Monday, September 29, 2014

Final Cut Pro X: What’s Next [10.1.4]


In my last post I laid out the past maintenance release dates to get a sense of when FCP X 10.1.3 might be released.  Dates ranged from 28-70 days after a feature release, with an average of 50 days. Apple was actually pretty accommodating with that one- releasing on August 19th, 53 days after 10.1.2.  That's remarkably close to the average interval time.

So why don't we do it again, shall we?

First off we have to make the assumption that the next release WILL be a feature release.  That's may not necessarily be the case, since FCP X has released multiple maintenance releases in a row: 10.0.4 to 10.0.5, and three maintenance releases in a row with 10.0.7, 10.0.8, and 10.0.9.

But let's be optimistic, shall we?

By all accounts Yosemite is due to come out in October, and if there are any technologies that FCP X can lean on then we could see those in an update this year.  iCloud Drive could be leveraged to improve Collaborative Workflows, and Extensions could be an interesting alternative to traditional plug-ins, but that's all supposition at this point.  However, there have been reports from 9to5mac about fall updates,

"Sources also say that Apple is preparing updates to iMovie and Final Cut Pro with improved tools for editing high-resolution, 4K footage."

On the FCP X side, at least, I find this report interesting, since it's been Retina ready since the 10.0.5 update with the first Retina MacBookPro, and it already a very capable 4K editing platform.  So, I'm honestly stumped at what additional 4K improvements could be made outside of just pure performance, or perhaps h.265 support.

Finally, as we all know Yosemite is giving OSX a bit of a visual overhaul, flattening the interface and bringing it more in line with the changes made in iOS7 last year.  Whether, and on what schedule these UI changes could make their way over to Apple's ProApps remains to be seen.

Personally, I'm still hoping upcoming updates see a focus on the use of Roles in both Project organization and enhancing FCP X's audio toolset.

Anyways, on to the numbers!

Apple has released 5 feature updates since Final Cut Pro X was released in June 2011.  Here they are with the day intervals since the previous launch.

10.0.0-10.0.1 91 DAYS
10.0.2-10.0.3 76 DAYS
10.0.5-10.0.6 134 DAYS
10.0.9-10.1.0 148 DAYS
10.1.1-10.1.2 162 DAYS

Feature updates have generally been getting further apart since the heady, early days of Final Cut Pro X development.  Perhaps that means the "urgency" around getting updates out the door has died down, since many of the early Final Cut Pro X functional stumbling blocks have now been addressed.  Or it could mean that the upcoming functional improvements are bigger than those released in early days. Especially if the FCP X development team are having to go through the process of rethinking how "feature-x" works in the new paradigm. Either way, there's a fairly broad range of dates to look at here. If we average these intervals out, the mean is 122 days, or about 4 months.

Once again, I've mapped each of the update intervals on the graphic, showing how they land on the calendar if we take the release of 10.1.3 as the starting point.

click to enlarge
*updated November 25th

So as you can see, the most optimistic update schedule for 10.1.4 would be after the release of Yosemite [marked on the chart for late October] in early November, but the truth is we haven't had an update that quick a while. The average is more likely, and more interesting, since it would put it almost on the same date at 10.1 was released last year, December 19.  I'm not seeing that as a prediction– that's just where the average falls.

If we're being pessimistic [or is that realistic?], then we might not see another feature update all this year– if 10.1.4 takes as long as 10.1.2, then it will be almost February 2015 before it comes along.

Or as I said, 10.1.4 could be a second maintenance for this year, and reset the clock again for what would most probably be an early 2015 10.1.5 future update.