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Here's a workflow that works on Google Photos but doesn't seem to work on Lighroom.
1) I take a picture using the iOS camera app. The picture lands in my Camera Roll
2) I open Lightroom Cc on my iPhone. The picture is then added to Lighroom
3) I make some edits to the picture in Lightroom Cc
4) The edited picture is only available within Lightroom Cc, and if I want to have this edited version in my Camera Roll, I need to export it and manually add it to camera roll, which is tedious.
Google Photos for example, or Pixelmator on my iPad do not work the same way. They both take as a starting point a merge of the cloud version of their library PLUS my camera roll as is. If a picture comes from the camera roll and I edit it in the 3rd party app (Google or Pixelmator), then there's a prompt "do you allow APP_NAME to modifiy the picture in camera roll", and then everything remains in sync with my camera roll. Well, I do understand that Lightroom and Adobe Cloud are less deeply integrated.
Finally, here's my question: is there an easy way to sync my edits made in Lightroom back to my iOS camera roll, without having to go through a full "export" then "save to camera roll" process?
Thanks for reaching out & for your question! Lightroom mobile does not work this way. It maintains it's own image Library separately from the camera roll of the device & does not sync back to it. Currently, the only way to have the edited version of the image in the Camera Roll is to export the image & have a copy of it in the camera roll.
Lightroom is a non-destructive editor. That means that it does not alter the pixels of the original image, but stores the edits in a catalog. Only when you need the image for something, you export it and then the edits are applied to the exported copy. That explains why your suggested workflow is simply not possible. I assume that the reason why Google or Pixelmator can do this is because they do alter the pixels. They are not non-destructive.
Thanks for your message which makes sense.
That being said, both Google and Pixelmator are also non destructive, they
simply store on their end the original version of the picture so that they
can revert at any time... So I'm not sure why LR couldn't do the same to be
That is not non-destructive editing. That is making a copy so the original is not edited at all. It is what Lightroom does when you export an image.
I think that the power of Lightroom is that it does not do that. If you use Lightroom as intended, then you only export images if and when you need them. You export them directly in the size that you need: if you need a copy for a website then you may export an 800 pixels wide image, for example. Maybe you want to add a watermark as well. And if you want to order a print, you export it at full resolution. Because you can do this each time you need it, you can delete the exported images after you've used them. No need to clutter your camera roll and device disk space with copies you could easily recreate anyway.