Apple released Aperture 3, the newest version of its photograph-editing software platform, on Feb. 9. New features include "Places," which leverages GPS data to explore photos by their shooting location, non-destructive photo editing and the ability to choose from a variety of professional imaging effects.
Apple's online store went offline briefly on the morning on Feb. 9, with a note suggesting that updates were imminent. This sent Twitter into a froth, with posters speculating that Apple was about to announce new MacBooks or even pre-ordering for the iPad tablet PC. That turned out to not be the case.
The Aperture franchise competes with Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom digital-photography software, and is aimed primarily at semi-professional or professional shooters "who edit and manage massive libraries of photos and iPhoto users who want to take their photos further with easy-to-use tools such as Brushes and Adjustment Presets," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, wrote in a Feb. 9 statement.
Apple first introduced Aperture at a special event in October 2005, and rolled out succeeding versions at a regular pace afterwards. Apple claims that the new version of the software includes more than 200 new features.
Among them: the new "Places" feature that uses a camera's GPS chip to convert location coordinates into familiar location names, which it then displays on a Places map; locations can also be extracted from iPhone photos or Apps that utilize GPS, or else manually pinned on a map. Organization options for those geo-coded images include not only standard-issue locations such as countries or cities, but also more esoteric points of interest-the Apple site devoted to the software calls out "Old Faithful," for example.
The "Faces" feature automatically detects faces in particular photos, and then scans the user's library to find other faces that match. In theory, the program becomes "smarter and more accurate" as time progresses, according to Apple, and photos can be organized by people shown in particular images.
"Adjustment Presets" presents a streamlined way for photographers to adjust image aspects such as white balance, exposure shifts, sharpening lines, and boosting vibrancy. For those looking to add a bit of shininess to corporate presentations, "Advanced Slideshows" allow users to combine HD video clips, photos, soundtracks and themes together in a single montage. DRM-free music can be dragged from iTunes into the presentation, and paired with photographs.
A free 30-day trial of Aperture 3 can be downloaded here.