Last spring, Adobe brought a version of its Lightroom photo-editing software to the iPad making for some convenient editing on the go. Months later, a version of the app is ready for Android devices and it brings all of the key features from the iOS version to those handsets running Google's mobile OS. You'll notice that I said "handsets" there, and that's an important caveat. The app is designed for use on phones, and not tablets. Adobe says a version that's optimized for tablets is on the way, but for now, the app is meant to be used on phones. While this new Lightroom mobile equips devices running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and later with its toolbox of tweaks (more on that in a minute), the creative software company recommends that you have at least 8GB of free space on your device to keep things running smoothly.
Just like the iOS version, the Android app is a free download, but you'll need a Creative Cloud subscription to use it. You don't need the full membership though, as the photography-specific plan is now a permanent fixture at $10 a month. Lightroom mobile syncs edits, metadata and collections with Lightroom 5.4 (or higher) on both Windows and Mac. It also automatically imports shots from your phone and allows you to access Creative Cloud-stored files for editing while your away from that work machine. Don't expect the full set of tools, as the mobile software is limited to much of what's in the Basic Panel and cropping tools. Options like color temperature, exposure, highlights and contrast are available, but those handy presets that you've created, or purchased from the likes of VSCO, won't be accessible. Adobe says that expanded preset support is something it's working on, but there's no timeline for when they'll be added to the mobile apps.
Just like the iPad app, Lightroom mobile uses the RAW file to create a compressed preview version that's only about 5 percent of the original size (around one to two megabytes). The original is maintained, and a 2,560-pixel wide image ensures that the collection you edit during your evening commute doesn't take forever to download or take up all of your storage space. As we've already mentioned, Adobe says you'll need 8GB of internal storage (not extra space you've added on a microSD card) to move the files back and forth, along with a minimum 1.7GHz quad-core CPU and 1GB RAM.
Remember when I said most of the key features from iOS made it over to Android? Well, the one difference is Lightroom's commenting system is absent on this version, but Adobe says it will be part of a future update. You can, however, still like, flag and reject images as needed. My biggest gripe here is the lack of tablet support. I've used Lightroom mobile on an iPad, and the app seems much better served with the larger display of a slate. Here's to hoping Adobe's plan to outfit Android tablets is just around the corner, but until then, those who prefer Google's software will have to settle for using smaller screens.