For as many image editing and organizing apps as we've seen on iOS, none has come close to rivaling what you can do on your computer. Until now. Adobe Lightroom, long the gold standard for desktop digital image workflow, now brings its core capabilities to iOS in a companion app, Lightroom mobile 1.0 for iPad (and soon iPhone). In so doing, Adobe successfully reimagines Lightroom for touch. But as this 1.0 version shows, Lightroom mobile has much room to grow, both in features and in resolving first version hiccups.
The Lightroom mobile app itself is free. To use it, you'll need the latest version of Adobe's $149 Lightroom software, updated to version 5.4 to provide support for Lightroom mobile. (Adobe Creative Cloud users also have access to Lightroom.)
Getting started with Lightroom mobile is simple enough. I downloaded the app from Apple's App store, and signed in using my Creative Cloud account. Meanwhile, on my laptop, I updated Lightroom to 5.4, then followed the prompt at the upper left to get started with Lightroom mobile. Tap the arrow, and it reveals a pop-up menu for signing in. Pay close attention to this area, since when you're signed in, your Creative Cloud account name appears at the top; this will be your only cue that you're signed in, as you'll get no warning when you've been signed out by the system.
How it works
Adobe uses the cloud as the intermediary to transfer images between Lightroom on the desktop and Lightroom mobile. Lightroom mobile is its own self-contained environment for syncing images from your Lightroom catalog with your iPad. You can also edit images imported from your camera roll, and send them back to your desktop.
This process doesn't use Adobe's Creative Cloud, but rather a separate Lightroom cloud infrastructure that enables you to sync as many images as you want without impacting your 20GB of Creative Cloud storage. Adobe says there's a natural limit, though, based on the iPad's maximum available storage: A 128GB iPad can hold up to 60,000 images, according to Adobe. You'll need to first add your images to a collection on your desktop Lightroom; then, click a tiny Sync button to the left of the collection's name to send that collection to your iPad.
Editing and organizing magic
The magic that is Lightroom mobile is that you can edit your collections on the fly, and changes will be visible back on your desktop once you sync again (or in near real-time if you're connected). Collections appear stacked on top of each other, with the most recently changed one at top. Tap on the three dots in the lower right corner to reveal available actions for that collection: Add images to it from your camera roll manually or automatically, enable offline editing, rename collection, or remove collection. You can also add new collections on the device, be it for importing images from the camera roll or for reorganizing images from existing collections.
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