OS X Requirements: OS X 10.7+ on a multicore Intel processor, 2GB RAM
iOS Requirements: iOS 4.2+, iPhone 3GS+, iPad 1+, iPod touch 4th gen or better
Price: Free app, $5.99 monthly subscription
Availability: Out now
Adobe Revel (formerly Adobe Carousel) aims to be your single, cloud-enabled photo library, accessible across all your Macs and iDevices. Your photos live in Adobe’s cloud and are accessible through the apps on each platform: OS X, iOS, and (coming soon) Android and Windows. Built-in adjustment options let you tweak your photos, while precisely controlled sharing options let you add other users to your library or share more freely through publicly available albums.
The Revel interface is designed around a novel photo organization concept called Tracks, which are horizontal arrangements of photos either by date or by event. Browsing left to right involves a simple swipe on the iPhone/iPad, and use of a scroll bar on the Mac. Tracks replace the concept of Events/Projects in iPhoto/Aperture, and are arranged in reverse chronological order top to bottom.
To import photos on a Mac you can use File->Import or simply drag photos onto the Revel window from any source (iPhoto, SD Card, etc.). On an iDevice, there is a “+” button that lets you take pictures or add them from the camera App. Once added to Revel, you can group photos into events, or add them to an album. Creating/browsing albums is a cinch, and albums are useful if you want to present pictures from multiple tracks or for sharing purposes (more on that below).
When it comes to viewing other’s shared photos (again, see below), the Revel app on iPhone/iPad let you export full-res photos to the camera roll if you wish to save a shot. You can connect to multiple shared libraries within the Revel app, though, so you no longer need to get copies of pictures someone else took. On a Mac, you can export the photo to a folder, but not directly into another photo management tool, so it is definitely easier to use Revel as your organization app. Captions can also be added to photos, though the thought-bubble-with-a-mountain-inside-it Captions button is not the most helpfully labeled.
Revel aims to provide one-stop shopping for not only organizing but also for adjusting photos, and the tools will not disappoint casual picture takers and amateur photogs looking for an easy way to share their work. Revel is by no means a replacement for Photoshop, Lightroom, or Aperture, but if you find yourself satisfied with Instagram and iPhoto for editing, Revel is a much more convenient single source of organizing/editing. All the adjustment tools feature simple slider-based controls, and offer easy-to-understand adjustment options (slide to increase/decrease an effect).
Adjustments available in the Revel app (and they are available across all versions) include:
- Red eye: A simple removal tool that requires you to click on each red eye. The app handles everything.
- White balance: You can choose Auto (where the app handles the heavy lifting), use the slider, or drill into this setting for precise control over temperature and tint.
- Exposure: Similar to WB settings, you can choose from Auto, a simple slider, or use the drill-down to adjust Highlights and Shadows independently.
- Contrast: This tool does not offer an auto correction, but does have the simple slider and drill-down specifics for Clarity and Vibrance adjustments.
- Looks: Similar to filters, the looks allow you to apply custom blends of settings to achieve a particular feeling in a photo, ranging from romantic soft focus to pastel tones, punchy colors to a full range of black & white and sepia tones.
- Crop & Rotate: Fairly self explanatory, this adjustment lets you crop, rotate, straighten, or flip your pictures.
Sharing is by permission only, not by default, making Revel is a much safer and more private alternative than social photo apps, which can be fun to use but are less than ideal for sharing private family memories. You can share your entire library with up to 50 named people (whom you identify by email address), which is perfect for swapping photos with extended family members as everybody can contribute, view, and download pictures among the group. In order to access the library, a copy of the Revel app is required, meaning your shared library users must be on a Mac or iDevice; Windows and Android support are coming soon.
You can also share out a link to just a single album, which only requires a web browser and does not require the recipients to sign in. Albums are shared at adoberevel.com, and are obviously the perfect choice for sharing with users who only need to see images from a specific event, but not your entire photo history. When viewing an album, the Share icon is highlighted in blue to indicate an album is currently being shared. This is a crucial distinction that is lacking in so many photo sharing apps/social networks, which are designed to broadcast all your photos by default. Professional photogs will likely be hampered by the fact that there is no plugin for Lightroom/Aperture allowing them to export albums directly into Revel, but families looking to share snapshots will find Revel’s sharing perfect.
Hands down the best Revel interface is on the iPad. The iPad and OS X versions look 100% the same (the iPhone is similar, but for obvious reasons the smaller screen requires some buttons to be moved), but the iPad’s integration of touch gestures really makes this a standout photo management tool. The entire interface is simple, uncluttered, and feels custom-made for the iPad; while it has less editing options than iPhoto for iPad, Revel still feels like a smoother, less cluttered app.
On the Mac, there are no touch gestures like swiping back and forth between pictures or pinching to zoom; with so many gesture-enabled apps it just feels weird to have to click a button. The intra-app sharing on iPhone/iPad really shines, with quick and easy import from/export to the device’s camera roll. Shuttling pictures between Revel and iPhoto on a Mac is simple enough, but just feels clunkier—you have to either drag & drop or save photos to a file, then import them.
In all, Adobe’s Revel is a strong contender for your cloud-based photo storing, adjusting, and sharing. It provides a great set of tools for basic photo editing that cover the needs of amateur point-and-shooters or casual family snapshots, and the sharing options let you control exactly who sees your photos, rather than broadcasting them to the world. The app is available with a free 30-day trial, and is only $5.99/month thereafter for an unlimited number of devices on your account. The monthly subscription is billed and managed through your iTunes account, and you can choose to use your Facebook or Gmail credentials to sign in, rather than creating another username and password to remember.
Download Adobe Revel