Adobe: purveyor of world-recogned photo editing options: some for desktop, some for mobile, and some that enable cross-over between devices, such as Photoshop Touch and Photoshop, via the Creative Cloud. That was all well and good, but what about Lightroom? When would that be available on a tablet as well as a desktop, people were wondering. What was taking so long? As of today, that wait for a mobile version of Lightroom is over. But is the Lightroom that people were expecting? For a start, it's Lightroom for iPad. There's no alternative tablet offering. You need to be using at least an iPad 2 running iOS 7 to make use of it.
Second, it isn't so much Lightroom for iPad, but Lightroom for desktop with an iPad outpost. As Adobe puts it, it's a companion app. Whatever you do on your iPad will always come back to your desktop Lightroom catalogue via the Cloud. For the majority of Lightroom users who want mobile access (and are iOS-based) this is probably how they envisioned using Lightroom mobile, as something that works in tandem with their desktop version: a manoeuvrable dinghy tethered to much bigger-engined boat. However, anyone who might have been expecting a stand-alone app independent of the desktop, however hollowed-out that might have needed to be, will be disappointed.
I'm not sure that the full fire-power of Lightroom would function on a tablet without being scaled down and refined in some way (and indeed Lightroom Mobile is a limited version of Lightroom), and making those types of sacrifices to functionality is possibly not something that Adobe wishes to contemplate or existing users would accept without having full-scale back-up, hence this iteration. Are Lightroom users the mobile-only type? Yet, I do feel as if there's a degree of reluctance to embrace a truly mobile experience on Abobe's part. The Creative Cloud is there when Adobe wishes to take advantage of it and lock users into a subscription, but not necessarily to put users' interests first and give them a workable and truly mobile-only editing option in a world that's increasingly portable.
Amongst other things, Lightroom mobile will allow users to:
- Sync mobile edits, metadata and collection changes back to the Lightroom catalogue on a Mac or Windows computer
- Automatically import images captured on an iPad and sync back to a Lightroom catalogue on the desktop
- Work on images, even when the iPad is offline, for a truly portable experience
- Sync photos between Lightroom 5 and Lightroom mobile; synced photos can also be viewed from any Web browser
And finally, the synchronisation-based architecture means that the mobile version of Lightroom is only available if you subscribe to the Creative Cloud. That means if you want the option to edit on your iPad, you need to shell out either £8.78 ($9.99) for the monthly photography subscription, or whatever Creative Cloud package takes your fancy. There's no option for stand-alone Lightroom users.
I'm not an iPad-user so there's no decision for me to make here, but I would be interested to know if you think that this version of Lightroom Mobile fulfils your needs, or if you think that Adobe has missed a trick.