Of Lightroom, iPads, and muffins

When asking customers about possible Adobe tablet apps, I’m reminded of the experience of trying to get our toddler to count bites of dinner en route to a chocolate muffin:

Mom: “Okay, what number comes before six?”

Finn: “Muffin!”

Mom: “Five…then what’s next? Not three but…”

Finn: “Muffin!”

It’s like this:

Me: “So, we’re thinking of building app X…

Everyone: “Lightroom!”

Me: “Yes, cool, we hear you. But back to X…”

Everyone: “Lightroom!”

Me: “Right, I know, but…”

Everyone: “Lightroom!”

I find this kind of charming and encouraging. Building a great iPad app for mobile photo review, editing, and sharing is (presently) tougher than one might think, but customer desire is very clear. (Feedback about non-LR/photography workflow apps is welcome, too.)

45 thoughts on “Of Lightroom, iPads, and muffins

  1. In my little (maybe not-so-little) world of portrait and wedding photographers, we ALL want to be able to do proofing with the iPad. Not processing. Not editing. Not web site building. Not printing. Just something that will let us show work to clients…. compare images side-by-side…. keep track of selections. Lots of opportunities for additional bells and whistles, but just those few things would be amazing (and would probably sell a bazillion apps, not to mention iPads).

  2. I to am not currently looking to edit my photo’s on the ipad. I would however like to be able to tag and rate them. Sort into collections maybe. Then when in range of the computer either wirelessly or wired sync it with lightroom and edit from there. Maybe offer a basic lightroom import that works from the camera connection kit thingy apple makes.
    [AFAIK Apple doesn’t presently allow other apps to interface with the camera connection kit. Import has to be handled by the Photos app. –J.]

  3. I’d like to see an Adobe-branded device – not an iPad but an OEM Dell or HP or whatever with Adobe and the powerful *Photoshop* Lightroom very prominently displayed. Photoshop is your powerful symbol that this is a device for photographers. Its main focus should be on passing the images to cloud storage and securing their physical existence, and then any rating or proofing is done against the cloud version.

  4. As a very happy owner/user of both iPad and Lightroom, I don’t really see Lightroom on the iPad (or, more generally, a tablet) as my killer app.
    I use Lightroom in a way that takes advantage of the enormous horsepower a workstation can bring to bear, as well as the massive storage available via today’s hard drive (and NAS) technology.
    Lightroom is brilliant at leveraging both those capacities as well as doing an awesome job of allowing me to manage and manipulate all the metadata, including the special sauce of providing specialized image enhancements like the new noise reduction and lens distortion stuff (though they also leverage off the CPU capacity and metadata manipulation stuff).
    What I could see is some sort of software which was essentially a pre-Lightroom staging area. If I could tether the camera to a tablet and work with an app that provided camera controls and preview prior to the shot, and image evaluation, classification and organization after the shot, with an ability to squirt everything directly into Lightroom, that would be a killer app for me.
    If you really wanted to have LR on a tablet, though, rather than trying to shoe-horn it there, just give me a client/server thing where I could access and control Lightroom wirelessly from the iPad. I could use that, too, though less so than having a dashboard to manage an off-site shoot.

  5. I also wouldn’t want to do Develop stuff on the little screen. A LR DAM would be great — tagging, sorting etc.
    As far as syncing images from the desktop version, Evernote lets me sync “notes” — which can be photos.

  6. Really, an iPad app is unnecessary. Hell, an app that is touch compatible with the HP TouchSmart series or any touchscreen monitor would be nice. Because on there I can maybe actually do something …
    I guess Adobe is free to do as they please, but customer desire is for more powerful apps on powerful platforms. OSX and Windows.

  7. Maybe we start with a updated version of Photoshop mobile for iPad. Add some paint tools. Or for retro sake..just port over PS 1!

  8. “tougher than one might think, ”
    Would it be easier on a windows on linux based tablet?
    [Presumably it would already just work on a Windows-based tablet, as LR already runs on Windows. –J.]
    I ask because a number of people in my area plan on buying dozens of android based iPad look-a-likes in the next 12-18 months.

  9. The iPad is a nice platform but at the moment it is a reading device. As it grows I would like to see Lr and other apps in there.

  10. I figured Adobe was on this, but SO glad to hear you say it.
    On my last photo trip to East Africa, I had to lug my 17″ MBP. Great to have full LR there, but enormous weight (one has enough baggage there as it is) and I was worried about theft. I have been thinking often: how can I do this with our iPad?
    My idea (feel free to steal it): shoot RAW+JPG. I plug it in, it scans the card. Medium-res versions are generated. I tag, rate, make basic adjustments. These are saved as XMP back to the card. I eject, clone the card perhaps, maybe even push the XMP+low-res JPG to a cloud (Dropbox API anyone?).
    When I return home, I insert the card, ingest RAW+XMP into Lightroom: MAGIC!
    Then I saw your response, re:iphoto. Hmm. Private APIs anyone..? πŸ˜‰
    [Apple folks must clearly see the opportunity represented by making iPads into capable photo review machines, so I’m hoping they open up the APIs sufficiently to support the kinds of data exchange you’re describing. –J.]

    1. Allan, your suggestion sounds intriguing. But you said, …” tag, rate, make basic adjustments. These are saved as XMP back to the card.” you do this editing WHERE? on the iPad? In what program?

  11. Not sure an iPad app in itself is all that useful. What Adobe products lack is real time collaboration
    [Not necessarily. –J.]
    – e.g. sharing Lightroom view with other people across a network so that you can view, rate images, select and discuss together. Especially if the other party can do it through a web application without needing a special application. Obviously, it could be an iPad app, but the big issue to be solved is how to collaborate at distance in real time with colour managed workflow with a corresponding party may are may not have colour managed environment.

  12. Do you think developing for Mac/Cs and mobile is an either/or proposition? It must be both/and.
    Given the right software, iOS (and Android) devices can be used for content creation. I do not understand the “just for consumption” view of these tiny, powerful computing platforms.

  13. This is off-topic, but as we weigh a LR purchase for our team, this issue is front of mind. I have lots of concerns about collaboration and metadata sync.

  14. Here’s hoping the iOS4 release this Autumn will allow apps to talk to the CKK more. Walker’s open letter is disheartening.
    One of his objections – insufficient RAM to load an entire large image, a valid one – might be overcome by creating proxies: load, say, every tenth pixel. Maybe impossible, who knows.
    I guess we’ll all be waiting a while. =P

  15. Many thanks – Forgot screen share was in Photoshop. Requires Flash…will it work with someone using Apple?
    [Well, it *used* to work via the native Adobe Connect app one could get on the iPhone. Because that was transcoded from Flash to native code, however, it now runs afoul of Apple’s later restrictions, so I don’t know whether it remains available in the App Store. If it’s gone I’d expect it to re-emerge–no better and no worse, just having consumed a bunch of time to rewrite. –J.]

  16. Never new that app existed, John. Just downloaded and installed it on my iPhone, so whether that’s the original or a rewrite, it is available at the moment – thanks πŸ™‚

  17. The best app would be a lightroom vompanion app. Something the ipad over the network would talk to your lightroom copy on the pc or Mac. It woulnpd then be ideal for tagging and rating. But can see even used for doing things like Geo tagging, or chaining meta data like titles. Almostmall no editing functions can see being possible.

  18. I can’t for the life of me see at this point how Lightroom would be usable on an iPad (or any kind of pad device).
    What I WOULD like, is to wirelessly control my Canon 5D Mark II at work when it’s on a Microscope so that I can trigger either stills or video. A super tethering app I guess with all the controls, live preview, etc. but lets me add metadata to the photos on the fly. Maybe through voice recognition?

  19. I would love an app for Lightroom, but exactly how it should work am I unsure of. But this is what I would like:
    – Tagging and rating photos/videos
    – Serching/filtering photos/viodeos
    – View slideshow (with option for including metadata, and of course TV/VGA output)
    I do not need to edit photos, at least not in the first version.
    Further I am unsure of how this app should work with my library, but for myself it could work directly with my library on my computer (today I use remote desktop to access Lightroom from iPad), but I don’t think this is the best solution for the masses.
    How about the app syncs with Lightroom over WIFI. I can add photos offline on the iPad, and when connected to my home network it adds the photos to my Lightroom catalog on my computer. I would also need that some photos was availiable on iPad offline (in reduced quality?), mayby all that are rated of flagged a chosen way.
    That was just my whishes, and for an application like this I would gladly pay at lest $50 πŸ™‚

  20. Photo Mechanic’s open letter about what can and can’t be done on an iPad clearly outlines the difficulties you and others face, but it’s clear to me from what I see in my In Box and talking with other photographers that the PM/Lightroom ingest/rate kind of application would be popular on an iPad.
    The problems, though, are that to really attract us, a lot of issues need to be dealt with. My guess is that unless Apple opens up the API, the only way you can deal with them is to aggregate the data in a “file” of your own and have a PC/Mac application (or Lightroom itself) that reintegrates that data (filenaming, rating, deletions, keywording, etc.). What we DON’T want to do is just use an iPad app to weed out shots we won’t ingest. What we DO want is that things we do at ingest (rename, keyword, IPTC data entry) are handled and remembered, and things that we do after ingest (rate, delete, perhaps more keywording), are remembered as well. It doesn’t really save us time and energy in the workflow if we do two ingest steps. Basically, you have to get it down to 1.5 steps or less (iPad ingest, rename, tag, rate plus AUTOMATED Lightroom final ingest when iPad is docked to the computer).

  21. Whatever the magical app may offer.
    I think you have a name for it. “Adobe Muffin”, Adobe iMuffin, Adobe Photoshop Muffin for Tablets.
    I keep thinking an iPad app that I would turn to might be something like Preview for Mac OS, On Mac OS there are a few routes to quick viewing, Preview, Quick Look, etc. Adobe Reader won’t open a psd, or tiff file. So some type of Simple utility that I can rely on (turn to) to cover an array of simple tasks. Cater this to as many Adobe App file formats as possible. Page Layout, Illustrator, Photoshop, Video, Audio. Then make it totally cool by allowing viewing of Photoshop Layers from psd and tif files. If there would be a way for Photoshop (for example) to serve up a 1/8 or 1/4 resolution version of a file stored locally on a desktop machine, or even from an open document in Photoshop, etc. So maybe there is a server side app that need to be running on the desktop. Perhaps some of this communication could happen via the embedded WebKit in Adobe Apps.
    Also add in to compile this info, images, documents, and provide an output presentation of sorts perhaps creating a url to a web document.
    “Adobe Super Muffin” or “Adobe Supper Muffin”, and of course the server side app has to be “Adobe Oven”.

  22. Hey John the whole Lightroom for tablets thing is all Adobe’s fault. 100% of it.
    If you hadn’t made Lightroom what it is then no one would want it on their tablet.
    With great success comes requests for that success on the hardware they use most.

  23. Why would you want to use lightroom on an underpowered piece of junk like an ipad???
    Let’s run lightroom on our cell phones next!

  24. I dont need Lightroom on the iPad but I would like a portfolio app. something that could show PDF, JPEG, and URLs

  25. Why do you say the iPad is underpowered?
    I’m guessing that you haven’t tried one. It has all the CPU speed that you need and as many have pointed out above the suggested iPad app would not need to process the Raw files. It could read in JPGs and allow for comparison of thumbnails and then preview of selected shots. These could be tagged for later processing on a “fully powered” computer.
    Too many people entirely miss the point of the iPad. It is a great tool for previews and interaction with people.

  26. I’m not a professional photographer but I can easily imagine using an iPad as a display to pass to a client for them to interact with previews and add comments and make selections.
    Why do folk get so tetchy about a new class of device? Forget all the recent tension between Adobe and Apple. That will blow over.
    I think the new kind of device elicits a fear response. Isn’t that bizarre?

  27. I would love to be able to organize all my photo’s, and rate them on my Ipad, that would be great! I would love to distract myself on my Ipad while I’m waiting in line at the DMV

  28. You have some great thoughts here. The main limitation I see is that iPads (maxing out at 32GB) just aren’t going to have enough local storage to contain an entire shoot, much less a multi-day trip.
    Ergo, keeping the image data on the cards (with perhaps minimal previews on the device) makes the most sense in that scenario.

  29. Well put. I just want basic editing features in a mobile tablet (I suppose an iPhone 4 display would work, too) so I can do some very basic stuff in the field – and benefit from that later when the trip ends. I’m tired of lugging the 17″ MacBook Pro around.
    And netbooks suck.

  30. I would be THRILLED to have an iPad Lightroom app. I plan to travel with only my iPad for most business and pleasure trips, but will still need my computer when I travel and am photographing seriously… because I depend so much on Lightroom. If I could download and do the preliminary identifying and selecting in Library, and some basic developing, I could take only my iPad and it would be wonderful.

  31. I’d like to echo Gille’s comment early in this thread. If you guys could figure out a way for this LR for iPad app to tether to my camera and allow me to simply rate my images, add keywords and organize them into folders/collections and then delete the ones I don’t want to keep, you’ve hit a sweet spot that leverages what the iPad does well. Perhaps even more importantly, it DOESN’T take you down a path that forces you to try to figure out how to do processor and memory-intensive tasks on the iPad. Doing this would result in a really helpful complement to a portion of LR rather than create a watered-down version of the entire app. Here’s one guy rooting for you to figure out a way to pull this off, because LR rocks! πŸ™‚

  32. Just want to put in my .02 for the LR iPad app.
    As many others I would not want to try and edit anything.
    I also dont expect to even load RAW files or full rez files, only previews.
    I would like to be able to keyword, rate, compare, organize. Then, after the full rez or raw files are imported to the big computer, import the catalog/meta data from the ipad to apply all my kewords/ratings etc.
    Shooting Tethered if only to use the iPad as a preview would be awesome! If the iPad could store the files from the camera to a network drive over wifi, that would be even sweeter.

  33. Greg Hiest summed it up well.
    On another note, I want to get my mom, not a pro, some kind of photo organizing software. Do you know of any software that has Lightroom’s tagging and rating abilities and that’s it? I hate picassa by the way due to the way it lists your subfolders all together regardless of parent folder name/relationship.
    So a low-end consumer-based easy to use, photo organizer .. anyone? thanks!
    P.S. I found this but it may be too feature-rich for her:

  34. Tethered shooting! Why?
    Wifi transmitter for the camera that uploads the photos directly to the iPad.
    Tag, edit it and upload it as you go (your assistant next to you can do it). Or even upload it automatically as you shoot.
    You can have the photos sent to the newsdesk almost live.

  35. I pretty much agree with everyone else. It would rock to be able to import and rate while on the road, or to be able to show clients and be able to choose the photos they like directly after a shoot

  36. I want on screen proofing, but also minor adjustments, perhaps only presets? But no printing, no websites. Tagging, and other catalog functions would be nice. It doesn’t have to be a complete LR catalog either, but a small object intended for importing into a real catalog.

  37. My wish list for Lr Mobile would be the following as I shoot in RAW+JPG
    1) Compatible to support wireless transfer of at least JPG from an eyeFi cards.
    2) Support of catalogue sync with Flags, Ratings and meta data.
    3) It would be nice if I could edit RAW images with: –
    + White Balance + Exposure + Contrast + Saturation + Clarity + Compare
    4) With shooting in RAW+JPG it would be great if you could make adjustment to the +jpg images. This should ease up the processing power and storage requirements on the tablet. When the duplicate RAW files are imported on my main desktop all settings can be synced from the +jpg’s and applied to the RAW files.
    5)I want a muffin!!

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