Apple’s New PhotoKit Has Huge Potential

Posted Jul. 19th, 2014 by Daniel J. Cox

Apple’s New PhotoKit Has Huge Potential. It’s now been at least a couple of weeks since Apple announced they would no longer be developing Aperture or even iPhoto. The disappointment was well documented across the web including my own dismay. However, since the announcement I’ve been doing more investigation of PhotoKit, the developer language Apple announced as the replacement foundation for Aperture and iPhoto. From all I’ve been able to gather, which admittedly isn’t a lot, there is huge potential in what Apple has planned for Photos. Let me try to explain why I think Photos is going to be revolutionary for ALL photographers, amateur and pro alike.

The new face of Apple's Photo program.

The new face of Apple’s Photo program.

PhotoKit will be the new foundation for all things photography within the Apple iOS and Mac environments. The new Photos program will act as the overall base with some tools developed by Apple, but… even more importantly, it will give third party developers such as DxO Optics, Nik, Adobe, Topaz, or any other known or unknown developer the ability to build additional tools for the main program via PhotoKit. So let’s say DxO decides to build a tool/App for Photos. I’ve been dreaming Apple would buy DxO and merge their superior image processing software into Aperture for the last several years. Apple buying DxO would have been a great but expensive way to get an even better tool than what Adobe has available for lens correction options in Lightroom. However, with PhotoKit, Apple no longer has to spend the cash to get the state of the art tools it requires to compete. Instead, they give DxO Optics the ability to integrate their lens and camera modules directly into Photos as if it were coded there by Apple. I don’t want to call it a plugin since it won’t have the downsides of the plugins we’re all familiar with. Instead it will integrate as if it were built directly into Photos from the very start. It will work on the RAW files and not require you export them from the program like we currently to do with Lightroom and Aperture.

The benefit for the consumer, by allowing the creativity of third party developers to access the main program, can not be overstated. Think of it, Apple sets the standards as they’ve done so well on other programs and third party developers are free to dream about making a tool, to do whatever they can think up. This will unleash a barrage of creativity for new and improved tools like we’ve never seen and has the potential to be a tremendous win-win for consumers as well as Apple. Good grief; even Adobe could write apps for a program like this giving them not only Lightroom but parts of Photos as well.

Part of the problem we professionals have had to endure was Apple’s inability to justify developing software for a very small number of so-called pro shooters or advanced enthusiasts. You can’t fault Apple for understanding that the business model of developing software for a very small group of people is not profitable. By developing the foundation Photos and then encouraging third party developers to really make it sing is brilliant. In the end Apple is able to concentrate on the parts of their business that makes gobs of money, like iPads and iPhones, and third party developers get a chance at success like they would never have without the Apple Photos foundation. When I think of the possibilities it’s absolutely mind boggling. Think of how the App Store currently works and you get an idea of how the new Photos may operate. The programs that tie in with Photos may be sold as Apps and there could be thousands of them.

Finally, another part of Photos we’ve heard about is it’s ability to sync to the Cloud. This also has huge potential and one industry it may effect is the  stock photography business. I would love to have all my best images up on the cloud, something similar to what I currently have with PhotoShelter. Unfortunately, PhotoShelter’s stock photo distribution system was built back in the days of the dinosaurs. I can’t even upload or market my stock video footage with PhotoShelter due to their ancient code that was written back in the late 90’s. What if all my favorite images were sitting on Apple servers and some third party developer writes an App that allows me to market, price and distribute those images right from my Photos software? Apple may take a cut like they do with current Apps but the 30% they charge is 45% less than what my biggest stock photo agency currently charges to market my work. I would love to pay Apple 30% all day long to have a system that works in this manner. This is probably the most implausible idea I’ve thought of for the new Photos program, but hey, that’s what I think Photos will do – give people the ability to dream big and have the foundation to attach those dreams to.  As I like to say, time will tell. Stay tuned.


Add Your Voice!
There are 6 comments on this post…
  1. Robert WilbournOn Sep. 3rd, 2018

    Great insight Daniel. Hopefully, these changes will begin to be available with an update to Photos along with the expected MacOS update this fall.

  2. Portrait of Ray Hirsch

    Ray HirschOn Jul. 23rd, 2014

    Thanks Dan for your insight on where Apple is headed. I use Lightroom, DXO 9, and sometimes PS, but find the LR DXO 9 process still less than efficient. I do all of my processing on Mac’s so anything that Apple can do to make the various software packages play nice would greatly appreciated.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 25th, 2014

      I’m very hopeful Ray. Thanks for stopping by to add your voice.

  3. Portrait of John Ohnemus

    John o.On Jul. 21st, 2014

    You have fleshed out what I said before. I have grown to be very fond of Apple–particularly their 1-1 help. The young men who help me to learn Aperture are helpful and second to none. Their is no doubt they will become well versed in Photos, when it becomes available. As to the add-ons, I’m just not there yet. They boggle my mind, but that doesn’t mean I’m not listening.

  4. Fred BurrOn Jul. 20th, 2014

    Really interesting stuff! Hopefully will save me $4,000+ on developing a store page on our website!

  5. Charles MaclauchlanOn Jul. 19th, 2014

    I have been thinking (hoping) along these lines also. There are 2 paths I can see Apple taking here, your essay predicts the one I hope they follow.

    When Apple released Aperture I recognized it immediately and broke out my checkbook. At that time DAM software was virtually unknown and crazy expensive. At $299 it was a lot less money. Still also expensive but I needed it. Apple led the way here and continues to do so. Aperture was and is first asset management/RAW conversion software. LR and others follow Apple’s lead. In their fashion Adobe charges a full upgrade price every time they more or less catch up to the added capabilities Apple gives us with free updates. Aperture also first brought us correction brushes, export to LR, plug-in capabilities. Aperture also continues to be the best asset management software I’ve found.

    These observations bring me hope that they’re moving in directions beneficial to us. I also recognize that most of Apple’s history has been innovation, ease of use, and existence as a “bit” player. They’ve become giant, influential and very profitable because so many of us want thumbnail snapshots of our world that we can seamlessly share with others around the globe. Apple could be moving more in that direction instead of the one we hope.

Add your voice to this conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In an effort to combat spam, your comment may be held for a brief moderation period.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.