WPPI — mylio; A Contender to Replace Aperture?
From the show floor at WPPI 2015 in Las Vegas…
I've heard of mylio before (they're advertising department appears to be very well funded), but hadn't given it much of a look. It sounded intriguing, but honestly when I first heard about it I thought “oh, shame, Photos.app will do all that”. Of course now that we've seen what Photos will be, and I got a very nice demo and answers to some tough questions at WPPI, I'm extremely excited about what mylio can be. It may not be able to replace Lightroom or Aperture today for advanced users, but honestly there's a possibility that by integrating Photo Mechanic as an ingest tool and letting mylio take it from there, you could have a very powerful and flexible DAM on your hands.
So what does it do? In essence, it's a DAM (digital asset management) tool that synchronizes across multiple devices (OS X, Windows, and iOS, with Android to come), and includes some basic image enhancement tools, with full support for “open in editor”. The sync is the killer feature. Gone are the days of storing a library on a portable drive if you need to access it from multiple systems, gone are the days of a single computer that has to be shared by husband and wife or photographer and assistant, gone are the days of planning which photos to include on your iPhone, and enter the days editing on one device and having edits sync instantly across all of them. It's really, really compelling. I can even see shooting tethered (not with built-in support but using tether software that ingests to the mylio folder) and seeing those photos pop up on an iPad the client is holding. There are some very compelling features here.
Here's what I can tell you, good and bad, that really stuck out for me on the show floor. And every feature that's missing is something they are working on. These two chaps gave me a great demo and put up with all my tough questions at WPPI; thanks guys!
Capabilities you want to know about
- On import, you have a very flexible name-changing system. Yay!
- On import, you have virtually no metadata control. Boo! However…
- The way “import” works, mylio is simply syncing, or mirroring, a Finder structure. If you put photos in the right folder, they are instantly inside of mylio. Which means you could use anything to import, such as…
- Using Photo Mechanic to import could actually be a reasonable workflow. Even many Lightroom users use Photo Mechanic to import today. If you need powerful metadata and fast import, Photo Mechanic will do that. Just import to your mylio folder and they will be “imported” into mylio instantly.
- Star ratings, color labels and flagging, are are all built in. Take that, Photos.app.
- The Albums structure is flat right now, which is a problem, but nested Albums is high on their list. I have to play with it to really understand it but I think there might be a semi-acceptable workaround in how you handle the setup of your mylio “libraries” (in quotes because that's not really what they are but that's how us Aperture users are used to thinking of them). Regardless, nested albums is high on their list.
- It actually handles RAW+JPEG properly. They are imported as pairs, and when you edit a photo, you choose which one you want to edit. Lightroom can't even do that.
- The “open in editor” function lists as many apps as you want it to. So you can open an image in Pixelmator, Photoshop, or whatever you like.
- I don't know if it handles 16-bit or what the options are for “open in editor”.
- It uses its own RAW decoder, which may or may not be a good thing. The only way to know will be to compare a series of RAW images decoded by Apple Camera RAW and by mylio. This of course could be a complete deal breaker. If their RAW decode isn't as good, then the entire solution gets thrown out the window. They don't give you the option of using Apple's RAW decode, because this is cross platform. This also means that they have to decode every new camera as it comes out; Apple is the biggest company in the world and sometimes that takes too long. Adobe is sometimes faster than Apple, sometimes not. But now we have to rely on mylio to do the same work themselves. Clearly I'm not convinced this is a good idea but testing, and seeing how they handle this over time, will be the only way to know.
- Mylio includes a simple collection of global editing tools (no brushes) but this is their fastest area of expansion. I encouraged them to focus more on DAM since that's the killer feature; editing tools can come later since we can always edit using other apps. It's a balance of course.
- Syncing between devices does not rely on a cloud service. It's peer-to-peer (think BitTorrent), all handled across your wifi network. I believe that there is a cloud option, but I wasn't clear how that integrates. If your devices are on the same network, changes happen instantly. If they aren't, changes happen when the devices enter the same network. It has intelligence for merging syncs if two people are working on the same library. If they are working on the same photo, then the newest one wins, which seems acceptable.
- When you create a folder on an iOS device in mylio, that folder is actually created in the Finder on your Mac. That's trippy to see.
I'm already in touch with their PR and technical team. I'll start playing with this myself very soon, as I have really high hopes for what it can be. Fingers crossed, and if any readers have used it yet, please chime in your thoughts below. I'd love to know what you thought of it, what you think is missing, and of course if there are any great features or blatantly missing features that I've excluded here.
Check out their product promo video, and again I'll be diving into this personally very soon.
on March 4, 2015 - 10:35am
$100 per year for level with RAW support. Non-starter for me.
on March 4, 2015 - 10:43am
It's $120 per year for Lightroom. $600 per year if you do the full CC suite. Just sayin’.
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on March 4, 2015 - 1:57pm
Don’t forget that Lightroom is also available as a perpetual license at $150 for full license and $80 for upgrade with no time clock for end of use before your next payment. Of course this doesn’t include the CC version of Ps that is included in the package pricing you mention for $120.
on March 4, 2015 - 12:25pm
Great writing, Joseph.
I did a quick test yesterday, and I was amazed how fast it is (okay, just a small number of images). In general, I’m always skeptic about cross-plattform apps - but this time I’m impressed.
It’s not a perfect(?) solution for me as I want to use Iridient Developer for RAW development. But, after a roundtrip to ID you can not see the edits done (as you could if using LR for editing). But it is worth more testing - and the trial version can handle up 1000 images.
I thought it used Apple RAW - but as it is not - I must compare the conversion quality.
on March 4, 2015 - 1:03pm
Magnus: So, the trial version does handle RAW? I wasn’t going to trial it because I assumed the trial would be like the Level 1 subscription - i.e. without RAW.
on March 4, 2015 - 2:16pm
Hi Chris, there is a 30 day Advanced Trial option so you can get the full experience and make your choice.
on March 4, 2015 - 10:39pm
Thanks Paul - will give it a test drive!
on March 4, 2015 - 1:08pm
I signed up last week thinking I could use it as a way to get my 500,000+ image Aperture library up to the cloud and available to my iPad when I travel. I was a bit confused about their pricing. One part of their site has pricing broken down by number of images from Basic (50,000 images) to Advanced (500,000 images). Prices ranged from $50/yr to $250/yr. But another area show the price to be related to total GB size ranging from 5 GB to 25 GB. Which is it? Or is it both? I don’t know. It’s an important bit of information to know when deciding the resolution of file you want to archive. Neither is enough for my situation as a professional. As I have too many images to fit their plans. I had no intention of using it as an editing tool.
It seems to be able to automatically use Lightroom Catalogs and IPhoto Libraries directly. I expected this to be the case for Aperture also, but found after signing up that this is not the case. I had to export selected images to a Mylio Folder on my hard drive first. Thus eating up more of my hard drive space in order to get them into an acceptable form for upload. Not what I had in mind. I can do this with my “unlimited” Pro Flickr account for $29/yr. I also have Smugmug that I’m already signed up for as a pro account that has unlimited uploads up to 50mb/file. So, I would be incurring no new additional costs. Both of these services have usable iOS apps, so access is not a problem.
After reading Scott Kelby’s glowing review the other day, I had hoped this would be a viable option for my image library access. But I find it’s too restrictive both in cost and functionality to be worth paying the additional recurring funds.
on March 4, 2015 - 2:37pm
They don’t support my Nikon D50 raw, so no use to me at this time.
on March 4, 2015 - 10:46pm
I think it is a really interesting case about what is happening in terms of pricing photography solutions nowadays.
To me, it is totally overpriced and I would never pay that amount of money just to have my devices synchronised.
How exactly did we end up with inferior solutions like Apples’ Photos for free on the one hand and ridiculous yearly subscription software like Lightroom/PS, mylio on the other, where I end up spending upwards of $4000 over a ten year span when I use it all together?
Aperture was a one time $69 investment, by the way. I feel we are getting ripped off as photographers.
on March 5, 2015 - 9:21am
The rush to leave Aperture simply because new products appear perplexes me. It’s not being actively developed- but so what? It works and it works well.
‘Photos’ is clearly a non-starter for serious users–it is laughable, really. I’ve gritted my teeth with Pages/Numbers and feature removal but not with my damn pictures!
Aperture is an established workflow here and probably for a lot of people and will remain in active use for at least three years in the future. I’m sorry to see this site and many others poured by flashy upstarts. We’ve all been lured by the ‘latest and greatest’. It’s analogous to the CPU speed wars that drove constant hardware upgrades, no longer necessary because even low end machines are sufficient for 95% of the users- overkill in many cases.
Software, same thing. Excel is a good example of a problem solved. So is Aperture.
on March 5, 2015 - 10:12am
I really like Aperture and it’s workflow. It have served me well for many years :) But, my main reason to change, is that Aperture is not as good as a RAW developer for my new camera (Nikon D7100). My favorit is Iridient - but it have no DAM function at all. So I need a “Aperture DAM clone”. And it does not seems like Photos is that (for at least a couple of years). Yes, I could edit the files in ID and then back to Aperture - But it seems like waste of hard drive space to create a 140 MB 16-bit TIFF, when we have non-destructive RAW editing ;)
on March 5, 2015 - 10:45am
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on March 5, 2015 - 3:48pm
Having read this post yesterday I signed up for the Mylio trial last night and spent half the day playing with it. I say playing but it is proving to be really useful in migrating and tidying up my exported Aperture libraries. There have also been unexpected bonuses, my favourite of which is the Calendar facility. Dragging old family scanned images into a timeline has unearthed all kinds of stuff that I hadn’t seen in years. Pulling some of these into Albums that sync to my iPad or phone means its easy to share with the rest of the tribe. Yes, there will be a cost attached but my initial impression is that the benefits seem worth it. It’s a really elegant piece of software and no doubt they’ll keep adding functionality as fast as they can.
on March 5, 2015 - 9:11pm
Hi there. Solid Aperture user, I keep using it but like you have my eyes open. I do not fancy LR although for edits I know it is good. Tried Mylio with PC, Mac, iPhone and iPad including JPG and 5D3 RAWs. I am very impressed. Same UI on all systems, sync flawless and instant. DAM part is simple compared to Aperture but is well thought out and nothing missing really. Folders are already nested, albums aren’t. Sure it can get refined, but it feels very serious yet it is very easy to use (and fast). One terrific thing only Aperture has to my knowledge is additive display where anything you select in your library’s hierarchy gets added up to display all photos across your selection and then you can filter, sort etc. over that set… I’d love Mylio to have that. I’m a little less impressed by the editing as it is basic and global (no brushes) and quality TBC but surely that will improve. The link with the filesystem is clear and transparent, which feels reassuring. Sidecar files get added, but all thumbs & previews and library data populate a separate folder, it is smart as this separates your files from the Mylio specifics, so you can use multiple software at the same time over your picture folders. Compared RAW engines by exporting the same RAW picture (5D3) to max quality & res JPG from both Aperture and Mylio (with obviously zero adjustments). The Mylio rendering has the same size (some engines show more pixels on the edges, my photos are in fact bigger than Aperture shows!!!), and the only difference I could see is in tones. Mylio was more contrasty, crushing the shadows a little more, whereas Aperture rendered tones more flat, shadows were more open. Although a very limited test, I didn’t see anything bad in the RAW rendering but noticed they do not support, for example, the 7D2. As per my JPGs, they looked all correct. All in all a very impressive start for a software that looks recent, and obviously very serious thought was given to both library management, sync, cloud, UI etc. It is fast and easy to use and even if I came across a few bugs, it already feels solid.
on March 6, 2015 - 12:58pm
Great post about Mylio. I was a loyal Aperture user, and started working with it in the early beta stage last year. I fell in love with the product. I liked it so much that I wrote a book about it “The Official Guide to Mylio,” which was released in January and available at Amazon ( http://budurl.com/Myliokindle ) and Barnes and Noble ( http://budurl.com/MylioNook ). Version 1.1 released recently, and I will have an update on the new features soon (any purchasers through Amazon will get the updates automatically).
As part of the process of writing the book, I met with their developers. I can tell you that they have a really world class team working on the product and they are all photographers on some level. The CEO is the former CTO for Microsoft, and a very accomplished photographer. Also on the team is Kevin Gilbert, former White House photographer. They know there stuff, and are committed to this being a world class photo product.
In the book I have some comparison of RAW conversions. Mylio still has a way to go on this front, but when I decided to leave Aperture, I moved to Lightroom. I am using Mylio in a way that has it watch my Lightroom folders, so the RAW issue goes away on some levels. It works very well with Lightroom.
While I understand the complaints about pricing, those who have not used the product do not appreciate the value it delivers, especially in it’s ability to create backups both offsite and in the cloud. To me it is worth its price in gold if it keeps me from losing a single important image. Companies that truly want to develop world class products need to charge money for what they do, and from that perspective their pricing is fair. Finally, you don’t need to use the cloud if you don’t want to. I used an older Mac hooked up to a massive storage drive parked at my daughters house. It just creates a backup in the background. If I need to restore for some reason, I simply drive a half hour and pick up the drive.
I see that a Mylio forum exists on this site, and will be happy to answer anyone’s questions. I have beat the product up pretty hard, and put it through a variety of workflow scenarios, so if I can help shorten your learning curve, I am happy to.
on March 6, 2015 - 1:00pm
That is awesome Jordan, thank you! And if you'd like to write any posts here, and promote your book that way, I'd be happy to have you do that.
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on March 7, 2015 - 4:22am
I totally agree with MikeA. I totally despise the subscription software model. I got really disappointed when Apple ceased development of aperture. After Adobe moved Photoshop into subscription, I think it’s just a matter of time till they do it to Lightroom, so I don’t want to move there either. I understand for some people not upgrading its not an option, but it is for me. I’ll keep using aperture for a couple of years and see what happens. I’ll probably use Photos on the go, and get the pictures on aperture when I get home. Call it a boycott. I have no need to spend money on something I don’t like. I’ll keep my 3 year old iMac running a bit longer (it’s quite snappy since I installed an SSD anyway. Do they want my money? Show me a worthy product. No signatures. I guess they are opening space for an open source DAM tool. If it happens in the next two years, I’ll be in.
on March 7, 2015 - 12:57pm
Marco, I have the same position towards subscription.. Aperture was a one time purchase and has served me all this time.. Really disappointed at how Apple is treating the Pro Market.
I urge you to look at Aftershot Pro 2 trial.. No subscription and has all the features from Aperture and Lightroom and even has HDR processing software included.
see here for the discussion thread on this software.
on March 7, 2015 - 2:28pm
I cross posted this on the Mylio forum, but since no one has been there yet, and this seems to be the thread where the most discussion of Mylio is, I thought I would post it here too.
I have created videos on some of the really cool features in Mylio.
The first is about the Lightbox feature at http://budurl.com/MLightbox .
The second is about Fluttering through your pictures at http://budurl.com/MFlutter .
Hope you enjoy them.
on March 8, 2015 - 9:24am
Nice videos, Jordan.
I was aware of the Lightbox but had not used it. Came in handy today for selecting images to edit in ID.
on March 8, 2015 - 3:39pm
I know this is probably a silly idea, as I don’t think Apple has ever done that, but wouldn’t it make sense for Apple to sell aperture for a third party? As we see from the competition, it is a great software and a shame to let it go!
on March 9, 2015 - 6:49am
We have discussed this in the forum to some extent and I agree with the general statement, that it makes no sense to let a mature and well designed piece of software like Aperture just die a slow death in the corner. This is not Apple Works, where there is a huge technology gap to the rest of the competition. Aperture may not have been market leader, but the photographers who used it for so many years have all cherished it.
Maybe somebody just needs to step up and talk to Apple about this. It could be that everybody just assumes they won’t do it when in fact they may be quit open. They for sure don’t need the money, but they could at least get some of the bad mojo back with us,
My dream scenario would be Phase One acquiring the whole thing, Apertures DAM and user interface combined with the Capture One Pro 8 engine would be quite a package.