Adobe's editing tools made it famous among professionals on the desktop, but it's been trying to open up to a much broader audience when it comes mobile. Today, it's releasing several new apps to push that forward. The first is Lightroom for iPhone, a near-exact port of the iPad app it released earlier this spring. The second is Photoshop Mix for iPad, an image-editing app that's designed to be simple to use and to allow people to easily splice multiple photos together. And on top of all of those are Sketch and Line, two drawing apps designed around Adobe's new stylus.
Lightroom has feature parity with its iPad version
Photoshop Mix is largely free to use and is seemingly a lot more fun than Lightroom, making it by far the more broadly focused of the two apps. As its name suggests, the purpose of Mix is to mix together your photos, and its key feature is a tool that lets you drag your finger over a person or an object to have them cut out of a scene. Once Mix isolates your subject, it then lets you grab another photo from your library and drop it in as the background. Adobe showed me some examples where it worked pretty much perfectly, but the results were about as unrealistic and messy as you'd expect when I gave it a try.
Mix is also a really demanding app for the iPad to run. It's hardly worth using on the original iPad mini, where it constantly stutters and is even a bit glitchy, but it gets by dramatically better on newer hardware. Still, to compensate for performance issues, Adobe is actually offloading some of Mix's most intensive processes to the cloud, including shake reduction for photos and the ability to automatically cut part of a photo out and fill it back in with whatever the app guesses would otherwise have been there. Unfortunately, you'll eventually have to be a subscriber to Creative Cloud to take advantage of those offloaded features.
Similarly, Lightroom for iPhone also requires a Creative Cloud subscription. But for those with one, it's a capable app by all appearances. It can do everything that Lightroom for iPad can do, and that means performing basic, non-destructive edits on your photos — including RAW files — and synchronizing them across your library. It's hard to imagine that anyone will actually want to do that type of serious photo editing on the iPhone's small screen, but at the very least, Lightroom for iPhone makes for an excellent way of showing others your already-edited photos on the go.
Sketch and Line can be used even without a stylus
Beyond those two photo offerings, Adobe is also debuting two iPad drawing apps, called Sketch and Line. Sketch is designed more for doodling, while Line includes some more robust tools for designers and architects. They won't help you get much serious work done, but they're decent alternatives to Paper — and entirely free. Though they're designed with Adobe's new stylus in mind, you can use both even if you don't own it.
Adobe is introducing one other mobile product today, but it isn't something that you'll immediately see. It's putting out a toolkit for developers that will allow them to create apps that tap into Creative Cloud and other Adobe technologies. It'll allow apps to create files that are compatible with Photoshop, to access documents that users have stored on Adobe's website, and to use special features like shake reduction, among others. It isn't clear exactly how far this will let developers take advantage of Adobe's technology, but Adobe says that Line, Sketch, and Photoshop Mix were all made using these very tools. It'll be made available for free to select third parties at first, at which point you may start seeing some apps that you know get a bit more powerful thanks to Adobe.
On top of its new photography apps, Adobe is also cementing the availability of its low-cost photography plan for Creative Cloud. Those interested in using some of Adobe's dozens of apps for professionals generally have to pay a $49.99 per month subscription fee — but a discounted offering has been available too as part of a $9.99 per month photography plan that gives access to just Photoshop and Lightroom (and now Mix). Until today, this was being called a limited-time option, but now Adobe says that it has no plans to stop offering it.
These are all part of a wide set of releases that Adobe is putting out today today across its Creative Cloud apps and services. There are a number of tweaks to Photoshop CC too, including support for Windows 8.1 at high resolutions and for touchscreens, as well as new blur effects and a tool for quickly masking out-of-focus areas. Today also sees the release of Adobe's first hardware, a stylus called Ink and a digital ruler called Slide.