Sunday 22 April 2012

Pixelsync — Photomanagement for Aperture and iPhoto on the iPad

Update: Pixelsync is now discontinued, due to significant changes in Aperture 3.3

It's a shame to see it go this way, but I'll leave the rest of the post as is, since the info may still be valid for those who've not updated. Here's hoping Photosmith start working on an Aperture version!

Update 2: Pixelstream App?

A very bare Pixelstream website is promising to "Bring Aperture, iPhoto, and Lightroom to iOS", which may well mean a PixelSync replacement. Stay tuned...

Ever since I got an iPad I've been wishing Apple would make me some kind of iOS 'client' to Aperture so that I could do basic photo management and editing from my iPad. I often leave my laptop at work, or would like to be able to work on photos with something smaller, and which doesn't produce so much heat if I'm not doing serious edits. I can imagine those with a Mac Pro or iMac would have even more reason to want such an app for their iPad...

So Apple haven't stepped up to the plate, but two iOS developers have:

Pixelsync for Aperture and iPhoto, or Photosmith for Lightroom users

I only use Aperture, so can only really talk about Pixelsync, but it looks like it has pretty similar functionality, at least comparing version 1.x of both... Both have announced upcoming 2.x releases, so looking forward to some significant new features from both!

So what does it do?

It lets you sync photos from your main library (Aperture or iPhoto) to the iPad app, make changes to metadata (e.g. ratings, keywords, colour labels, titles, etc) and sync those changes back to your library.

You can also export these photos (email or the iPad's photostream) and show slideshows of any of the synced photos, if you're into that kind of thing.

This all works using a helper app on your computer that provides access to your Aperture and/or iPhoto libraries (yes, it supports multiple libraries at once).

What doesn't it do (yet)?

Obviously running on an iPad, you're not running a full version of Aperture — it's just a companion, so its worth knowing what you can't do with it...

You can't edit photos (yet). You can't rearrange your library or add photos to albums/books/etc (yet). You can't use the faces or geolocations features (yet). And you can't import photos from your iPad directly into Aperture (yet).

Some of these are planned features for v2.x, some are unlikely to come for a long time. Check out the limitations information for further details or up-to-date limitations of the app.

What's the point?

I find a lot of the time consuming work in going through my photos is in the management side of things. Even just picking which shots I want to delete, keep, share or print can be quite time consuming. This usually takes a couple of passes through an 'event' of rating photos. For some projects I do a lot of tagging as well. So even though this app can only edit metadata of photos, this is still a significant chunk of the time I spend using Aperture

If I want some feedback from my wife or a client about photos (I'm not the most decisive, especially when there are 10 photos of the same 'moment', each with their own technical and artistic flaws!), then having them on the iPad makes this really easy, and saves me bringing the computer home from work.

I'm also pretty bad at getting around to sorting through some of my larger 'events'... like that holiday we took over a year ago that keeps getting pushed back for smaller, easier tasks... so having the whole album on my iPad, with the ability to very quickly go in and rate a few photos, to sort the wheat from the chaff, makes it a much smaller barrier to getting any work done on those larger, older, albums that I never seem to have time for. I'm much more likely to have the iPad on the bus/train than my laptop, and I can only imagine how much of a difference this would make if I had a desktop computer.

I wish it did more...

Yeah it doesn't handle basic edits... that's a pain, when I know I could rotate the photo by 2º to fix that awfully skewed horizon in a couple of seconds in Aperture...

And some of the features being discussed in the developer's feedback forum sound amazing... but apparently independent developers don't have infinite resources to do these things instantly; who'd have thought?...

I'd also love to see some kind of "Back To My Mac"-style connection, so you don't need to be on the same network (ie let me sync between work and home), which might also let me sync photos directly into Aperture while I'm on a shoot or on holidays... but I might just be dreaming here (;

Is it worth it?

Yep. It's about $10 (depending on your currency and I guess whether the developer changes prices), so if you're like me and used to having to pay for photography software its not a big price to pay for a very worthwhile extension to my usage of Aperture. I've been wanting to see an app like this for many months, if not years, and am a bit sad I didn't find it sooner!

I guess the alternative is to use VNC and just use Aperture directly, but having tried this its just not as responsive as I'd like, and so much of what I do in Aperture is keyboard-driven, which kinda sucks when the keyboard takes up half your photo-viewing real-estate on the iPad...

1 comment:

Travis said...

Thoughtful laments. I too feel your pain. We can only hope that with Aperture 4 and the new iPad Apple will not only see the obvious opportunity but deliver on it.