Category Archives: Computers

Truecaller brings universal caller ID to iOS through a workaround

Truecaller, the Swedish reverse-lookup phone directory, has expanded its Live Caller ID feature to its iOS app, allowing users to quickly look up unknown numbers from the home screen, the company announced on Tuesday.

While Truecaller’s Live Caller ID feature has been available on Android since 2010, it’s much more difficult to integrate on iOS because Apple’s platform does not let apps intercept calls. This means Truecaller had to find a workaround, but it’s a fairly innocuous one: When you receive a phone call from a number you don’t recognize, you simply take a screenshot of the call. Truecaller references that screenshot against its database of phone numbers, and then Siri reads out the name.

The demo video is short and sweet:

Speaking to TechCrunch, Truecaller CEO Alan Mamedi expressed a hope that Truecaller could gain access to Apple’s calling APIs in the future, to make the process a little less kludgy. While that seems unlikely, there’s no denying that the company has some momentum recently: it raised nearly $ 19 million from Sequoia Capital in February, and it wants you to know it’s a big deal in India.

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Apple

Why can Nike dump the Fuelband? With friends like Apple, it doesn’t need its own hardware

If you want to track your fitness with Nike software, you’re probably going to have to use Apple products.

The news that Nike had laid off a majority of its digital sport hardware engineering team last week meant the reported end of Nike’s FuelBand, the oldest of the current generation of wearable fitness trackers. Nike will still be a player in the wearable space, but it will no longer be producing hardware, according to reports from CNET and Recode.

If Nike exits the physical wearable market, as now seems likely, Apple will be the primary sensor maker for Nike’s future wearable apps given the length and depth of the two companies’ close ties. Although there are a handful of Nike apps available for Android, there is no app (on any other mobile platform aside from iOS) that supports Nikefuel, which Nike describes as the “heart of the Nike+ ecosystem.” In many ways, this is the culmination of a process that’s been taking place between the two companies for the better part of a decade: Nike will design the fitness app experience, and the hardware will be made by Apple.

Apple and Nike have a long history

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has been spotted sporting a FuelBand, sits on Nike’s board of directors. Nike has had partnerships with other innovative tech companies in the past, releasing a Nike+ Kinect game with Microsoft in 2012, and a GPS watch with TomTom in 2011. TomTom currently makes its own GPS watches, and the public face for Nike+ Kinect, Jay Blahnik, now works for Apple.

Apple CEO Tim Cook looks on, wearing a Nike Fuelband, before the Apple Store opens to sell the new iPhone on September 20, 2013 in Palo Alto, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple CEO Tim Cook looks on, wearing a Nike Fuelband, before the Apple Store opens to sell the new iPhone on September 20, 2013 in Palo Alto, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Nike is an important partner for Apple. The iPhone 5S includes an advanced motion coprocessor, the M7, which allows fitness apps to track motion without turning on the full power of the main processor. At the iPhone 5S announcement, the demo app was Nike+ Move, which is almost identical to the Nike+ FuelBand app but does not require an external wearable sensor. Currently, Nike+ Move is available only for the iPhone 5S.

Nike’s first foray into the digital activity tracker market was a product called Nike+iPod, released in 2006. That consisted of a piezoelectric sensor that tucked into a shoe and a dongle that attached to an iPod nano, and the software was eventually expanded to include the 2nd generation iPod Touch and iPhone 3GS. Eventually, Apple integrated enough sensor capabilities into the iOS platform so that the separate dongle was no longer needed. Now there are seven different apps available on the App Store which include the Nike+ brand. Only one now requires separate hardware — Nike+ FuelBand.

There is still no NikeFuel app for Android. In previous statements, Nike has said there isn’t an Android app in development. And while Nike hasn’t ruled it out, it seems unlikely. If Nike wants to stop the fragmentation of its sensors, there is no easier way to do that than to make Apple products the preferred hardware for the platform. In fact, this is Apple’s advantage over other handset makers — because there are so few iPhone models, there is no need to finely calibrate sensor readings for a multitude of devices.

Nike’s platform, built on top of Apple’s platform

Nike’s expressed plan is to make its Fuel fitness tracking system into a platform for other developers on which to build applications. This makes sense — hardware is difficult and expensive, and requires specific engineering expertise and supply chain mastery in order to produce decent margins. Other companies may have good hardware or data expertise, but are unlikely to grab the attention of the toned and tan. Fitness trackers are bought with high hopes, but many end up forgotten after a few weeks, like a diet.

Nike CEO Mark Parker and Apple CEO Steve Jobs during the May23, 2006 unveiling of a partnership between Nike and Apple. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/WireImage

Nike CEO Mark Parker and Apple CEO Steve Jobs during the May23, 2006 unveiling of a partnership between Nike and Apple. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/WireImage

While Nike has never released sales data for the FuelBand, a report estimated the entire fitness tracker to be worth $ 330 million in 2013, and the FuelBand only accounted for 10% of brick-and-mortar sales during that period, according to a report from the NPD Group. Nike revenue for the third quarter of 2013 was $ 7 billion, so it appears the FuelBand was not moving the dial. Taking into account research and development costs, it’s possible the FuelBand was a money pit.

But as the world’s largest sportswear designer, Nike already has the attention of fitness fanatics, and knows the exact kind of marketing will best hook athletes into a new product category. It’s that kind of large, committed user base that will compel competitors, like Strava and MyFitnessPal, to build features on top of the Nikefuel API, whereas they may not have considered the FuelBand platform important because there is a limited install base. To better reach potential partners, earlier this month Nike opened up a new tech office in SOMA, the heart of San Francisco’s tech district.

While it might not make competitive sense for some of the smaller fitness apps to team up with Nike, if there’s a large contingent of customers who associate Apple’s fitness features with Nike+, they might not have a choice.

By making Nike hardware and Apple hardware one and the same, Nike not only gains a huge installed user base, but Apple gets a user-facing feature no other handset maker can match: fitness from a world-famous fitness company.

Nike Fuelband close-up. Image from Flickr/Angel Navedo

Nike Fuelband close-up. Image from Flickr/Angel Navedo

Nike’s hardware exit has been a long time coming

Nike executives have been hinting at their plans to get out of the hardware market for some time. Talking to Fast Company earlier this month, Steven Olander, the Nike vice president of digital sport — the department which just lost 80 percent of its staff — said,

When Nike developed the FuelBand SE, people asked if we were becoming a technology company. But that was never the intention. We weren’t so much excited about the thing as what the thing enabled, which is motivating people because they have a way to measure how active they are–we have a saying that you can’t improve what you can’t measure.

Last year, Nike CEO Mark Parker said at a Fast Company conference:

It’s really important to understand what we do well . . . what we bring to the party, so to speak, and actually amplify that and not to expect us to really go in and compete with the latest, greatest development of sensor technology.

Apple’s strength is is making slick, well-engineered hardware that sells well. Now these devices, as a matter of course, have advanced sensor technology built in.

Nike’s strength is making fitness cool. Regardless of whether Apple introduces a wearable product this year, or simply introduces new features like the rumored Healthbook app, Nike’s fitness software will be a big part of it.

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Apple reportedly looks to integrate Shazam into Siri

Apple(appl) is working with Shazam to integrate song identification into an upcoming iOS update, according to a report in Bloomberg.

Shazam’s app, which is available for Android as well as iOS, uses a device’s onboard microphone to record sound and match it against a database, returning the name of the song and artist. If Apple integrates it with iOS, we can expect similar functionality built into Apple services like Siri and iTunes Radio. According to the report, Siri will gain the ability to answer questions like “What song is playing?” Shazam’s app already has excellent iTunes integration — after identifying the song, the most prominent link on screen is to the iTunes store.

Although Shazam was an early iOS hit and has been a featured app on iTunes in the past, it has never been higher than the 13th most downloaded iPhone app. If it were to be integrated into iOS, there would be a good number of users who might discover the addictive ability to identify previously unknown music.

In December, Shazam added automatic TV show and music recognition to its app, which allowed users to keep Shazam running in the background while it identifies songs playing on a stereo or shows on television. Shazam has also tried to position its app as a sort of audio-based QR code reader for television advertising: during the most recent Super Bowl, users could Shazam a Bud Light advertisement and gain access to a limited download of Afrojack’s single “Ten Feet Tall.”

 

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Choosing the best cloud based music app on iOS for your CD music library

Believe it or not, an awful lot of people still buy CDs. When digital music purchases surpassed physical music sales in 2011, one would have thought that the world had forever changed and no-one was buying CDs anymore.

Then it was all about on-demand music services like SpotifyRdioBeats Music and Google Play’s All Access. When it was reported that digital music sales dropped in 2013, many thought this was the beginning of the end of digital music sales. Looking at the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s annual Digital Music Report for 2013, physical format music sales still account for 51 percent of revenue whereas digital revenues, which includes both purchased and on-demand subscriptions, account for only 39 percent worldwide.

So if you happen to be part of the group that is still buying physical CDs, the following guide will show how to manage your music library and review your options for storing your music in the cloud:

Curating your music files

Curating your music files

Digitizing CDs - When preserving the highest quality music possible is important to you, consider using X Lossless Decoder for Mac, or XLD as it is often referred to. XLD supports both FLAC and Apple Lossless formats and has the ability to output a binary CD image with cue sheet. The equivalent on Windows is Exact Audio Copy (EAC), which is also free. Both tools utilize AccurateRip to compare the digitized results of your music files to the output that others have created in order to ensure the most accurate and consistent rip possible.

Improving album information - Sometimes the album information associated with your music files is not what you want it to be. While iTunes for both Mac and Windows can get edit your music information, I have found TuneUp ($ 49.95), which also has a Mac and Windows version, to be a great assistant when cleaning up my music library’s album information.

Finding album art - Cover Scout, for $ 29.99 on Mac, can help you find missing album art as well as upgrade your existing album art to a higher resolution image. On Windows you can use the free version of Album Art Downloader to increase the quality of your music files’ album art.

Renaming music files - Maintaining a sensible structure to your digitized library will make managing your files that much easier. PublicSpace’s A Better Finder Rename ($ 19.95) for both Mac and Windows will allow you to set your own rules to rename your music files based on the embedded album information.

Finding duplicates - It happens to the best of us; when managing thousand of music files, you are bound to have a duplicate song here and there. MacPaw’s Gemini ($ 9.99) for Mac and Hardcodes Software’s dupeGuru Music Edition (Free) for Windows will help locate and eliminate your duplicates.

cloud music players for ios

Choosing which cloud to store your music

Once your CD collection is digitized you will have to choose which cloud based music library to use. The traditional cloud based options include Apple’s iTunes MatchGoogle Play Music, and Amazon Cloud Player. Then there are also personal cloud options like Synology Disk Station Manager’s Audio Station that also allow you to access your digitized music library from anywhere on the internet.

Which one is best? It depends on a few key differences:

Cost of cloud based music storage

Google’s All Access service is the most expensive of the three subscription based services at $ 9.99 each month. All Access is an on-demand service like Spotify, giving you instant access to millions of songs. You do not have to use this service to store your music online. You can still upload 20,000 songs to your Google Play music library, for free.

Cloud Music Comparison

With a relatively small amount of free storage to start out with, Amazon Cloud Player gives you space for only 250 songs for free. Upgrading to the Premium edition for just $ 24.99 a year will let you upload 250,000 songs. Apple on the other hand will only store your iTunes purchases in iCloud for free. Upgrading to iTunes Match for $ 24.99 a year will allow you to upload 25,000 additional songs.

Synology’s Audio Station does not have any subscription pricing nor any limits to the amount of music you can store. You do have to buy the network attached storage device which will cost anywhere from $ 150 for a budget friendly one-bay device, up to $ 600 for a business class four-bay device. You will need to supply your own hard drives when purchasing the diskless versions of each product.

Shopping for and buying music online

Selling only digital music, iTunes has pretty much remained the same since it first opened up back in 2003. The experience has become a bit crowded over the years as Apple has added Movies, TV, Shows, Audio Books, Books, Podcasts, iTunes U and of course Apps to the same simple interface. Like Apple, Google’s Music Store also sells digital music only. On iOS the web-based access you have to go through to buy music from Google is hardly worth the effort.

Amazon does sell both physical CDs as well as digital music. Just like purchases of digital music from Amazon’s MP3 store, any physical CD that you comes with Amazon’s AutoRip feature does not count towards your storage limit. AutoRip is available on certain physical CD purchases through Amazon and will automatically add the MP3 version of your album to your music library before the physical CD even ships.

upload music

Adding music to your library in the cloud

As you add music to your iTunes music library, iTunes Match will scan your music files and attempt to match it to music that Apple already has stored in their catalog. Once matched, Apple will upgrade your music to a higher quality 256kbps version of the song.

Uploading music to your Google Play library is accomplished by downloading and installing Google’s Music Manager app. This app will only allow you to upload and download your music files. Similar to Google, Amazon has its own Amazon Music Importer that you use to upload your music files.

With Synology you can mount the device as a drive on Windows or Mac and just copy your music files over to the music folder on the device. Initial setup is a bit involved, but once you have everything set up, your transfer speeds on your local network will be much faster than your upload speeds over the internet.

 

Mobile music playback experience

Apple of course ships its own iTunes music app with every iOS device that can play music from iTunes Match library. Google has its Google Play Music (Free, iPhone), Amazon has its Amazon Cloud Player (Free, Universal, and Synology has their DS audio (Free, Universal) app.

For the most part, all four music players have very similar capabilities. They can each sort your music by Artist, Album, Song or Genre, they all support Playlists playback, and they all can search for music in your cloud library for you to stream or download. Google is the only one that does not have a native iOS app for the iPad. gMusic 2 ($ 1.99, Universal) can rectify this omission and is a pretty decent replacement for Google’s own iOS music app.

Device free streaming and casting

All four of the iOS apps can stream music directly from the device to either a Bluetooth enable speaker or an Airplay enabled device and they each support playing music in the background. Snology can stream musicdirectly to one or more Airplay, DLNA or Chromecast devices. You can even remotely control your home music system from anywhere on the internet.

With Apple’s Remote app for iTunes, you can play music stored on a computer running iTunes Home Sharingover any Airplay enabled device. In order to stream music directly from a iTunes Match library to an Airplay device, you will need an Apple TV. This is similar to playing your Google Play library directly on Chromecast or your Amazon Cloud library directly on Fire TV.

Use a combination or build your own

For most people, Google’s free storage of 20,000 music files will be more than enough space to store you music library online. When it comes to buying new music, simply use Amazon and buy physical CDs that qualify for AutoRip and upload them to Google Play.

When it comes to playing your music you can always sync your Google or Amazon library and automatically add songs to iTunes on your computer. That way you can take advantage of any Apple TV, Airport Express and any Airplay enabled speakers or audio components you may have.

If you have a really large music library, use either Amazon and store 250,000 songs online, or you buy a Synology device. Just keep in mind how long it will take you to upload 250,000 music files to Amazon. Not only will Synology be faster on the uploads, but its ability to play back on AirPlay, DLNA and Chromecast is a major plus.

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Apple

Nike has reportedly fired most of its FuelBand team and is getting out of the hardware business

Nike has let go most of the members of its FuelBand wearables unit and will stop developing new versions of the device, according to a report by CNET. The tech news site quoted an unnamed person “familiar with the matter” as saying that the firm has laid off 70 to 80 percent of its 70-person hardware division and will not produce a new version of the FuelBand, but will continue to sell the existing version. Some industry observers believe Nike has decided to align itself with Apple, which is expected to launch an iWatch or other wearable device that might run Nike’s Fuel software. Apple CEO Tim Cook is a member of Nike’s board.

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Citymapper raises $10M to help you navigate on buses and trains

Citymapper, a mapping app that specializes in navigating the complexities of public transportation in big cities, has raised a $ 10 million Series A round led by Balderton Capital with participation from Connect Ventures, Index Ventures and Greylock Partners.

The startup launched as Busmapper in its hometown of London back in 2011, but it’s been layering on other transportation options, from subway lines and trams to ferries and even taxis. Citymapper says it wants to be the daily destination app for any city commuter without a car, and it’s featured two prominent buttons in its Android and iPhone apps — “Get me home” and “Get me to work” – designed to help users pick the best multi-modal option in their daily commute.

Citymapper apps

The app has enjoyed a bit of local fame in London — where Citymapper estimates it’s been downloaded on half of the iPhones in the city — but it’s also expanded to Paris, New York and Berlin. The company said that it plans to use its new $ 10 million in capital to expand to new metro areas, though it hasn’t announced any specific cities (here’s hoping Chicago makes the list).

As the mapping and navigation industry matures in the automobile, there’s been a growing focus on way-finding for people outside of the car. Many of the major nav apps have pedestrian options, and some like Google Maps even include public transit in their routes, but a new breed of apps is tailored specifically for the urban dweller who uses every means of city transport apart from an automobile.

Israeli startup Tranzmate is taking a page from Waze’s book, launching an app called Moovit that crowdsources train delay and traffic information from its app users to help pick the best public transit routes through a city. Another Israeli company called Ototo recently launched in the U.S., offering a similar crowdsourced service but with more of a focus on creating a social community around the commute and working with local public transit authorities.

Apple is expected to jump on the bandwagon as well. Last year it bought HotStop, but it has yet to integrate public transit features into Apple Maps, though they’re expected to debut in iOS 8.

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Apple brings low-cost 8 GB iPhone 5c to more countries

Apple expanded availability of the 8 GB iPhone 5c to several new countries on Wednesday. The expansion was first noted by 9to5 Mac, and Mac Rumors reports the low-cost model is now on sale in the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Spain, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Switzerland. While prices vary by location, customers can expect roughly a €50 discount for the 8 GB model as compared to the original 16 GB version.

iPhone5c20131

The lower-cost iPhone 5c with less storage was a bit of a surprise when Apple initially announced it: The company introduced the new model last month, in the middle of a current product cycle. That’s atypical of Apple, which generally keeps iPhone product launches on an annual basis. Early sales data suggested that the iPhone 5s was outselling the iPhone 5c, indicating that Apple may not be earning the results it expected from the new iPhone 5c.

I doubt Apple will ever release sales figures specific to the 8 GB iPhone 5c — the company doesn’t break out data at that level — but I’d love to see the numbers.

My expectation? A lower-priced iPhone 5c with a meager 8 GB of storage isn’t bringing a large sales bump for the company. The limited storage certainly isn’t appealing unless you’re getting a large discount on the phone as compared to the 16 GB model. And in some countries, you’re not getting a discount at all according to one Mac Rumors commenter who says: “its hilarious cuz[sic] they introduced the 8GB one for 499€ here in Germany while every big store chain is selling the 16GB one for 489€.”

The timing of this product revision is taking place at a bad time. Until this year’s model, iPhones haven’t been sold at a discount by retailers — they kept prices the same as Apple’s own store. With the latest iteration, however, policies changed, allowing retailers to offer the phones at lower prices if they chose to do so. As a result, Apple’s offering of a discounted 8 GB iPhone 5c is competing with the newly discounted other models, making the product less desirable by comparison.

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Windows Phone 8.1 works with Apple Passbook data (but for how long?)

Although I covered many of the newest features of Windows Phone 8.1 in my review earlier today, I apparently missed one. In my defense, Microsoft hasn’t announced it. It’s only because of The Verge’s Tom Warren that we know about Windows Phone 8.1 working with Apple’s Passbook files. Warren tweeted out the following on Monday morning, showing that he has a boarding pass in his phone’s Microsoft Wallet app.

iMore’s Rene Ritchie expanded on the topic, suggesting that Microsoft is using Apple’s Passbook file format to create the files in Windows Phone 8.1. That’s likely true because it’s pretty easy to find the Passbook data file structure: A quick web search turned up all of the information, including a detailed PDF file, needed to build a specific Passbook file for a boarding pass, coupon, or loyalty code. Ritchie said that Apple code-signs the files, so it’s not clear how Microsoft is dealing with this aspect, possibly just accepting any files in Wallet whether they’re signed or not.

Regardless of whether Microsoft’s implementation is simply a test or not — Windows Phone 8.1 is in developer preview — there have already been Android apps that do the same. Passbook for Android reads .pkpass files, which are zipped Passbook data bits, to do exactly the same thing. And it’s not the only one available for Android.

I’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment to see if using Apple’s Passbook file structure is a long-term strategy for Windows Phone or if this is just a one-off test in the developer preview, and will update this post accordingly with any response.

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Why carry a big power brick when you can tote the world’s smallest laptop adapter?

It’s not unheard of for a laptop review to ding the product for a surprising reason: A bulky power adapter. What’s the point of carrying a light slim laptop if you also have to tote a near-brick sized power adapter for it? A new Kickstarter project aims to rid laptops of their bulky bricks: Enter the Dart, touted as the world’s smallest laptop power adapter.

Dart is shockingly small but provides 65 watts of power to a connected laptop. That’s plenty of juice for most notebook computers although you’ll have to pay more for Dart if you use an Apple laptop because of the magnetic power connectors on newer MacBooks. How small and light is the Dart? When I first saw a picture of it, I thought it was meant for charging phones or tablets. Here’s a video showing a closer look at the Dart:

The obvious question is how can something so small convert enough power for a laptop? According to the project team, the secret sauce is the Dart’s very high frequency (VHF) power conversion.

“It is well known in power electronics that increasing switching frequency is key to reducing size, weight, and cost. However, it is critical (and very hard) to switch faster while maintaining high efficiency. This is because modern power converters repeatedly deliver small packets of energy to the electronic device in cycles called switching cycles. Switching isn’t a perfect process and during every cycle some energy is wasted in the form of heat. At FINsix, our technology allows us to waste far less energy with each cycle. Thus, we can cycle up to 1000x faster without wasting any more energy than a conventional power converter. Cycling faster means we can transfer a smaller packet of energy to each cycle – and make the power converter a lot smaller.”

Aside from powering most laptops with such a small converter, the Dart can also pull double duty and charge mobile devices as well. Dart includes a 2.1 Amp / 10.5 Watt in-line USB port that can be used even while the laptop battery is charging. That added functionality, along with the Dart’s small size is certainly appealing: The Kickstarter project is already nearing its $ 200,000 funding goal on the very first day.

dart charger

Early backers can get a Dart in their choice of five colors for $ 89 as the first round of $ 79 backers is already gone. The Dart team expects to deliver the first batch of products in November; at that time, expect to pay the full retail price of $ 119. And if you plan to use Dart with a Mac full retail will be $ 199 although there are currently early bird deals costing $ 148.

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Hands on with Adobe Lightroom Mobile for iOS

In my quest to make 2014 the Year of the iPad, a professional photo editing program that interfaces with my Lightroom-based workflow was a big gap. This week Adobe released Lightroom Mobile (Free, but subscription required) and I took a look how it could help my photo workflow.

Lightroom Mobile allows you to perform basic editing and photo culling features. It can also sync with your Adobe Lightroom 5.4 desktop client. There is, however, a huge gotcha for that.

Pricing

The biggest thing that annoys me about Lightroom Mobile is the pricing. It requires either a Creative Cloud license or at the minimum a Photoshop Photography Program license. Those run from $ 9.99 to $ 600. That’s a lot.

Unlike Office for iPad, the app simply will not work without a subscription. While Office at least gives you the option to read files without an Office365 subscription, Adobe Lightroom Mobile greets you with a login screen when you launch the app. I also have a standalone Lightroom 5 license, but without a Cloud license I can’t sync my photos to Lightroom Mobile. Given the limited feature set of the mobile app, I think this is a huge miss for Adobe.

What the app can and can’t do

The biggest draw to Lightroom Mobile is that it can handle RAW files in a non-destructive manner. It can also sync with my collections on Lightroom 5.4. It has a small amount of presets and cropping tools you can use to adjust photos with, but they are pretty standard and about as good as most existing photo apps available. What I did like is that you can adjust the white balance either via presets, or picking a reference point on the photo. You can also adjust the contrast, brightness, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, clarity, vibrance and saturation. You can also undo all edits to a photo.

What it can’t do is the advanced editing you use Lightroom Desktop to do. You cannot have custom presets, adjust curves, sharpening, noise reduction, lens correction and the like. It’s also not a professional-level tool. For starters, your iPad display is not calibrated. In my case, being color blind and shooting down to black-and-white most of the time, this is not a problem for me.

Hopefully, Adobe will add more features soon. Right now, the feature set is just too limited to justify a $ 10/month subscription.

crump-IMG_0478

Syncing with Lightroom 5.4

Setting up syncing with Lightroom 5.4 is pretty easy. You go to the collection you want to share and check off a box next to the name. From there, Lightroom syncs down a Smart Preview of the photo. Smart Preview files are a new lightweight, smaller, file format based on the lossy DNG file format introduced in Lightroom 4. They also let you edit files not directly attached to your Mac. I use them to edit photos on the go when I’m not attached to my main drive at home. On the iPad, this helps keep the file size to a manageable level.

You can also create collections on Lightroom Mobile and sync those back to the desktop version as well. You can import photos from your iPad’s camera roll, but not your PhotoStream.

It’s also important to note that your photos are not synced through Adobe’s cloud services. So you can’t bring your iPad to a shoot, create a collection and have the photos already on your desktop when you get back to your desk.

crump-Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 7.40.01 PM

How it will integrate with my workflow

My photo workflow is pretty basic. I import my photos from my camera’s SD card to Lightroom. I then go through the photos and pick or reject my photos. From there I do the needful on the photos via a collection of custom presets. Lightroom Mobile can certainly help with the culling process. I find using the iPad to go through photos a very relaxing part of the process. You can import your photos during a shoot and then view them with model to see what ones he or she likes. This saves a ton of time and helps eliminates the need to book other sessions for a reshoot.

Other than that, I don’t see me doing any heavy photo editing on my iPad. I might see how a photo will look in B&W, but all my post-processing will still be done in Lightroom 5.4.

Is it worth the subscription?

If you do not have a Photoshop Photography Program subscription already, I see little reason to subscribe just to get Lightroom Mobile. Unlike Office365, where all apps can access files stored on your OneDrive, Lightroom Mobile does not access your Creative Cloud storage. If it did, and I had the ability to sync down a collection at will, that might make the subscription palatable. As it is now, the app should just be free since it’s more of a companion app to Lightroom 5.4.

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