Rob Schoeben, VP of Applications Marketing, introduces Aperture at the Apple press event in NYC. Photo courtesy of Scott Sheppard - Inside Mac Media, Inc.
In a nutshell, Aperture is designed to make your Raw workflow as painless as managing Jpegs. The engineering team has spent almost two years researching how photographers like to work and what's most important to them in post production. The design team took what they learned, combined it with the power of Tiger, and created Aperture.
This isn't iPhoto. It will cost you $499. For pros, it's justifiable because at $100 an hour in time savings, you get your money back quickly. To really appreciate this app, you have to see it operating on two side-by-side 30" displays. (Today's hardware announcements are in concert with Aperture and Final Cut Studio.) This is particularly helpful when you're culling images -- placing them side by side at 100 percent -- trying to quickly determine which are the best.
On the downside, the hardware requirements are pretty steep for this application. If you have an old Mac... forget it!