Lightroom Mobile for iOS gains tools, while Android app gets more 'Android-y'

Peter Ksinan / 123RF

Lightroom Mobile pares down the desktop editor’s features for mobile devices, but now the app is borrowing more features from the full-fledged desktop version. iOS users can now edit only a portion of the image using the paintbrush tool and the touch interface. Android users will have to wait for the feature, but will still want to download the Lightroom Mobile update with a redesign that Adobe says is faster, more efficient, and more “Android-y.” Adobe launched both updates on Tuesday.

The selective brush allows Lightroom’s tools to be applied to only a specific portion of the image. While the feature has long been a part of the desktop editor, iOS users now have access to the tool on mobile for the first time. On the app designed for mobile, the paintbrush can select portions of the image using the touchscreen.

Devices with 3D Touch, including all iPhones since the iPhone 6s, allows the user to vary the effect just by changing the pressure on the screen. The iPad version also now supports Apple Pencil with similar pressure-sensitive effects.

lightroom mobile update selective brush for ios new ipad interface

The new-to-mobile tool allows users to mask out objects of pretty much any shape to apply effects. The tool also brings more options to the app’s existing but less specific mask tools. The linear and radial gradients that applied effects based on a shape were added in earlier versions, but those effects can now be fine-tuned, using the brush tool to erase the gradient from portions of the image. For example, the linear gradient is a popular tool for creating more dramatic skies — and now with the erase brush, it’s okay if there’s a tree branch jutting up into that sky because the user can paint over the branch to exclude it from the effect.

The iOS update also brings the “Details” tab from the desktop version into the mobile options. Like on the desktop version, the new Details section inside Lightroom Mobile gives photographers control over sharpness, as well as adding noise reduction tools.

The tablet version of the program also sees several adjustments — Adobe says the latest iPad version is designed to take advantage of the iPad Pro 2’s hardware that creates a much narrower gap between the iPad and the MacBook.

The latest Lightroom Mobile update for Android is less about adding new features — and more about redesigning the entire program for a better experience. Adobe says the app was redesigned from the ground up for more speed and better performance. The user interface was also redesigned for a more natural experience, the developer says.

Adobe made Lightroom Mobile a free app back in 2015, though several of the program’s more advanced features requires a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, including wireless syncing between desktop and mobile. Both the iPhone and iPad versions are now up to version 2.8.0 while the July 18 Android update sits at version 3.0.