aperture, so if there are any mistakes, I blame whoever edited it last :) The way I did this is I assigned a “value” to each release; 1.0 for a major release like v1.0, 0.1 for a dot release like v1.1, and 0.01 for a maintenance release like v1.1.1. I however gave v.1.5 a score of 0.8 because frankly, 1.5 could have been 2.0. With actual dates and calculated days-since-release, I was able to make the fancy little chart you see above.

The short summary is:

  • Aperture 1.0 to 1.5: 10 months
  • Aperture 1.5 to 2.0: 16.5 months
  • (Aperture 1.0 to 2.0: 26.5 months)
  • Aperture 2.0 to 3.0: 24 months
  • Aperture 3.0 to present: 20 24 months

But the chart is much more fun to look at.

So when do we “predict” Aperture 4.0 or X or whatever it may be called? My Numbers skills aren’t that good to draw the prediction for me, but if you call the 1.0 to 2.0 to 3.0 the only major releases and then the average is simply 25.25 24.8 months, so that’d put it right around five months from now, or this June within a month or less! If you want to call 1.5 a major release, then the average drops to 16.8 months in which case we’re several months overdue.

Scott predicted between February and October of this year (2012); I’ll go more aggressive and predict before June 2012. Revised data now points to Feb or March of 2012, actually. Also it’s been pointed out that most releases are on a Tuesday. The guy who runs TheApertureBlog predicted on twitter that it’d be this tuesday. We shall see!

So there you have it… the results of a totally wasted morning. If you spot any errors, please do let me know.

Apple Aperture

Nope. I can’t spot a single error. I agree with you 100%. You totally wasted your morning. :-)

P.S. I really hope you’re right.

If you can find some more time to waste, it would be interesting to see the Lightroom Betas and releases superimposed on that chart to see if there is any correlation. Maybe the LR4 Beta will give us a hint about Aperture 4? On the other hand, Apple never seems to do anything based on what a competitor does.


Just the thought of 4.0 makes me giddy with excitement!
Bring it on Apple…

The wider question is “will there EVER be Aperture 4.0?”

I hope there will - really I do - but Apple has been steadily divorcing itself from the core professional user base it established.

We see this in the complete lack of Apple DIsplays aimed at pro users, in the serious discussions as to whether the Mac Pro workstation will have a replacement, in the recent Final Cut weirdness and so on.

I have used Aperture since the first version for many reasons - not the least of which is that I detest PS. It is massively over-engineered for 90% of users and far too complex IMV for what most photographers actually need.

I love Aperture but Apple have been slow at fixing bugs and making new versions - their attention seems to have shifted firmly to shiny iThings now and consumer software apps to work the iThings.

I hope (iHope?) they keep Aperture alive and that 4 is a Lightroom (*spit!*) killer though!


Cool! I also waste time with that kind of stuff. I’ve made a slight variation of your analysis using linear trend lines in Excell charts and I have also some results. If I consider all the releases registered in Wiklipedia, my estimate for Aperture 4 release is Feb 2nd 2013 (. But if I consider only the major releases (1, 2 and 3), my estimate is March 29th 2012. My method to evaluate releases is (1.0.0 = 100; 1.1.1 = 111; 3.0.2 = 302; 4.0.0 = 400). If you want my chart I can email it to you.
Any way, and this is just a guess ;-) , the marketing guys from Apple, probably, just probably, don’t preform this kind of analysis…

A much more interesting and more typically Apple way of looking at this is :

Aperture 2 - released 2nd Tuesday of February 2008
Aperture 3 - released 2nd Tuesday of February 2010
Aperture 4 - released …………..

One question might be that because the 1st of February was a Wednesday this year, we might bet on a 7th (1st Tuesday) release instead of a 14th (2nd Tuesday).

Anyone care to bet? :) :)

SwitcherMark — I’m glad you agree with… hey waitaminute!! ;-)

Thomas — nice idea, but no I don’t think Apple cares too much what Adobe does when it comes to release schedules.

Marcus — we’ll have none of that negative thinking here, thank you very much ;-) Aperture will live on, I’m extremely confident of that. As far as MacPro Workstations, the advent of Thunderbolt pretty much kills the last need for a tower, which is PCI slots. In a world where all PCI card needs can be met by a box with a Thunderbolt port for more portability and easier setup and use, what’s not to love?

André — I like the thinking :) It’ll be interesting to see who’s closest!

gfsymon — very astute observation. If you’re right… my fingers are about to get very tired!!

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time I’ve wasted on this analysis pales in comparison to my predictions on the Nikon D4/D800!

I guess the other big prediction other than “when” would be the “what” will be the changes? One thing we all(all least me) are waiting for is the ability to easily select more than one external editor.
Anyone have any predictions/hopes for what is in store for Aperture 4?

Joseph, there actually is one small mistake in the chart – the “present” is October 12, 2011”. 25.5 months from Aperture 3.0 would put the release at… mid-March, 2012.

I’ve got two picks for the release date: Tuesday, February 14 (2nd Tuesday in February), or at the iPad 3 introduction (likely mid-March), alongside an Aperture for iPad app.

We’ll see!

Thanks Whitney — that’s a big error. Re-read the post, I have updated!

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I’m not a fan of the prediction game, I just wanted to say that I admire your Numbers skills :)

Assuming that Apple will come out with an update sooner or later, the question for me is what? What new features will it have? Some things I would like to see (in order of importance to my workflow):
• Much improved pen pressure responsiveness for all brush-in adjustments
• A gradient tool
• A transform/distort tool that would allow me to slightly compress the width of a photo
• Lens perspective correction

And, of course, speed, speed, and more speed.

Looking forward to that second Tuesday in February 2012! We’ll see if the release trend continues. One basic addition I am hoping for is perspective control. But, I am sure Apple has way more up their sleeve!

And for those of you wanting speed, you may want to look at your hardware. I had an older MacPro and got the spinning beach ball a lot. I recently purchased the 21.5” iMac for $1200 and added another 8gb ram for $50. So, for $1250 I have a great machine with 12gb ram. Adjustments now happen instantaneously and EVERYTHING is so much quicker on my library with over 250,000 photos. Best investment I have made in a long time.

Looking forward to whatever Aperture brings. Items high on my wishlist are:

Big advances in the noise reduction and sharpening blocks.
A really nice film grain generator.
And a speed bump never hurts. ;)

It looks like the internet chatter is gearing up for a March iPad 3 announcement…if there is any truth to it, I wonder if Apple will announce anything like software prior to March.

A few for the wish list:

1) A history of the photograph, especially for 3rd party editors (i.e., where has it been edited since import - PE, Nik Effects etc).

2) Better store for photo purchase. it drives me up the wall to only see the typical photo ratios (5x7, 8x10) instead of the digital ratios, 3:2 (8x12 and 12x18) since I do a lot of landscape work. This isn’t a big deal since I’ll use Smugmug for prints but less workflow the better.


Also, my guess is that there is going to be an Aperture app for the iPad. Especially with the amazing new screen coming on the iPad3. They are probably waiting for the new iPad to announce the new app. No inside info, just guessing and hoping!

Joseph wrote: “As far as MacPro Workstations, the advent of Thunderbolt pretty much kills the last need for a tower, which is PCI slots. In a world where all PCI card needs can be met by a box with a Thunderbolt port for more portability and easier setup and use, what’s not to love?”

Hi Joseph, I must disagree with you on this point. While Thunderbolt is an exciting technology it is definitely not a replacement for having a tower unit.

Each Thunderbolt cable can support up to 4 lanes of PCI Express. A top end graphics card uses 16 lanes of PCI Express. So you would need 4 Thunderbolt ports on your computer just to cope with the throughput of one PCI Express X16 card.

That’s before you start trying to attach raid arrays, monitors, USB hubs and who knows what else.

An iMac/laptop doesn’t allow you to easily swap your own hard drives, create the RAID stripes needed for high end video editing in a cost effective manner, install enough RAM, use top end processors or indeed use multiple processors.

Also, some people like to have a monitor on their desk and remove the processing duties, along with associated heat and noise to a cupboard or some other location. None of this is possible with an all in one solution.

Now look at the cost of Thunderbolt devices (which will admittedly fall) and you’ll see that it will take many more $ to get the same capabilities that a Mac Pro gives. Not to mention the awful clutter of wires trailing about the place, when a tower unit can keep it all nicely tidied away.

You may feel that Thunderbolt is the solution for you which is great, but just because you have no need of a tower unit doesn’t mean that no one else does.

Saying all that, my confidence that Apple will release a new Mac Pro is very low indeed. For all the reasons I mentioned above, I would like to have a tower unit as my next machine. This increasingly looks like it means a switch to Windows and Lightroom for me. As such, my migration to Lightroom is almost complete. My Aperture library is still up to date though, so if there are some significant announcements soon, it’s not to late to change course.

We’ll see……..


I stand corrected! I didn’t realize that PCI still had such a significant bandwidth advantage.

As far as moving to LR… we’ll be sorry to see you go, for sure. But Aperture will undoubtedly surprise us all, so let’s hope it happens soon enough to keep you here :)

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I have seen the posts regarding “Mountain Lion” which will be launched in the summer. I’ve only recently upgraded to Snow Leopard. Anyway, is there no news on Aperture 4? I’m just wondering where Apple’s energy in development is focused on? With LR4 imminent and A3 users looking hard at there offering are they not so concerned about other areas of their customer needs.


I wish I could tell you that I know when it’s coming or what will be there but I can’t. You really need to just understand that, as much as it may suck for us, this is the Apple way. Aperture 4 will be here sooner or later. It will have some amazing new features that you never knew you needed, some you were hoping for, and it’ll be missing some you want. It’ll fix bugs and add new ones. It’ll be lauded as “the greatest thing ever” and “the end of Apple” all at the same time. How do I know all this? Because that’s what happens with every major software release.

Do you really want to abandon years of education and organization of your photo library because of a shiny new feature on Lightroom and because Apple isn’t talking? They never talk but they always deliver. It’s the simultaneous frustration and wonder of Apple. Be patient. I’m confident it’ll be worth the wait.


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Well, all of the Feb and March 2012 projected dates have passed. If Mountain Lion appears in the Mac App Store over the summer, will Aperture 4.0/X appear then too?

Your guess is as good as ours :)

— Have you signed up for the mailing list?

Trouble with Aperture 4.0 is that it’s probably still a long way off. The development team was asking for suggestions not many weeks ago …

~~~>--} threeshoes photography

I had a brief exchange with Scott Bourne today on Twitter. He feels Apple has abandoned the pro market. Scott has withdrawn his prediction for an Aperture 4, and has moved to Lightroom. Anyone else losing hope there will be a new release of Aperture? I have now invested over a year in becoming an Aperture Expert in my own right, but I maintain my Lightroom and Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions. I fear I may have to move all my raw files from the last year+ back into the Adobe world once again.

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