iPad Pro Lightning Port Is USB 3 Speed

Update, Nov. 12, 2015: I just confirmed with a source at Apple that there are forthcoming adapters that take advantage of the USB 3 speeds, but they aren’t yet confirming when they will ship. That’s bare-bones Apple-ese for “Yep, and you’ll find out more when we’re ready.”

As iPad Pro units are now shipping, people are discovering the USB 3 hardware and testing copy speeds between the iPad Pro and computers.

Original post, Sep. 11, 2015:

I learned a little tidbit from a source today: the Lightning port on the upcoming iPad Pro will transfer data at USB 3 speeds, faster than current iPads. 

That’s potentially good news for photographers and videographers who import images and video clips from SD cards or cameras directly to the iPad for editing and reviewing. I don’t know offhand if the existing Lightning camera adapters will also support that speed or if new adapters will be required. But it’s a welcome change for those of us who have spent many many minutes waiting for media to transfer before we can act on it.

I can’t wait to learn more details as we get closer to the November release date.

Related: I’m running a survey to see how photographers are using the iPad in their workflows. It takes just a couple of minutes, and you could win a bundle of three of my latest books. Click here to take the survey.

The iPad for Photographers survey results are here.

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iPad Pro Reviews Roundup

IPadPro Pencil Lifestyle1

The iPad Pro is now officially available: order it from the Apple Store or use the Apple Store app, and possibly even pick one up at your closest Apple Retail store if it’s in stock.

Apple is sending a review unit to me at the end of the week, so for now I must scour the reviews of others to see what this new beast is like. So far I’m excited about it. Here are some of the reviews I’ve liked so far. Look for an article from me next week (or the week after) at Macworld about how the iPad Pro stacks up specifically for photographers.

  • Ben Bajarin at Techpinions, The iPad Pro: The Start of Something New:
    [I]f all we do is look for the iPad Pro to replace our desktop or laptop, we are missing the point. The paradigm of a fixed desktop computer plus a portable desktop computer, along with a mouse and keyboard as a primary input mechanism, is the old world of computing. I believe Apple has laid the groundwork for something new in this category. (Disclaimer: I helped edit this piece.)
  • Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch, iPad Pro and the Death of a Metaphor: “iPads have little to no known malware, no bloatware to make a machine run slower, strict allowances for utilizing standing system resources and known hardware. What happens when you have a capable general consumer computing device, with no moving parts and software that is designed explicitly for the maximum capabilities of the device and no more? No one knows. It’s literally never happened before.”
  • John Gruber at Daring Fireball, The iPad Pro: “For me, the iPad Pro marks the turning point where iPads are no longer merely lightweight (both physically and conceptually) alternatives to MacBooks for use in simple scenarios, to where MacBooks will now start being seen as heavyweight alternatives to iPads for complex scenarios.”
  • Federico Viticci at MacStories, iPad Pro Review: A New Canvas: “This is less of a ‘just for media consumption’ device than any iPad before it. The iPad Pro is, primarily, about getting work done on iOS. And with such a focus on productivity, the iPad Pro has made rethink what I expect from an iPad.”

Not a review, but an acute observation by Rich Mogull:

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Macworld Reviews Adobe Photoshop Fix

As mobile devices continue become more powerful, we can do more with them, and that applies to photo editing. Over at Macworld, J.R. Bookwalter reviews Adobe Photoshop Fix, which brings many of Photoshop’s image manipulation tools—such as distort and liquify—to iOS devices. He likes it, but wonders why Photoshop Fix and Photoshop Mix (ugh, they really couldn’t differentiate better than that?) are two separate tools:

“Together with Mix, Adobe Photoshop Fix is indeed the serious mobile retouching solution the company pledged to deliver. Now it’s time to either consolidate both into a single app or make it easier to move projects between each—and throw in extension support for Apple Photos while we’re at it.”

Survey Results: The State of the iPad for Photographers 2015


I started September with a question: How are people using the iPad with their photography? Is it really an invaluable addition to one’s camera bag, or is it an occasionally useful item? Is it even being used at all? Sales of iPads have been steadily dropping over the past couple of years, though I think that has more to do with the fact that people aren’t buying new iPads at the same rate as new iPhones. (Any company would kill for even Apple’s “low” sales numbers of iPads, but that’s a rant for another day.)

In 2011, I saw the potential of the iPad as a photographer’s tool and wrote the first edition of The iPad for Photographers, which detailed how you could review photos you capture using other cameras (at the time, the iPad 2 had only just come out, the first model to include an admittedly terrible camera), apply metadata to them to streamline the tagging process, and of course edit and share them—all without using a desktop or laptop computer. I published, in cooperation with my friends at Peachpit Press, two subsequent editions of the book.

So how are you using the iPad in 2015? I created a survey to find out, and the results are in some ways unexpected and other ways surprising. I encourage you to view the full results, but here’s the short version:

  • Most people who import photos to the iPad do so using the wired Camera Connection Kit (older iPads) or Lightning SD Card or USB adapters. Almost as many sync via iCloud, Lightroom mobile, Google Photos, or some other cloud service. The number of folks transferring photos directly from a camera’s built-in Wi-Fi feature was about half of those others, but considering how long it’s taken companies to implement Wi-Fi into cameras, the number is larger than I expected.
  • People rarely assign ratings or favorites to elevate the good photos from the not-so-good. I suspect this is because the process of importing photos onto the iPad is still time-consuming.
  • Most people don’t bother with any additional metadata. The fact that the apps designed for doing so (such as Photosmith and PhotosInfoPro) have all gone dormant bears this out.
  • More effort seems to be going into editing photos, and of the tools available, Snapseed is the leader, followed by Lightroom mobile and Apple’s built-in Photos app.
  • Surprisingly, the iPad Air 2 was the most-used model—the latest model available at the time the survey was posted. I expected that there would be a broader spread of older models. Of those, a little more than half were Wi-Fi–only models. The 64 GB configuration is the sweet spot in terms of storage.

A quick but important caveat: The survey attracted just 132 responses, which is less than I hoped, but it at least provides a window into the preferences of those who chose to take the survey.


The iPad is strong on editing, but the effort needed to get to that point is greater than it should be. That means using an iPad as a field companion—appealing especially for people who don’t want to tote a laptop along—is possible, but it’s hampered by slow ingest and limited storage. Perhaps the iPad Pro, which will offer USB 3 speeds through its Lightning port, may improve this.

I’m not too surprised that the Cloud has turned into a preferred method of moving photos onto the iPad, although of course the usefulness depends entirely on your current Internet connection—likely fine when you’re at home on the couch, but not so great in remote locations.

And, lastly, no one is using the iPad to apply metadata. This is the top request I hear from professional photographers, but I don’t think most regular people are doing it. Perhaps services like Google Photos, which comes up with its own metadata based on automated visual searches of photos, is the future here. I still believe that metadata is a powerful thing for photos, regardless of your photo skill level or interest; in my book Take Control of Your Digital Photos on a Mac, Second Edition, I present a painless way to do it on the Mac.

The big question as I write this is how, or if, the iPad Pro will affect the field. Apple still hasn’t implemented any type of raw format support into iOS, which reduces the Pro’s appeal for many photographers in terms of editing, although perhaps the iPad Pro will be fast and powerful enough to run an app such as PiRAWhna smoothly. We’ll have to see.

The survey results appear below. Thank you to everyone who took the time to take the survey and share their comments!













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Check Your Apps Before Upgrading to iOS 9

Today is release day for iOS 9 (10 a.m. PST), which means (1) Apple’s servers will probably be slammed all day and it could take a long time to download and install the update, and (2) not all third-party apps are ready for the new operating system.

Before you apply the free upgrade, make sure any apps you rely on work properly. So far I’ve seen updates to ShutterSnitch, The Photographer’s Ephemeris, Handy Photo, and Flickr, to name a few photo-related apps. Others may already work fine with iOS 9 without a special update. And at least two are specifically not ready yet: CamRanger and Fujifilm Cam Remote.

I’ve been running iOS 9 betas for several weeks with few issues, but it’s always good to be cautious right when major new operating systems are sent to the wider world. Be sure to make an encrypted backup via iTunes before you update; that retains a lot of passwords and other information that you’d otherwise have to provide during the update process.

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Help me evaluate the state of the iPad for photography


[Update: The results are here!]

In 2012 I saw the potential of the iPad (then on its second generation) as a tool that photographers could take advantage of, and pitched my editors at Peachpit Press to write a book about it. The result was The iPad for Photographers, which is currently in its third edition.

The iPad is now five years old, so I’d love to discover how photographers are currently using the iPad in their workflows. Is it a crucial tool? An occasional benefit? Do you organize and edit photos? I would appreciate it if you could take just a few minutes to fill out a short survey. I’ll publish the results soon after the survey closes on September 30.

[Note: The end date was originally September 25, but I’ve been busy as heck and would like to give the survey a little more time to gain more responses. More data is better!]

Also, I will select one person at random (from the list of people who choose to include their name and email address) and send them a print copy of each of three of my latest books: Photos for OS X and iOS; The Connected Apple Family; and The iPad for Photographers, Third Edition.

Go to the survey here: The iPad for Photographers Usage Poll, September 2015

Lightroom Mobile Article Featured in Adobe Mailing

Cc plan email

If you subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography Plan (which includes Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC, plus Creative Cloud syncing and Lightroom mobile for $10 a month), you probably received an email today containing a familiar name: me!

One of the highlights is a pointer (shown above) to the article that I published in Adobe Inspire in June, “Take Lightroom on Your Next Shoot.” If you missed the article when I pointed to it then, it’s all about how I used Lightroom mobile during a photo workshop in May through the California Redwoods.

I love writing articles like this, which point to practical things you can do with your photos in addition to inspiring you to get out and make more images. It was a fun one to write.

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The Hidden Editing Power of Photos for OS X

Photos hidden 06 levels finetune

Photos for OS X is a consumer application, replacing iPhoto, but you’ll be surprised at how capable it is as a photo editor. In my latest article for Macworld, I look at several unexpected ways the editing features are more powerful than it appears, from keyboard shortcuts to the sophisticated Levels tool.

Read it here: The Hidden Editing Power of Photos for OS X

(Fair warning: the Macworld page includes an annoying auto-playing video. In fact, as I write this, all the comments in the article are about the video. Macworld’s editors can’t do anything about it, unfortunately: it’s a business decision made higher up. I know first-hand that the editors have tried for years to get rid of the autoplay videos.)

Speaking of Photos for OS X, my new book is now available!


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New Book! Photos for OS X and iOS


Apple is in the middle of a dramatic overhaul of its photo software, discontinuing iPhoto and Aperture and replacing them with the new Photos for OS X. Since iPhoto was the pre-installed, easy-to-use application for managing digital photos on the Mac, millions of people use it for their photo libraries. But Photos for OS X isn’t just an update to iPhoto—it’s a complete rewrite that often looks and behaves differently than its predecessor, designed to work with the Photos app on iPhones and iPads and with the new iCloud Photo Library.

This is where my new book comes in! The full title is Photos for OS X and iOS: Take, edit, and share photos in the Apple photography ecosystem, and it covers the whole shebang, such as:

  • How to capture photos and videos using an iPhone or iPad (even the Apple Watch!)
  • Smart strategies for converting iPhoto and Aperture libraries, and what changes when you switch to Photos for OS X
  • Importing photos from any camera
  • How to set up and use iCloud Photo Library, and understand its occasional quirks
  • How to edit photos on the Mac (which is more capable than you might think!) and on iOS devices
  • Creating prints, photo books, calendars, and slideshows

I’ve packed a lot of information into 200 pages, along with full-color photos, lots of screenshots, and plenty of answers. The book is now available in stores and from online retailers for as little as $18. (If you order the print or ebook versions from or directly from Peachpit, I get a small commission that helps to support the work I do. Peachpit also offers a bundle that includes the print book and ebook files—PDF, EPUB, and MOBI.)

To celebrate the launch, I’m giving away five copies of the ebook version! To be eligible, all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter. You’re welcome to unsubscribe after the drawing if you’d like; the newsletter is a way for me to get to know my readers better, announce new projects, and do giveaways like this. I’ll pick the five winners randomly on Monday, August 10, 2015.

Here’s a selection of pages from the book to give you an idea of what you’ll find. I really like how it turned out: