One of the things I love about Apple is the way they enhance Mac OS X with great features for other developers to leverage. Built-in spell-checking, incredibly rich edit controls, development environment and the recent Core frameworks are such additions. Core Image allows applications access to real-time hardware-accelerated graphic effects and is used within some of Apple’s own apps for various effects.
Pixelmator is the product of a two-man team that provides Photoshop like abilities for $59. Apple would not ship such a product for fear of further upsetting Adobe.
Whilst Pixelmator bears a resemblance to Photoshop and will happily open PSD files the user interface is very clean and easy to use and the Core Image filters and correction tools deliver their results in real-time. No more of the tweak-wait-look cycle Photoshop forced us into and gazing at CPU benchmarks working out which combination of processor and OS would be better.
The GPU is king.
Pixelmator also delivers the usual array of painting, manipulation and selection tools, a variety of brushes, layers, gradients, support for 100 file formats, metadata access etc. It integrates with other Mac technologies including the iSight (new layer), Spotlight (search meta), iPhoto, ColorSync, Dashboard (file conversion), Automator and leverages various open-source technologies including ImageMagick, Gradient Panel, Cairo, Sparkle (software update).
Future versions will include integration with Aperture (yes!), RAW file support, .Mac syncing (brushes, swatches etc.) and perhaps even vector support (probably utilizing Cairo).
Gruber had concerns Pixelmator was just vapourware which is now obviously not the case. I’m still waiting for Delicious Library 2 and Midnight Inbox 2 although I have a pre-release of OmniFocus I am allowed to write about if people are interested…