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Adobe announced its next iOS app today at Photoshop World, called Adobe Carousel. This cross-platform app allows users to access their whole photo libraries on an iPad, iPhone, and Mac, make edits that sync automatically, and share those photos with family and friends.
It works like this: You import photos to the Mac, iPhone, or iPad app, and they're synced to Adobe's cloud server. Full-res images are stored on your Mac, and there's no limit to the size of those images, although right now it's JPEG only, no RAW -- Adobe told us it's tested images up to 40 megapixels. There's also no limit to the number of images you can import.
But since the storage on your iPad and iPhone are a bit more limited, the versions that appear there are automatically downsized to twice the device's native resolution, so you can zoom in to 2x when viewing your library. Images imported anywhere are automatically pushed to every device -- in the demo we received, this happened quickly over both Wi-Fi and 3G.
The preset Looks, shown here on the Mac version of Carousel, let you change the look of your photo with a click, kind of like Instagram but without the square cropping.
But besides storing and viewing images, Carousel lets you edit them nondestructively. When you edit an image on your Mac, you're already working with full-size photos of course, but when you open an image for editing on an iPad or iPhone by tapping the Develop button, Carousel will first download the full-resolution image from the cloud. You can easily apply "Looks," which are over a dozen premade filters such as Sepia, Winter, Dream, and Koi.
The Adjustments tab has sliders to correct the white balance, exposure, and contrast, and each of those sliders can be expanded into three more sliders for finer editing control, as well as an Auto button that lets Carousel perform the edit for you. One nice touch: If you use the Auto button, the slider position changes so you can see which way it moved. Apply and Undo buttons let you save or undo your edits.
The Crop and Rotate tab is pretty self-explanatory. It overlays a grid on your photo that you can drag to reside. Rotating is done by 90-degree increments using a button (no Multi-Touch support on iPhone or iPad, unfortunately), or more gradually with the Straighten slider, and you can also flip images horizontally or vertically.
Carousel's Adjustments tab has sliders for basic edits, and if you click the arrow buttons to the right of each label, you'll get three more related sliders for fine-tuning.
Edits you make to your photos are synced to your other devices, including the positions of the various sliders in case you want to adjust further. Since they're nondestructive, you can also revert to the original photo at any time.
Carousel lets you share individual images by emailing or posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumbler, and the iOS versions also let you save images to the Camera Roll. But Carousel can also be a group effort -- you can share entire libraries with up to 5 friends, and they have full access to add, edit, and even delete photos. To make sure your friends don't trash the photos you love most, you can mark them as favorites. Your favorites are flagged with gold tags in the carousel view, and your friends are flagged with gray tags -- a tiny number on the flag shows how many people marked it as a favorite.
Adobe plans to release it for Mac and iOS devices this September (PC and Android support are scheduled for 2012), but the system requirements are a bit steep: Macs need to be running OS 10.7 Lion, and both iPads are supported, but on the handheld side you'd need an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, or fourth-gen iPod touch.
The apps are free downloads, but require a subscription after a complimentary 30-day trial, of $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year. That gets you unlimited photo imports which you can organize into 5 carousels, and share each carousel with up to 4 people. There's no limit to the number of devices you can install Carousel on too; they'll all stay in sync. And the people you share with need to download the free apps of course and sign up for an account, but get full access to your shared carousels for free. The only reason they'd have to pay too is if they want to start and share their own carousels.
Our first impression of Adobe Carousel is that it's been well thought out to work on all your devices, and would be a great way for families or tight groups of friends to share photo libraries without a lot of hassle. We'll have a full review when the apps become available later this month.