Ever since it was released last week, I’ve been playing around with the new version of Lightroom mobile which now supports the iPhone. When Lightroom mobile was announced for iPad a while ago, I played around with it for a while but to be honest, it seemed like a nice technology demonstration but I couldn’t see myself using it. It took so long to sync images, that I would do any possible edits or rating on my computer before the images would even get to my iPad. Don’t get me wrong, I like what Adobe has done with the app, and I’m sure there are people putting it to great use out there, but it’s not something I would use. The iPhone version on the other hand is a whole different story.
The big difference is that I regularly use my iPhone to take pictures. Having a version of Lightroom on the iPhone kills two birds with one stone. Firstly it lets me edit my iPhone images with the powerful editing functions of Lightroom right on the device I took the images with. More importantly though, it is a handy and quick way to wirelessly get my images right into Lightroom without any cables or copying or anything else. This alone is worth it.
In terms of the App itself it’s very nicely designed. I have to admire the fact that the designers managed to creatively get a set of relatively complex controls onto a small screen and still keep the usability. Sometimes I did find some aspects of the UI confusing though. A lot of the controls are gesture based and it’s not immediately obvious where they are. For example, I didn’t set up the settings to automatically import from the camera roll when I first ran the app, and it took me ages of swiping and tapping to get the option back. I still can’t be completely sure as to how I got option eventually set.
There are some nice things though that you eventually discover wile tapping around. You can double tap to see the files info and double tap again to see the histogram. Some of the way the controls work are a bit odd though. For example, there’s no direct control over the vignettes or the grain features of Lightroom, yet the grain and vignette functionality are there. You can activate them through the supplied presets which have settings for grain and vignette, which will apply these effects to your image, but there’s no direct way to control them.
To get your iPhone images into the App in the first place you can manually import them or set it to auto import into a selected collection. Once you set this up Lightroom will import any new images from your camera roll and sync them with Creative Cloud. Once you have your desktop version of Lightroom setup to sync your images will arrive onto your computer after they bounce across to Adobe’s servers. This only seems to work while the App is open and active. It doesn’t seem to continue importing or syncing as a background process which is a shame. One thing I almost forgot to mention is that any edits you make are synced non-destructively. When you go to the image in Lightroom on your computer, you will see the image with the corresponding sliders moved, and you can keep making edits or discard them altogether. Whatever edits you make will (or at least should) sync back to the iPhone version.
Overall it’s a great App and it works really well. Having a version of Lightroom on your phone is great because it’s a really good image editor but the ability to automatically sync your photos with your non-destructive edits right into Lightroom is fantastic. There are some things that I would like to see happen in the future. For one, you can’t sync with more than one Lightroom library at the moment, which means you can’t have your iPhone images sync to both a laptop and desktop which is a shame. This got me thinking: how great would it be if Adobe used this technology to be able to sync between a desktop and a laptop. then you could use the full set of controls in the normal version of Lightroom for all your editing and rating and have them sync back to your main library without having to do any copying and moving of catalogues. If you’re listening Adobe…. :-)
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