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Adobe remakes Lightroom CC as a hybrid app and 1TB cloud service

Steve Dent

Adobe has unveiled a raft of new apps and updates for Max 2017, most notably a big revamp of Lightroom CC to make it more cloud-friendly for mobile users. The centerpiece is an all-new Lightroom CC with a 1TB cloud service -- the "Project Nimbus" app that leaked last year. It features a streamlined version of Lightroom CC that keeps images, edits and metadata synced in Creative cloud across PC and Mac, Android and iOS. For desktop users who prefer the current, non-cloud app, Adobe has re-branded it as Lightroom Classic CC.

Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC

To be clear, because Adobe's new naming system is pretty darn confusing, Lightroom CC is a series of apps app and a service. As Adobe describes it, Lightroom CC "is designed to be a cloud-based ecosystem of apps that are deeply integrated and work together seamlessly across desktop, mobile and web." Lightroom Classic CC, on the other hand, "is designed for desktop-based (file/folder) digital photography workflows."

Despite the fact that it's cloud-based, Adobe says Lightroom CC is "built on the same imaging technology that powers Photoshop and Lightroom." The desktop app has changed considerably, however. The new version for PC and Mac has an all-new, simplified interface with streamlined sliders, presets and quick-adjustment tools, and some of the features in the old version of Lightroom CC are missing.

The prime feature of Lightroom CC is the cloud sync, which works automatically to save all of your RAW images, edits and metadata, letting you pick up where you left off regardless of your location or device. Another key new feature is Adobe Sensei, an AI algorithm that figures out what's in your images and automatically tags them, much as Google Photos does. Adobe is also highlighting its built-in sharing tools, that let you build cutom galleries and share them on social media or through the new Lightroom CC Portfolio integration.


The mobile apps on iOS and Android have also been significantly updated, though they'll still work as they did before with Lightroom CC Classic. The iOS version gets Adobe Sensei search and tagging, an enhanced app layout and iOS 11 file support. Meanwhile on Android, Adobe has finally added tablet support and a local adjustment brush, along with the same Sensei searching as on iOS.

Using a preview copy, I briefly tried out the new desktop version on Windows 10, and the new user interface is completely different and more like the tablet version. Gone are the top "Library," "Develop," "Map," "Slideshow" and other menus, replaced simply by "My Photos," and "Edit." Photo organization has also been simplified, reduced to two grid sizes and a single image, eliminating the "Select/Candidate" and "Survey View."

All of tools from "Develop" are now in "Edit," but some popular tools like "Tone Curve," "Panorama," and "HDR Merge" are no longer available. There's now an "Edit in Photoshop" button that will presumably let you do more fine-tuned work. However, if you've got an established workflow and rely on those missing tools, you'll obviously want to stick to the Lightroom CC Classic version.

As for the Lightroom CC Classic desktop app, Adobe has made a few small changes including a new color range and luminance masking functionality. It emphasized that Lighroom CC "continues to focus on a more traditional desktop-first workflow with local storage and file and folder control," compared to the "cloud-centric" operation of Lightroom CC.

Photoshop CC and new apps


Adobe made some significant changes to Photoshop CC (above), including what it calls "major improvements to learning and getting started," thanks to interactive, step-by-step tutorials and rich tip tools. Other highlights include Lightroom photo access from the start screen (above), 360 spherical panoramic image editing, symmetry painting (tech preview), numerous brush tweaks, new font tools and much more.

The company unveiled three new apps that do three very different things. The first, Adobe XD CC, is aimed at users who want to design and prototype mobile apps and services, developed "in open partnership with the design community through a public beta," the company said.

For video and motion graphics creators, Adobe also unveiled Character Animator CC. It lets you take graphics and characters from Photoshop or Illustrator, and add "visual puppet controls," pose-to-pose blending, physics behaviors and other 2D character animation tools. Finally, there's Adobe Dimension CC, basically a package that lets designers do quick-and-dirty 3D work for branding, packaging design, etc. "with the ease and simplicity of working with 2D."

Plans and Pricing

With the introduction of Lightroom CC, Adobe has introduced several new plans that, it has to be said again, are bound to create some confusion because of its naming system. First off, know that all of its image editing products, including Photoshop CC, Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic CC and Illustrator, all fall under the "Lightroom CC Photography Service" moniker.

With that in mine, there are three new photography plans. The first is the "Creative Cloud Photography plan with 1TB," which includes Lightroom CC (both the desktop and mobile versions) and Lightroom CC Classic, along with Photoshop CC, Adobe Spark with premium features, Adobe Portfolio and 1TB of cloud storage. That costs $19.99, but Adobe's discounting it to $14.99 for the first year.

The $9.99 "Creative Cloud Photography Plan" gives you the same features, but just 20GB of storage, while the all-new $9.99 "Lightroom CC" plan subtracts Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop CC, while giving you back the 1TB of storage.

  • This article originally appeared on Engadget.