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Adobe Camera Raw Is Coming Soon To Photoshop iPad

Adobe Camera Raw Is Coming Soon To Photoshop iPad

Adobe is giving you a sneak-peek at Adobe Camera Raw which will soon be available to those who use Photoshop on their iPads.

Adobe Photoshop


This morning, Adobe shared a sneak peek of the power of Adobe Camera Raw coming soon to Photoshop on the iPad. 

From DNG to Apple ProRAW, users will be able to import and open camera raw files, make adjustments like exposure and noise, as well as take advantage of non-destructive editing and auto-adjustments in raw files – all on the iPad. You’ll also be able to import into PSD as an ACR Smart Object. 

The news comes after Adobe announced back in August 2021 that the Magic Wand Tool & Healing Brush would be added to Photoshop on the iPad. 

Click ‘play’ on the video above to learn more about the new Camera RAW options. 


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Apple Introduces 9th Generation iPad and New iPad Mini

Apple Introduces 9th Generation iPad and New iPad Mini

Apple Introduces 9th Generation iPad and New iPad Mini 1

Apple has announced the new ninth-generation iPad, with new features as well as a new iPad Mini with a sleek design. Both tablets also see a major jump in performance over predecessors.

The latest Apple event — “California Dreaming” — was kicked off with announcements for the company’s iPad lineup with powerful performance boosts to both Apple’s standard iPad and the new iPad Mini model.

The popular standard size iPad model, which is now in its 9th generation, features a powerful A13 Bionic chip, which Apple claims packs performance all the while retaining battery life.

Apple Introduces 9th Generation iPad and New iPad Mini 2

Starting at $330 for everyday consumers or $300 for schools, the latest iPad offers fast connectivity, compatibility with smart accessories, and boasts three times faster speeds than Chromebook and six times faster than Android tablets, according to Apple.

The new iPad features a 10.2-inch Retina display with True Tone — which allows automatic screen adjustments based on the ambient light and brightness — and a 12-megapixel Ultra Wide front camera with Center Stage. Center Stage is a feature launched with the iPad Pro earlier this year and enhances video calls by automatically panning the camera to keep users in view and detects others who join in. It can be used in both portrait and landscape orientation.

Apple Introduces 9th Generation iPad and New iPad Mini 3

The newly unveiled iPad Mini comes at a slightly higher $500 starting price but boasts a brand new A15 Bionic chip, with 80-percent faster performance compared to the previous generation. Together with CPU and GPU, the iPad Mini’s new Neural Engine enables a more seamless experience for apps, such as image recognition and language learning through the new Translate App.

Apple Introduces 9th Generation iPad and New iPad Mini 4

The iPad Mini has an all-screen design with an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display, 500 nits of brightness, features antireflective coating, and just like the iPad — has True Tone. Both cameras have been updated with a 12-megapixel rear camera with Focus Pixels and a larger f/1.8 aperture, and an Ultra-Wide front camera with a new 12MP sensor and a larger field of view.

iPad Mini also features a new USB-C port, same as iPad Air, which gives users flexibility when working with additional devices, for example, cameras whilst out on a location shoot. Apple claims it gives users 10-times faster data transfer speed.

Apple Introduces 9th Generation iPad and New iPad Mini 5

Furthermore, cellular models will feature 5G, making iPad Mini an attractive tablet for users who regularly travel or work outside of the office. It is also compatible with a wide array of accessories, such as the second-generation Apple Pencil, which attaches magnetically to the side of iPad Mini for wireless charging and pairing.

Both iPad models feature a new location for Touch ID, which is now situated on the top right of the device, just like on iPad Air. Both models are also built with 100-percent recycled aluminum in the enclosure as part of the company’s dedication to reducing environmental impact.

Apple Introduces 9th Generation iPad and New iPad Mini 6

Interested users can order both iPad models today on the Apple website, with units available from next week.

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Photoshop Update Offer Sky Replacement, Bug Fixes, and Healing Brush and Magic Wand on iPad

Photoshop Update Offer Sky Replacement, Bug Fixes, and Healing Brush and Magic Wand on iPad

Adobe is pushing out an update to Photoshop today that includes some improvements to its Sky Replacement feature, and they are adding some features to the iPad version of Photoshop.

There are also about 500 bug fixes which will be welcome news to Photoshop users who have seen some instability in recent releases.  There are also more minor updates to Bridge, Lightroom Classic, and of course Camera Raw.

Photoshop Desktop Changes

Sky Replacement now has many new skies to choose from and the ability to import up to 5,000 skies at once. There’s also a Get More Skies option. This link, also located inside the Sky Replacement dialog in Photoshop, takes you to Adobe’s Discover site, where you can download groups of professional, high-quality sky presets. There are night scenes, fireworks, and plenty of sunsets that are just a click away. You can access the skies from the settings icon in the sky replacement dialog. Adobe is offering some nice sky collections at no cost, you just have to browse packs you like, download, and then install them via the sky replacement dialog. Of course, most photographers will still want to load their own skies, a feature that has been there since the release of the Sky Replacement function.

Photoshop Update Offer Sky Replacement, Bug Fixes, and Healing Brush and Magic Wand on iPad 7

There are also improvements to the Transform Warp command, with independent Bezier handle movement. This keyboard shortcut control is available for edges and Split Warp points — giving people, like packaging designers, who need to stretch and bend images onto bottles, boxes, and other things, the ability to create previously impossible transformations.

There are numerous bug fixes (Adobe says about 500) including:

Across the application:

  • Canvas movement is smoother when zoomed in at maximum levels
  • Puppet warp mesh visualization improvements
  • Smoother handling of jitter opacity when painting
  • Error for scratch disk full provides link to troubleshooting document

Neural Filters:

  • Preset images now included for Style Transfer to provide a starting point
  • Use any custom image and apply the style of that image to your document
  • Superzoom now operates on the entire layer instead of only a cropped portion of the image. Use output>new document to apply superzoom to the entire document.

Photoshop for iPad

Photoshop now delivers the same Healing Brush capabilities on the iPad as on the desktop. Using your Apple Pencil, you can now correct imperfections by painting with sampled pixels from the image or pattern. Just as expected, texture, lighting, transparency, and shading of the sampled pixels are matched seamlessly — and new pixels blend into the rest of the image so you can retouch your images with precision. You will have all the settings and controls you want including diffusion, blend modes, and brush angle. You can find the healing brush under the healing tools on the toolbar.

Photoshop Update Offer Sky Replacement, Bug Fixes, and Healing Brush and Magic Wand on iPad 8

Adobe has also added the Magic Wand to the iPad app. It’s is useful to quickly extract objects from a flat background, select an irregularly shaped area, or select a distinctly colored element. With this tool, you can select areas of your images based on tone and color, easily adjust for tolerance and many other characteristics so you can get the most precise selection results. You can find the Magic Wand tool under the selection tools on the toolbar.

There’s More

Creative Cloud subscribers can now get into the Photoshop Beta Program. Creative Cloud members can install it from the Beta section of the Creative Cloud desktop app. Look for Photoshop Beta and simply click Install.

Adobe has also added what they call a Discover Panel. It provides an easy way to find content that is relevant to what you’re doing, right inside the app. Just initiate a search using Command+F (macOS) or Ctrl+F (Windows), or click the search icon in the app bar header.

Search for tools, menu items, workflows and choose the option you were looking for from the search results. The Discover panel also offers hands-on tutorials that guide you through workflows to learn new skills.

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Photoshop updates – for iPad too – and free virtual events

Photoshop updates - for iPad too – and free virtual events

Adobe has announced some additions and updates to Photoshop for iPad, as well as the ‘full-fat’ desktop version. Read on for more details, including a new Photoshop beta and some live virtual events

Photoshop for iPad

Healing Brush
Photoshop now delivers the same Healing Brush capabilities on the iPad as on the desktop. Using your Apple Pencil, you can correct imperfections by painting with sampled pixels from the image or pattern. Texture, lighting, transparency, and shading of the sampled pixels are matched — and new pixels blend into the rest of the image so you can retouch your images with precision. Key settings and controls, including diffusion, blend modes and brush angle, will be available. You can find the healing brush under the healing tools on the toolbar.

Photoshop updates - for iPad too – and free virtual events 9

Learn more about the Healing Brush in Photoshop on iPad here.

The Magic Wand tool
This Photoshop feature is useful to quickly extract objects from a flat background, select an irregularly shaped area, or select a distinctly coloured element. You can also select areas of your images based on tone and colour, adjust for tolerance and other characteristics for precise selection results. You can find the Magic Wand tool under the selection tools on the toolbar.

Photoshop updates - for iPad too – and free virtual events 10

Canvas Protection
This enables you to share your canvas or collaborate live on a larger screen. You can connect your iPad to any external monitor or TV display with HDMI or USB-C. This will project your canvas onto that display, full screen and without the Photoshop interface, letting you show your document as you edit it live. You can enable Canvas Projection within the app settings under General > Advanced.

Photoshop updates - for iPad too – and free virtual events 11

Photoshop on the desktop

Additional skies via Sky Replacement
More replacement skies have been added to this feature. The new Get More Skies option,  also located inside the Sky Replacement dialog in Photoshop, takes you to Adobe’s Discover site, where you can download groups of sky presets. “We’re bringing you the moon and the stars… literally,” says Adobe. “Night scenes, fireworks, and amazing sunsets are just a click away.

Photoshop updates - for iPad too – and free virtual events 12

Sky Replacement before…

Photoshop updates - for iPad too – and free virtual events 13

Sky Replacement after

Learn more about Sky Replacement here.

Transform Warp with independent Bezier handles
This keyboard shortcut control is available for edges and Split Warp points — making it much easier for package designers, for example, to make transformations. “This feature is even better when combined with the new colour and opacity customisation for warp guidelines that we shipped earlier this year.” said Adobe. “Now you can adjust them so they are easier to see against the colour of your image. You can tailor other settings such as when and how many warp guides to display.” This capability is located in the Options bar when Transform Warp is enabled.

Discover panel
The new Discover provides an easy way to find relevant content. You can initiate a search using Command+F (MacOS) or Ctrl+F (Windows), or click the search icon in the app bar header. The Discover panel also offers hands-on tutorials.

Photoshop updates - for iPad too – and free virtual events 14

Other key additions
A new beta of Photoshop is also debuting this month, with Creative Cloud members able give feedback directly to the Photoshop team. If you use the Fresco drawing app on iPad, you can also access new colour-based Adjustment Layers also enable you to make non-destructive tonal and colour edits to any layer or group (below). Fore more details on all the changes from Adobe, see this blog.

Photoshop updates - for iPad too – and free virtual events 15

Free virtual live events

Join photographer Anna McNaught and digital graphics expert Jesús Ramirez on Adobe Live as they showcase new Photoshop features on August 18th and 19th at 16:30-18:30 UK time

Anna & Jesús Day 1.

Anna & Jesús Day 2 

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Best stylus for iPad: Improved drawing & writing

Person using stylus for iPad

Best iPad stylus for photographers White, Apple stylus pencil for iPad Apple Pencil 2nd Generation

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Still one of the best digital pens on the market.

Best iPad stylus for artists Black, digital stylus pencil for iPad with palm rejection Adonit Note+ Digital Pencil with Palm Rejection

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A great alternative to the Apple Pencil.

Best iPad stylus for note-takers Orange and gray Logitech digital pencil for iPad Logitech Crayon Digital Pencil for iPad Pro

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A wonderful tool for taking notes.

By: Dan Bergstein

Time to give your fingers a rest and get better control of your work with the best styluses for iPads. Touting new, improved functions and a range of price points, the world of digital pens goes well beyond the iconic Apple Pencil. But how do you know which pen is the new king of iPad accessories and which is just a glorified twig? The stylus used for sketching and drawing may not be the best stylus for note-taking and photo editing. Explore your options, discover today’s latest and greatest features, and find the best stylus pen for artists, photographers, and anyone else who wants to get the most out of their iPad.

While using the official Apple Pencil seems like the obvious best choice for an iPad stylus, new features and precision from its competitors have opened up the stylus market. Today’s iPad styluses come in a wide variety of options, with plenty to choose from. But you don’t need to be overwhelmed. The most important part of any quality stylus is that it makes your work easier. Look for the options and ergonomics that suit your work. 

How much should you spend on a stylus?

There’s no denying that some of the best styluses for iPads have a shockingly scary price tag. Spending over $100 for something your finger can do for free is a huge barrier for entry to those new to stylus drawing. But many of these pricey pens are loaded with features that are well worth the money. 

For artists and designers, a stylus is required for creating content quickly and comfortably on an iPad. You’re paying for precision and convenience. Pressure-sensitive pens let users change line width on the fly, just like a real pen or brush. Tilt functions can also help cycle through different line types for shading. And high-tech sensors will detect and ignore your palm as it rests on the screen. Those bells and whistles aren’t cheap, but they are handy. 

If you don’t need all the pressure sensitivity in your drawing stylus, you can find inexpensive pens for less than $20. These get the job done, but only if the job is simple note-taking or doodling. The less expensive models are nothing more than a plastic barrel with a conductive rubber or plastic tip. However, they are a comfortable step up from using your fingers. 

Before the price of an iPad stylus sends you into recoil, look at the form and functions of these iPad accessories. The extra money may well be worth it if the tool eliminates frustration and increases productivity. 

Do you want a stylus that works well under pressure?

Pressure sensitivity is one of the biggest concerns for artists and designers. The ability to render lines of varying thickness in a natural motion makes sketching on a digital screen much easier. Programs like Photoshop recognize pressure-sensitive styluses and put them to good use. With a little practice, an old-school pen and paper artist will have complete control over their new digital canvas. 

Pressure-sensitive pens will need to sync up to your tablet (usually via Bluetooth) so the pen and the screen can communicate and give you the most accurate line possible. 

Tilt sensitivity allows users to alter the line like that of a traditional pencil. Tilt the stylus down and the side of the tip will create shaded markings. This is a fantastic tool for artists who do a lot of inking and shading to create shadow effects. However, if you’re just using the pen for note-taking, a tilt function may not be necessary. 

What type of tablet are you using?

Apple loves to update its products and operating systems. Before you buy any expensive stylus for iPads, check to make sure the pen is compatible with your current tablet. For example, the Apple Pencil 2nd Generation works with the iPad Pro 12.9 inch (3rd and 4th generation) and the iPad Pro11 inch (1st and 2nd generation). If your tablet is outdated, a new stylus will lose some (or all!) of its features. 

But don’t be afraid to pair another stylus brand like Adonit with your Apple product. These third-party pen makers have a proven track record of artist-worthy materials and will often work well with an iPad. Just read the specs and double-check that the pen is designed to work with your tablet.

The stylus must feel good in your hand

Do not overlook ergonomics. The stylus should feel solid, yet lightweight in your hand. Your thumb and forefinger should rest comfortably around the barrel. Your hand should not cramp even after twenty minutes of heavy use. And any additional buttons or controls should be easy to operate. 

You may think some iPad styluses look too big and bulky, but these larger pens actually feel great when you start using them. There will be a learning curve, especially for the more feature-rich styluses, so even if you don’t like the feel of the stylus right away, try it out for a few minutes if possible. It may look clunky, but after a couple of dashes and dots, you’ll get the hang of it and wonder how you ever worked with standard pens and pencils.

Don’t lose your iPad stylus

Losing a stylus is no laughing matter, especially if you paid $100 for the mighty pen. Even the best stylus for iPads has a tendency to disappear. The barrels of some stylus designs are round…very round. They will roll right off your desk if you’re not careful. There are magnetic pens and tablet cases that will keep your digital pen secured when not in use. Depending on the brand, you can even find dedicated pen holders that sit on your desk. A simple pocket clip can also ensure the stylus pen won’t scurry off the desk, or a  few strategically placed rubber bands may also do the tick. Whatever method you choose, don’t underestimate the stylus’s ability to slide away into the unknown.

The best stylus for iPads

No matter your budget, there is a new, high-quality stylus that can make creative work a whole lot easier. When you understand the different functions and features of the top tier digital pens, these new tools can be incredibly useful and worth the extra cash. But even if you need a simple stylus for jotting notes, there are new, affordable designs that feel great. 

The best iPad stylus for photographers: Apple Pencil 2nd Generation

White, Apple stylus pencil for iPad

High Quality Control

The industry leader still makes one of the best iPad accessories. Apple

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Let’s start with the all-star. The Apple Pencil 2nd Generation is the overall best stylus for drawing or photo editing on the iPad. It’s a precise instrument capable of multiple functions simply by tapping the side of the barrel. It works seamlessly with Lightroom, Affinity Photo, or Pixelmato. It connects magnetically to iPad Pro 12 and 11 for easy charging and device pairing. Simply set the pen along the top of your iPad and everything magically connects and charges. The second-generation Apple Pencil feels better than the original, with a matte finish and flat side that prevents it from rolling away. It’s not the cheapest stylus for iPads, but it is one of the best.  

The best iPad stylus for artists: Adonit Note+ Digital Pencil with Palm Rejection

Black, digital stylus pencil for iPad with palm rejection

Tons of Features

This stylus has all the power of an Apple Pencil in a less expensive package. Adonit

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Price matters, and not all of us can afford the $120 Apple Pencil. Fortunately, the Adonit Note+ has all the pressure and tilt sensitivity an artist needs for half the price of an Apple Pencil. Use the two shortcut buttons to make drawing and erasing easier. If your app of choice supports it, the Note+ has palm recognition sensitivity. And the pen feels solid and professional in your hand. The downside: No magnets. It must be charged via cable. And the pressure sensitivity is good, but not as great as the Apple Pencil. If you’re looking for a cheap alternative to the Apple Pencil but still want robust functionality, the Note+ is one powerful quill.

The best iPad stylus for note-takers: Logitech Crayon Digital Pencil for iPad Pro

Orange and gray Logitech digital pencil for iPad

Comfortable Grip

Jot down notes and ideas with a powerful stylus designed for everyone. Logitech

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Logitech had originally designed the Crayon digital pencil for schools, but it’s now one of the best all-around iPad styluses. The lines are fast and accurate, and the tilt control works well enough for quick doodles. If you need an iPad stylus for taking notes during a meeting or sketching out rough ideas, the Logitech Crayon is one of the best. The biggest drawback is the lack of pressure sensitivity, which means this isn’t ideal for serious artists who need greater control of the lines.  Plus, the price point is a bit too high for this to be a toss-in-the-backpack school stylus.  

The best iPad stylus for students: JAMEJAKE Stylus Pen for iPad with Palm Rejection

White stylus pen for iPad with palm rejection

Useful Palm Recognition

Give kids a powerful writing tool at a more affordable price. JAMJAKE

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An iPad can be your kid’s best friend, but trying to do school work on the screen is tough without a good stylus. The JAMEJAKE stylus has palm recognition, which is a must for kids who will easily get frustrated with unwanted lines and marks caused by their resting hands. At $25, it’s not the cheapest iPad stylus, but it will last longer than low-quality $5 styluses. This is the perfect stylus for students in middle school and high school who want to write and draw on their tablets. 

The best ipad stylus for multi-taskers: KECOW Active Stylus Pen Compatible for iOS&Android

White, aluminum stylus pen for iPad with dual touch function

Affordable and Versatile

Go from screen to screen with an inexpensive stylus that works with all tablets and smartphones. KECOW

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The KECOW Active Stylus is the mid-step between cheaply designed styluses that cost from $5 to a $50 high-quality digital writing instrument. There is no pressure or tilt sensitivity. There is no Bluetooth connectivity. This is a simple writing stylus that works well and feels great. Go from quick sketching on an iPad to writing notes on your smartphone without hassle or connectivity issues. Writing appears on screen without lag. It’s great for offices and meetings. Best of all, it’s more professional than the dollar store styluses and will make any work feel more important.   


Q: Can you use any stylus with an iPad? 

No, you can’t use any stylus with an iPad. Today’s styluses are high-tech writing tools with features like palm recognition, pressure sensitivity, and tilt responsiveness. To accomplish those features, the stylus will need to pair with the tablet. Some styluses will only work with Microsoft and Android devices, and some iPad styluses will only pair with the latest generation of Apple tablet. That’s why it’s important to read the specifications of any stylus to ensure it will work with your tablet. That said, if all you want is a simple stick for making marks and writing notes, you can use just about any stylus you want. But you’re giving up many of the fun functions of truly digital pens. 

Q: Is there a cheaper alternative to the Apple Pencil?

Yes, there is a cheaper alternative to the Apple Pencil. The Adonit Note+ is one of the best styluses you can get and costs much less than the Apple Pencil. It has all the functions of the Apple Pencil with one exception: It needs a cord to charge. The Apple Pencil uses conductive charging through its handy magnetic pen holder, making for a more elegant experience. But if you don’t mind charging your iPad stylus with a USB cable, the Adonit Note+ is a solid choice for the best stylus.

Q: Which is better: Apple Pencil or Logitech Crayon?

Between the Apple Pencil or the Logitech Crayon, the Apple-branded stylus is the clear winner. Engineered and designed specifically for iPads, the Apple Pencil works like a dream with easy connectivity, sensitive pressure control, and seamless app integration. The Logitech Crayon is a great stylus, but its lack of pressure sensitivity can be a dealbreaker for artists. The Crayon attempts to make up for it with a useful tilt function (tilt the stylus to create different line widths), but for professionals familiar with the pixel-precise pressure sensitivity of a Cintiq artist tablet, the Apple Pencil is the best all-around stylus for iPads.


The final word on the best stylus for iPads

There’s no shortage of iPad styluses with all types of functions and price points. The key is to find an iPad stylus that not only has all the functions you need, but with a price tag you can afford. For students and younger iPad users, you may want to save money and get a basic digital pen. For artists and photographers who need precision, a high-end iPad stylus is well worth the money. Check the make and model of your iPad to find a stylus that works. And don’t get frustrated straight away—it may take a while before you become comfortable with the new writing tool. With a little practice, the best stylus for an iPad makes any creative endeavor easier and more productive. 

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Capture One is Coming to iPad in ‘Early 2022’

Capture One is Coming to iPad in 'Early 2022'

Capture One is Coming to iPad in 'Early 2022' 16

Capture One, which recently announced an update for native support on Apple M1 computers, has announced that it is currently developing an iPad app. In a note on its website on Instagram, the company says to expect the app to become available in early 2022.

“M1 support is just the start,” the company writes. “We’re hard at work innovating Capture One to suit the way you edit today, and into the future. That’s why we’re excited to share that an iPad app is in the works – and coming to you in early 2022.”

The company did not provide any specifics on what to expect with an iPad version of its popular photo editing application, but in a recent interview with PetaPixel, CEO Rafael Orta explained that as part of its M1 transition, it actually completely overhauled its code base to allow the developers to more easily adapt the software to other uses.

“This is the beginning of the roadmap and the possibilities it opens up for us in terms of devices and networking is really fantastic,” Orta said. “I’m looking forward to getting this out the door, but really looking forward to what this looks like for the future of Capture One and for the future of photography software.”

The company’s announcement of iPad support points to that roadmap and backs up what Orta has said about the flexibility of the new re-architected Capture One.

The quotes below were not published in the original interview, but at the time Orta actually expressly noted the company’s excitement about developing Capture One for iPad.

Speaking about the prospect, Orta said it was hugely exciting and noted that the convergence of hardware to Capture One as a software company meant that he and his team were able to take more of their code and see how it would manifest across multiple devices.

“Firstly, the convergence of hardware means that we can take more and more of our code and reuse it across more and more devices and we are excited about the possibilities that opens up for us,” he said. “More importantly, we look at the future of how photographers in different categories can start to use multiple devices in their workflows. We’re just incredibly excited about the opportunities. As part of our roadmap this year, we looked at M1 and cloud capabilities, and of course, we’re excited about the iPad door opening up and what that potentially means for a photographer’s workflow. All these things are part of our plans and we have to ask how what we do fits into that workflow.”

In the first step of that process, Capture One on M1 already showed significant improvements in most performance metrics. How it will translate to iOS though — and how the company plans to monetize the platform — remains to be seen.

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How Good Is the 2020 iPad Air for Content Creators?

How Good Is the 2020 iPad Air for Content Creators?

Apple’s iPad line has long established itself as mature and powerful content consumption devices. However, in the past few generations, we have seen increasingly powerful processors, top-end screens, and the addition of useful tools (such as the Apple Pencil) also position the iPad as a versatile content creation device. If you are considering an iPad for your creative work, check out this fantastic review of the 2020 iPad Air.

Coming to you from The Hybrid Shooter, this excellent video review takes a look at the 2020 iPad Air, specifically from the standpoint of content creation. The iPad line has established itself as a powerful working tool (in fact, I am writing this on my iPad while sitting in a rehearsal), and it only continues to grow. Personally, the iPad is my favorite working device. It has a beautiful, vibrant screen that makes editing photos a joy, and working with the Apple Pencil makes for a very natural and ergonomically comfortable way to work (in addition, that has been my savior for teaching during the pandemic, allowing me to have a virtual chalkboard). Add in the all-day battery life and portability, and it simply can’t be beat in my book. Check out the video above for the full rundown. 

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iPad Pro Review: Closer than ever to replacing your laptop

iPad Pro Review: Closer than ever to replacing your laptop

Apps like Adobe's Lightroom still run smoothly on the iPad Pro.

Apps like Adobe’s Lightroom still run smoothly on the iPad Pro. (Stan Horaczek /)

I clicked into this window on the new iPad Pro using Apple’s Magic Trackpad. It seems like a small thing–I do it just about every day on a MacBook Pro. But, this isn’t a computer. Or it is a computer. Regardless of how Apple does or doesn’t market their tablet, I’ve been using the new iPad Pro as my main work machine for about a week now. And it’s closer to replacing a laptop than it ever has been.

From a hardware standpoint, the new iPad Pro isn’t wildly different from the previous version that debuted back in 2018. The processor has moved up from the A12X Bionic to the A12Z Bionic. As those cryptic but incremental names suggest, this isn’t a revolution in terms of silicon. In reality, though, it didn’t need much of a speed bump anyway. On the new iPad Pro, apps load quickly, intensive programs like Lightroom feel snappy, and it generally seems like it can handle whatever task you ask of it.

Mouse support

When it comes to usability, however, it’s the software that really changes the way you interact with the iPad Pro. The operating system—called iPadOS 13.4—now integrates full mouse support in the form of a shape-shifting cursor. The Magic Keyboard with an integrated touchpad is coming down the road, but for this review, I synced Apple’s Magic Touchpad meant for typical computers. Tap on the touchpad and a small circle appears to show you where you’re pointing. Get close enough to an icon or a button, and the cursor snaps over the object and takes on its shape.

It’s simple and natural when it works, which it does most of the time. There are still several places–including Safari–in which the new system is not totally integrated, but as it gets wider adoption, I can see myself getting extremely used to it.

The iPad Pro and Pencil 2 are still a very excellent pair.

The iPad Pro and Pencil 2 are still a very excellent pair. (Stan Horaczek /)

If you’re dealing with a lot of text, this really does make things a lot better. Some people have developed surgical accuracy when it comes to tapping in exactly the right spot to place a cursor in a document. I’m not one of them and, thankfully, the touchpad support has made selecting and manipulating text simpler.

The touchpad also helps with functions such as sliders and cropping in Lightroom. I’ll often release a slider or the corner of a cropping tool only to have it move slightly during separation. I didn’t get that with the touchpad, which translated into fewer instances of wanting to throw it across the room.

For now, the cursor is relegated to external input devices. You can hook up a mouse or a trackpad to take advantage of it. But, we won’t get the full effect until next month when Apple rolls out the swanky, $350 (for the 12.9-inch model) Magic Keyboard. It has an integrated touchpad in exactly the spot where I’ve accidentally tapped my desk expecting a touchpad when using the regular Smart Keyboard Folio.

In addition to its shape hanging tricks, the new mouse functionality also adds gesture control closer to what you’d find on a Mac laptop. Swipe up with three fingers to go home and swipe right with three fingers to switch between apps. Of course, you also get the two-finger natural scrolling, which Apple does far better than anyone at the moment.


There is, however, one major hardware update worth talking about: the new LIDAR sensor that lives inside the iPad Pro’s upgraded camera module. LIDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and it typically helps self-driving cars or rovers meant for other planets make 3D maps of their surroundings by sending out light and measuring how it bounces back. The iPad is doing something similar by creating intricate maps of the objects around it within a five-meter distance. It can then use that data to inform augmented-reality apps through ARKit 3.

Right now, there aren’t a ton of ways to really experience how much better AR is with the LIDAR sensor onboard the device. The native Measure app, however, takes full advantage of it. For the unfamiliar, Measure uses augmented reality to give you real world dimensions of physical objects, like a virtual ruler. It works…OK. It’s not something I’d trust for extremely accurate tasks, and that’s still true with the LIDAR-equipped version. It has, however, gotten a lot better and faster. The measurements seem more reliable, and pop up more quickly.

Apple says that AR app developers should notice an improvement in the performance of their apps without having to totally recode their software. But, there will be opportunities to specifically take advantage of some LIDAR functions.

The Magic Trackpad will eventually give way to the upcoming Magic Keyboard, which has a built-in trackpad and arrives in May.

The Magic Trackpad will eventually give way to the upcoming Magic Keyboard, which has a built-in trackpad and arrives in May. (Stan Horaczek /)

The rest of the features

Again, not a ton has changed here from a hardware standpoint, so if you’re familiar with the 2018 iPad Pro, picking this up will feel very similar.

Apple has revamped the microphones, which is a great addition for a Pro device. We also saw the company put a lot of emphasis on built-in mics for the latest MacBook Pro as well.

The battery truly does last all day, at least in the larger 12.9-inch model I’ve been trying out. I’ve put roughly 9 hours in on this device today and it still has 10 percent battery life despite some work in Lightroom.

Apple also says it has made some hardware changes to the thermal performance to keep the components cooler inside, It wasn’t specific about what exactly those changes are, but it stays cool to the touch even hinder heavy load.

Lastly, the screen is still gorgeous. It has a smooth-scrolilng 120 Hz refresh rate. The 240 Hz touch-sensing is extremely responsive. The maximum brightness is literally too bright for indoors and totally usable even outside.

Who should buy it?

This is where we run into the overly complex meaning of the phrase “pro” when it comes to gadgets. To be clear, the 11-inch iPad starts at $799 and the 12.9-inch model begins at $999. If you want the Magic Keyboard down the road, it will cost you an extra $300 or $350 depending on which size you get. And you’re going to want a Pencil 2, which tacks another $100 onto the bill. And while the base storage options have moved up from a paltry 64 GB to 128 GB, going beyond that is going to cost you. Storage of 256 GB costs an extra $100 and 512 GB will set you back an extra $300 over the base model. Going all the way up to 1 TB pushes the 12.9-inch model up to $1,499. That’s a lot of numbers to digest, but it’s simple to distill: It’s as expensive as a good laptop.

For pro creatives, it’s very useful as a secondary tool. As a photographer, I love it for editing individual photos, doing Lightroom sorts without having to worry about my laptop burning through its battery and, most importantly, showing people photos on the awesome screen. But, as a main workflow device, it’s not quite there yet because exporting and uploading images to various fulfillment sites is still tedious and unreliable.

For videography, it’s great for even some complex projects, but there’s still no Final Cut to help fully make the jump.

If you have a 2018 or later iPad pro, it’s not necessary to run out and upgrade right now unless you plan to get heavy into augmented reality. If you’re just answering emails, typing into docs, and watching Netflix, the Pro is a more-than-capable replacement for a laptop, but then again, so are the other, cheaper iPad models.

Ultimately, I was glad to get back to my laptop for my regular workdays, but the iPad feels more viable than ever as a complete replacement. I expect that will be even more applicable once the Smart Keyboard case lands in May.

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