Verdict: 4 stars
ON1 360 offers a similar online sync/mobile experience to Lightroom CC and Lightroom mobile. You need to buy a subscription that’s a little cheaper, but not by much, and you get options which are more useful or less useful, depending on what you are looking for. It’s a great add-on for ON1 Photo RAW fans but not definitively better than the Adobe Lightroom alternative.
- Slightly cheaper than the Adobe alternative
- Flexibility in what to sync
- Your images are stored locally
- Not all desktop edits supported on mobile
- No web editing/browsing option
- No sync without a subscripton
ON1 has launched its ON1 360 cloud-based image syncing service. The principle is the same as Lightroom’s Creative Cloud and Lightroom mobile app. It means you can view and edit your images on a mobile device in the ON1 Photos app and have your adjustments synchronised between your mobile device and desktop computer and vice versa.
ON1 360 works with ON1 Photo RAW 2020, which can still be bought and used separately as a standalone program. You can buy ON1 360 as an add-one service if you already have ON1 Photo RAW 2020, or get both as part of a combined subscription.
ON1 360 plans and costs
|Offer||200GB plan||1TB plan|
|Service add-on (ON1 Photo RAW 2020 bought separately)||$59.99/year||$109.99/year|
|$5.99/month (available June 2020)||$9.99/month (available June 2020)|
|Software + service (includes ON1 Photo RAW 2020)||$89.99/year||$179.99/year|
|$7.99/month (available June 2020)||$15.99/month (available June 2020)|
There are lots of similarities between the ON1 360 service and the Adobe option, but some important differences too.
ON1 360 vs Lightroom mobile: the similarities
In the early days of development, ON1 said its new service would use third party cloud storage providers like Dropbox. This hasn’t proved possible. ON1 now says it needs to run the service from its own servers to provide the features needed.
The upshot is that ON1 360 is a proprietary cloud service just like Adobe Creative Cloud, and you have to pay a subscription to use it in just the same way. The charges are a little lower and the plans are slightly different, but the principle is the same.
ON1 360 offers the option of full image uploads or low-resolution ‘proxy’ images just like Adobe’s Smart Previews, which have all the color and tonal data of a RAW file but are just 25% of the size. You can edit them and have your edits synced back to your desktop library, and they are large enough for online use, social sharing and small-medium sized prints.
It’s a way of minimising the size and cost of cloud storage while retaining editing flexibility.
ON1 360 vs Lightroom mobile: the differences
ON1 is keen to stress the advantages of its own cloud storage and synchronisation system, so here’s a closer look.
- You can store your library locally. With Lightroom mobile, you can use Lightroom Classic and sync selected collections using Smart Previews via the cloud, or use Lightroom CC, where all your full size images are stored in the cloud and cached locally. ON1 is right to point out that ON1 360 gives you storage choices that Lightroom does not, but only if you are comparing it with Lightroom CC. Lightroom Classic does let you store your photos on your computer.
- You can choose to sync full images or smaller files. You don’t get this choice in Lightroom. In Lightroom CC, all your images are stored in the cloud and that’s it. In Lightroom Classic, you can only share Smart Previews, not full size images.
- The basic plan offers 10x the storage. The basic Adobe Photography Plan offers only 20GB storage, which won’t get you very far when you start syncing images, especially with Lightroom CC. The basic ON1 360 plan offers 200GB of storage, which might be all you need if you stick to the smaller preview image format. However, Adobe’s 20GB is effectively free with your software subscription, whereas ON1’s basic plan carries a significant monthly or annual cost.
- ON1 360 offers cheaper storage, but not by much. You do not get any free storage simply by buying ON1 Photo RAW, whereas you get 20GB with the basic Adobe Photography Plan. You have to buy a subscription plan to get ON1 360, either as an add-on to your existing ON1 Photo RAW license, or as a larger subscription plan which includes the software and the 360 services. Adobe does not offer an equivalent of the 200GB ON1 360 Plan, and the two companies’ 1TB plans actually cost he same as add-ons if you pay for ON1 360 month-by-month, and you can only make savings by committing to an annual ON1 360 subscription or a software + subscription package.
- You don’t get web browsing and editing. With Lightroom you can browse your images and edit them in a regular web browser, and share collections publicly too. That option does not currently exist in ON1 360.
- You can sync more selectively. With ON1 360 you can sync folders or albums and you can choose individually whether to sync a lower resolution preview image or the full image file. In Lightroom, you either sync all your full res files in Lightroom CC or Smart Previews and Collections only in Lightroom Classic.
ON1 360: the verdict
I haven’t been using it long, but ON1 360 does exactly what it says. You can sync folders or albums, the uploads and syncing seems about as fast as any other service, and images appear on my iPhone and iPad quite quickly once synced. I haven’t tested it on Android but I assume it works in just the same way.
The ON1 Photo app is, not surprisingly, more primitive than the desktop application, so while it’s fine for tweaks and fixes, you’ll still need the desktop version for proper editing.
I also found that the mobile app could display but not edit some of my more complex edits I had made on the desktop because it did not support those features and warned me that editing wasn’t possible.
ON1 360 works exactly as described, but while it’s definitely an interesting alternative to Adobe’s cloud ecosystem, I wouldn’t say it’s better or indeed significantly cheaper. For all its faults, Adobe’s Lightroom desktop-web-mobile ecosystem is fluent, effective and gives a consistent look and feel across platforms (albeit not with Lightroom Classic, only Lightroom CC).
For fans of ON1 Photo RAW, it’s a very useful and very interesting add-on service that brings the ON1 software experience ever closer to Adobe’s. In many respects ON1 Photo RAW is more versatile, powerful and effective, so even if the ON1 360 service is neither ground breaking nor especially money-saving, it’s a very important add-on.
However, if you are starting from scratch and choosing one cloud syncing ecosystem over another, the Adobe Photography Plan setup is not much more expensive but is a more mature product that works on three platforms (web browsers are the third) not two.