By Graham K. Rogers
Earlier today a number of updates were released, by Apple and by third party developers. From what I saw, the new versions of OS X, El Capitan (now 10.11.2), and to iOS (9.2) were spotted by several commentators. Along with the update to OS X, there was an El Capitan Recovery Update 1.0. XCode was updated to version 7.2.
I also found an update to the Apple Watch OS, which is now at 2.1. The updates came down in a reasonable time and all devices were ready to go when I left for work.
At the office, I updated the Mac mini I have there and the 3rd party updates were also shown for that device. I had already downloaded them for the MacBook Pro, and I am updating the MacBook as I write this.
The significant 3rd party updates shown in the list today were Pixelmator (3.4.1), Affinity Photo (1.4) which adds 6 new extensions to Photos in OS X, and CameraBag 2 (2.8.0), which also adds an extension. Some details of the upgrades are:
As well as performance improvements and bug fixes there were several new features:
- Use paste and match style when pasting text into the app
- Pan an image with the Hand tool while using the polygon lasso tool
- Gradients now faster and work better with large images
- Resize images with nearest-neighbour scaling
- Improved compatibility with the latest Photoshop CC features
- Improved zooming in the Pixelmator Distort Etension.
There were almost 20 fixes and stability improvements listed, as well as a comment on improved performance on Macs with Intel HD 3000 graphics cards.
The update to Affinity Photo showed a long list of updates and improvements:
- Panorama photo stitching
- Full support for the displays in the new Retina iMacs
- El Capitan Support including 6 extensions for Photos
- Live Stacks (for creating composites)
- Choice of RAW processing engines in the Develop persona
- Canvas Rotation
- Haze removal filter
- New Alpha selection features
- New "Split-toning" adjustment and adjustment layer
- New "Contrast Negate" blend mode
- Clipping preview added in Levels adjustment
- Perspective (single plane) added as a live Filter layer
- User-adjustable controller ramps for brush variances
- PDF/X pro printing including Spot Colors and overprint control
- Trim, bleed and crop marks for print and PDF export
- Pantone and Global colour support
- Customisable keyboard shortcuts
- Character and Paragraph panels; advanced on-screen text controls
- Live OpenType feature previews in the Typography panel
- Recent fonts list added
- PSD export better supports 3rd party apps (like Motion and Final Cut Pro X)
- Improved Photoshop plug-in support and improved plug-in management
- Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian) and Japanese languages added
The six new extensions for Photos are Affinity Develop, Haze Remover, Miniature (tilt-shift), Liquify, Monochrome, and Retouch. Along with the CameraBag extension, these expand the editing options in Photos considerably.
The list of changes to CameraBag 2 was comparatively short, but this application does now have some important additions:
- Added histograms and other useful graphs (number keys 1-5 for shortcuts)
- Added ability to zoom (scroll up/down)
The addition of a Photos extension is mentioned in the list of improvements and this adds a collection of around 50 filters accessible from within Photos.
The inclusion of several extensions, particularly those from Affinity Photo, have expanded the feature set of Apple's Photos. A few months ago, users were complaining about the weakness of the application, especially when compared to Aperture, which is no longer being updated. Now, Photos has a strong set of tools over and above its basic installation.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.