updated 01:18 am EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
Requires both latest desktop version and Creative Cloud subscription
In a surprise debut on Monday, Adobe took the wraps of its briefly-leaked Lightroom Mobile for iPad, a mobile version of its desktop software intended as a companion app to the full version for desktops and notebooks. As such, it requires both the latest version of Lightroom 5 (which was also updated earlier today to v5.4) for Mac or Windows, and a subscription to Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription service in order to use the free application. The program uses syncing and lower-rez thumbnails to get around the problem of the iPad's limited storage.
The full Lightroom is often used by professional photographers and serious hobbyists to catalog, enhance and touch up images, including sizable RAW files and medium-format camera files. Consequently, Lightroom Mobile for iPad uses Adobe's Smart Preview technology to create smaller previews of large files, syncing changes made to the mobile versions back to the full-size files using Adobe's servers.
The app can utilize the built-in cameras on the iPad directly, but saves a copy both to Camera Roll as required as well as its own vault for syncing. It can import from the Camera Roll as well, but with the same copying technique, which might eat up space on an iPad over time. Users can also choose which existing Lightroom images from their desktop should be synced to the mobile version, with updates on either system synced to the other.
The iPad version has a self-management feature to prevent users from accidentally filling up the iPad's available storage, and lets users manually remove images if desired to free up space. The app's interface has been modified for touchscreen use, and thus does not include all the features of the full Lightroom, particularly areas where a mouse or drawing tablet would provide greater precision.
At present, the mobile app includes only essential features, and Adobe acknowledges that updates will add in other features present on the desktop version, such as full tagging. It also mentioned that an iPhone version is in the works, which is expected before the end of the year; an Android version may also be in development, but no timeframe for it was announced.
As expected, Lightroom Mobile can share images directly to social networks, upload them to a web interface, and create slideshows of images for easy in-person sharing, either using the tablet as a display, or AirDrop, or AirPlay to throw them onto an HDTV. Lightroom Mobile for iPad requires iOS 7 and an iPad 2 or later, along with the previously-mentioned Creative Cloud subscription and freshly-updated Lightroom. Adobe is currently continuing a promotion that gives users the latest Photoshop CC and Lightroom along with other benefits of the Creative Cloud program for $10 per month, billed monthly on an annual basis.