iPad Pro Gets a Significant Update

ipad-pro-family-blackOne of the highlights of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote was the unveiling of two new iPad Pro models. The flashier update replaces the current 9.7 inch iPad Pro, which now has a 10.5-inch (diagonal) screen but is only a hair physically larger than the model it replaces: 9.8 inches tall and 6.8 inches wide, compared to 9.4 inches tall and 6.6 inches wide. The new one is also 0.05 inches thinner, and weighs the same 1.03 pounds.

(To watch the iPad Pro portion of the keynote, start at the 93:00 mark—yes, that’s 93 minutes; the whole event ran over two hours!)

The size of that display isn’t the only highlight: The 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models are also brighter than predecessors, and both have True Tone displays (which adjust color balance based on ambient lighting) and P3 Wide Color gamut.

They also operate at up to 120 Hz, double the rate that today’s devices run, resulting in two implications. The higher refresh rate—Apple calls it ProMotion—means the screen updates more quickly, making it significantly more responsive, according to Apple. That extends from touch input to using Apple Pencil, which now operates at a reduced latency of 20ms. ProMotion is also good for battery life, because the iPad Pro adjusts the refresh rate based on what you’re doing onscreen: if you’re browsing the Web or viewing still photos, it switches to a lower refresh rate, and therefore consumes less battery power. Even movies can be scaled back to 60 Hz (without affecting video quality).

One of the things I’m happy to see, for photographers, is that the Lightning port on both models now operates at USB 3 speeds, making for much faster photo and video import. (Last year’s release of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro was stuck with USB 2 speeds, a feature I curse every single time I import photos into mine.)

ipad_pro_usb3_speeds_2017_keynote

The new iPad Pro models ship with an Apple-designed A10X processor for greater speed. To demonstrate the processor power, Serif demonstrated their new Affinity Photo application for iPad, which was impressive as hell and just released today. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and see how it performs.

The base configurations now start at 64 GB and go up to 512 GB of storage. You can order them now via Apple, and they begin shipping next week.

Also interesting are the changes for iPad that are coming with iOS 11, also announced at the event. Apple is finally treating the iPad Pro like the powerful computer it is, with lots of multi-tasking and multi-select gestures and options. See more about iOS 11 here; it’s available now to developers, with a full free release to everyone in the fall.

Be sure to watch this short intro video Apple created:

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iPad Photo Backup with a Raspberry Pi

Making backups of your photos while you’re on location is essential, and there are plenty of ways to do it. I own a WD My Passport Wireless hard disk that works well (and it’s been supplanted by the new My Passport Wireless Pro).

But for some people, the solution is to build it themselves. Lenin at Moving Electrons put together a package built around a Raspberry Pi to store and access photos from his iPad Pro. It’s definitely a more geeky approach, involving lots of custom code, but looks like a great project. Check it out here: Backup Photos While Traveling With an iPad Pro and a Raspberry Pi

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Getting (i)Cloudy at The Seattle Times

My barber said, “I have too many clouds,” and I immediately sympathized. iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive…I have files stashed in all of them. What surprised me when I set about to write this week’s column for the Seattle Times, is that I’ve so effortlessly moved so much of my work and personal data to cloud-based services.

iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, released last month, further entwine iCloud’s tendrils into everyday activities. In the column, I talk about how it enables me to control Philips Hue lights in my home from any remote location, unlock a Mac using my Apple Watch just by getting near it, and more.

Read the column here: Forecast: Increasing use of cloud services for just about everything.

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Photos Crash Course for iOS 10 and macOS Sierra

Tc photos v2Sometimes, it feels as if I’m a lone defender of Apple’s Photos app under macOS. Many people find it too different from iPhoto, or think it’s too basic (even though it’s actually quite sophisticated), or… I don’t know, they just don’t like change. Except for Aperture users who were abandoned by Apple—their discontent is understandable.

It’s not just because I wrote a book about Photos and Apple’s photo ecosystem. True, I use Lightroom as my primary photo library manager, but I also make extensive use of Photos and iCloud Photo Library.

And now macOS Sierra is out, with a new version of Photos that brings better searching, Memories, revamped people identification, and more!

Alas, when my publisher Peachpit Press all but vaporized early this year, the possibility to update my Photos book also went up in smoke. That’s too bad, because I really enjoyed writing it, and thought it turned out well.

However, I’m not the only Photos defender. My friend and colleague Jason Snell has just released the second edition of his highly regarded, and best-selling, Photos: A Take Control Crash Course. Jason has been immersed in Photos during the developer preview versions of macOS Sierra and knows it inside and out. The ebook is 74 pages of hard-won information, fully illustrated and written in Jason’s friendly, approachable style. And it’s only $10!

Photos is a key part of both macOS Sierra and iOS 10, so before you order Jason’s book using the link above, consider bundling it—at a discount—with Scholle McFarland’s Sierra: A Take Control Crash Course, Josh Centers’s iOS 10: A Take Control Crash Course, or both!

Buy the Photos, Sierra, and iOS 10 Crash Courses for $28
Buy the Photos and Sierra Crash Courses for $17.50
Buy the Photos and iOS 10 Crash Courses for $17.50

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iPad Pro: Not a Question of If, Son, but Which One?

My esteemed colleague Julio Ojeda-Zapata knows that you should buy an iPad Pro if you’re in the market for a new tablet, but which model? The 12.9-inch model has a beautiful screen and faster performance, while the 9.7-inch model is a bit lighter and offers the True Tone display (and a wider color gamut).

In this TidBITS article, Julio breaks down the differences and spotlights the advantages of each: Comparing iPad Pro Technologies and Intangibles.

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How Lightroom for iOS 2.4 Changes the Mobile Photo Landscape

Birdhouses

Over at TidBITS, I write in more depth about the changes in Lightroom for iOS 2.4, and they’re doozies: Lightroom for iOS 2.4 Changes Mobile Photo Workflow.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, adding native raw file format support to Adobe’s mobile photo editor is a big deal, especially for people who are looking to use just an iPad or iPhone on photo shoots to minimize the gear they carry.

It means you don’t end up with separate edited copies of photos that are synced with Lightroom on the desktop—a raw file editing in Lightroom mobile is synced to your main library with edits intact. And the editing power takes a big leap in quality, pulling detail out of shadows without blocking up sections where JPEGs just don’t hold up.

For example, here’s an underexposed raw photo edited entirely in Lightroom on my iPad:

LRm24 raw before after

There’s a better example in the article that shows extreme pixelation in a JPEG.

I also talk about the new local selection tools, which are great for adjusting selected portions in linear or gradient areas. Here’s another before-and-after, showing the radial tools at work; I was able to bring up the exposure for just the birdhouses without overexposing the background.

Lightroom m24 local original

Lightroom m24 local radial

Overall, this is an exciting release, something I’ve been looking forward to for years. It streamlines the mobile photo workflow and does what I envisioned in 2011 when I wrote the first edition of my iPad for Photographers book.

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Lightroom for iOS 2.4 Adds Raw and Gradient Selections

Lightroom for iOS 2.4

Adobe just released a significant update for the iOS version of Lightroom, bringing two features mobile photographers are going to love: raw import and editing, and linear and radial graduated adjustments. The first could change how we work with photos in the field, and the second is a feature I use more and more on the desktop and have in the past resorted to interesting workarounds to implement on the iPad.

I need to dig more into this release, but it looks promising. Photos you import using Apple’s Lightning adapters are brought into the Photos app Camera Roll, and then recognized by Lightroom as raw. (Oh, but now I lament Apple’s choice of sticking with USB 2.0 speed for photo import on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.) This could mean no longer needing to shoot in Raw+JPEG just to get a high-resolution JPEG to work with on the device.

(Remember, until now Lightroom wouldn’t even display raw images when importing them from the Camera Roll, and in most apps, the JPEG preview the camera creates to display on its LCD is what’s used for editing.)

Adobe says the app supports all the same raw formats that Lightroom on the desktop supports; I had no trouble opening and editing a handful of raw .RAF files from my Fuji X-T1.

Lightroom ios 2 4 raw badges

I’ll be writing more about this, looking at how Lightroom syncs the raw files back to the desktop, whether it’s practical to import a lot of images or just selected ones, and what this means for Apple’s upcoming raw image support in iOS 10.

For now, here’s more information from Adobe: Lightroom for Mobile July Releases.

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Raw Support Coming to iOS 10

Well now, this is interesting. PetaPixel spotted a feature in one of the slides during yesterday’s WWDC keynote that reads: “RAW photo editing.” We don’t yet know the details, but if iOS finally supports raw images, that could be a giant leap for mobile photo workflows. Raw is typically where the iPad has thrown a wrench into the works (as I describe in my book and elsewhere).

iOS 10 is available now to developers, with a public beta coming in July. The update will be available for everyone in the fall when we’ll see new iPhone models. I would bet (and the PetaPixel article brings up) that we’ll see some sort of raw capture on the new iPhones and perhaps the iPad, too.

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The 9.7-inch iPad Pro Color Gamut

Harbor sRGB

I was working late one night a few weeks ago and saw a tweet by Craig Hockenberry that immediately piqued my interest. The new iPad Pro 9.7-inch model had just been announced, with an intriguing new True Tone display feature that adjusts the screen’s color temperature based on the ambient light in the room. And Craig, one of the first iOS developers outside of Apple, recognized what was going on:

I wrote more in “ColorSync Support in iOS 9.3 (!)” about why color management on an iOS device is a new and exciting development, particularly for photographers.

Soon after, Craig asked if I had any wide-gamut photos he could use to test with, and I happily sent him a few images. Many of them are HDR (high dynamic range) photos, which I supplied saved in both ProPhoto RGB and AdobeRGB color spaces. Each space includes more color than the standard sRGB color space used by all other iOS devices (including the 12.9-inch iPad Pro). He put one of the ProPhoto images onto three different iPads to see the immediate difference:

The iPad mini 2 can’t handle the ProPhoto color space at all, which is why the shot is so bland. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro does better, and you can see a little improvement in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro at the bottom.

If you have a 9.7-inch iPad Pro, you can see the difference for yourself: Craig set up a simple Web page that lets you load the images and compare against sRGB. You should also be able to see it on a 5K iMac, which also uses the same expanded PCI-3 color space, but I haven’t had a chance to view it on one.

The difference is most noticeable in the Harbor photo: Look at the orange streaky reflections in the water at the center of the image and tap the Compare sRGB button. The other images aren’t as noticeable—I have trouble telling the sRGB differences, probably because the gamut is most pronounced at the red/orange end of the spectrum.

Craig writes more about it on his site, which I highly recommend: Looking at the Future.

Many thanks to Craig for featuring my photos in his explorations. As a reminder, I sell prints of my photos, so if any of those strike your fancy, contact me.

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ColorSync Support in iOS 9.3 (!)

Truetone cool warm

Shortly after Apple announced the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, I wrote a very quick take on the new True Tone display feature. True Tone automatically adjusts the color temperature of the iPad’s screen to complement the ambient light of your surroundings. For example, have you ever been in a room with warm light and checked email on an iPad, only to lose your eyeballs from the cool-bright burst of light? (Maybe I exaggerate…) True Tone is the answer to that.

However, my initial reaction as a photographer was wariness. If the color of the screen is changing depending on my environment, how can I do any sort of accurate editing? I confirmed that this will be a setting that can be turned off. And I continue to wait until I can get my hands on a device and test it out.

Well, True Tone turns out to be a lot more interesting. Developer Craig Hockenberry noted that the expanded color gamut of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is just the beginning:

In order to make the effect work, iOS needs color management. And with iOS 9.3, that capability is now here—and open for other developers to work with:

The Open Radar report Craig created notes that iOS 9.3 now supports ColorSync, the technology found in OS X for managing color profiles.

Additionally, starting with iOS 9.3 ColorSync support was added to UIKit.

I’ve noticed that it works correctly for both UIColor in a UILabel and with a UIImage in a UIImageView. Are there any other places where ICC profiles are used?

In a conversation with Apple engineers, I also learned that some older devices do not match color. That’s fine, but devices should be listed so our apps can adapt gracefully to this situation.

Why is color management important? Until now, every iOS device ships with just one color profile, sRGB, which is a good general color space for drawing color on screens. The problem is that not all screens are built the same: the photo you view on your laptop may look different on a desktop monitor, which may look different still on a mobile device. Color management is a way to adjust each of those screens so that the image you’re working on remains consistent.

Apple’s screens are generally very good, but for photographers and other visual artists and designers, the inability to adjust the color profile has meant that the iPad is excluded from any serious image-processing workflows.

Now, with true color management possible on the iPad Pro, the tablet may find a place in that chain, and perhaps photographers will be able to do final adjustment work on an iPad instead of bringing a laptop.

We’ll see when the 9.7-inch iPad Pro begins to ship. As Craig notes in his report, it’s not clear whether this capability extends to other hardware or if this iPad Pro is the only one. But with a ColorSync foundation in iOS, it puts more “Pro” into iPad Pro.

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