Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Bringing Photoshop to the iPad


Adobe previewed two future mobile apps designed to usher in a new era of multi-surface creation while complementing workflows across Adobe’s existing flagship desktop applications:

  • Photoshop CC on iPad: Redesigned for a modern touch experience, Photoshop CC on iPad will deliver the power and precision of its desktop counterpart. Photoshop CC on iPad will let users open and edit native PSD files using Photoshop’s industry-standard image-editing tools and will feature the familiar Photoshop layers panel. With Photoshop CC across devices, coming first to iPad in 2019, you will be able to start your work on an iPad and seamlessly roundtrip all of your edits with Photoshop CC on the desktop via Creative Cloud.
  • Project Gemini: A new app designed to accelerate drawing and painting workflows across devices, Project Gemini, coming first to iPad in 2019, combines raster, vector and new dynamic brushes into a single app experience built for drawing. Project Gemini enables artists to use and sync their favorite Photoshop brushes and works seamlessly with Photoshop CC.

Dami Lee:

Adobe really wants you to know that the upcoming Photoshop CC for the iPad, which was announced today and is set to be released sometime in 2019, is “real Photoshop.”

The phrase “real Photoshop” came up several times during my week-long preview of an early version of the software giant’s long-awaited app. The underlying code is the same as desktop Photoshop, and although the interface has been rethought for the iPad, the same core tools line the edges of the screen.

Scott Belsky:

I’m going to go on a limb here and say that the era of the file is over. I think that a creation is really a combination of components. Look at a Photoshop “file.” What is it really? It’s a collection of fonts, images and layers of edits and other things taken in from other places, composited together. It’s a collection. All those components, those ingredients of that composition both still exist in their original form as well as their combined altered form, which is ultimately the composition you’re making in a PSD.

What we’ve done — what powers Photoshop on iPad — is what we call the Cloud PSD. The Cloud PSD is in a sense, a manifest of all of these ingredients together.

Underneath the hood, this is a manifest of all the components that you sourced from original sources and then altered into this composition that is what you visually see in Photoshop and iPad, and Photoshop on desktop when you open it. When we ship Photoshop on iPad, [Cloud PSDs] will also run and automatically show up on your desktop product. Suddenly, you’ll have this cloud-powered roundtrip experience akin to a Google Docs experience, where literally the source of truth of your Photoshop creation is in the cloud.

Michael Steeber (MacRumors):

When questioned by Belsky about the role of a creative professional at Apple today, Schiller said creativity has been the foundation of Apple from the very beginning. While the company’s dedication to creativity and the arts hasn’t changed, the technology has, he added. “We never envisioned this would happen,” said Schiller in reference to Photoshop on the iPad.

John Gruber:

The “touch modifier” button is a great idea. It’s a button in the corner that you can press and hold to toggle the current tool. E.g. if you’re using a paintbrush, you can press the touch modifier button to turn it into the eraser. Let go of the button and your tool is back to the paintbrush.

Colin Cornaby:

I think Photoshop on iPad is cool. I also think too many of the hot takes today ignore that professionals use workflows that are a combination of lots of hardware and software. Not just a single application.

Colin Cornaby:

Kind of surprised no one has mentioned memory in talking about Photoshop on iPad. Photoshop can typically use way more than 4 gigs (32 bit limit) on more intensive projects, which is more memory than an iPad ships with. Add in that iOS shuts down apps that use too much memory...

Maybe Adobe is adding their own virtual memory/paging system? Could still be a lot of disk.

Update (2018-10-19): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Michael Steeber:

Lyell prefers the term “real Photoshop” over “full Photoshop” when describing the software. The goal isn’t to clone the app for iOS, but to replicate the core experience.


One of the features destined to migrate to the iPad is support for third-party paintbrushes. Adobe wants the brushes you already own to eventually sync right from the desktop. The Photoshop team is exploring support for actions, too, although its priority will be determined by customer demand. 3D features, largely redundant thanks to Dimension CC, may not make the cut.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

I would be surprised if the 2017 and 2018 iPads don’t get virtual memory paging. This seems to dovetail with the trajectory iPad Pro seems to be on, to become more ‘computer-y’

Joe Groff:

Even without OS swap, an app can mmap their own “swap” out of a file on disk. Older A-series chips had pretty restricted virtual address spaces in hardware though

Maxwell Swadling:

I wouldn’t do it that way, then you get 100ms uncontrollable page faults. Better to wire / unwire the regions before and after using the regions. App is always better informed than the OS at data access patterns

Greg Parker:

VM swap also quickly burns through SSD write cycles. I know that was a strike against swap back in the day; I assume it would still be a problem now.

David Smith:

Yup. The limited form of it in use now explicitly budgets write cycles.

Jeff Perry:

Despite my criticism on Apple not providing apps that are pro apps, I will say that there is no tablet in the Android, Chromebook, and probably the Windows ecosystem, that is as beautifully designed and well thought out as those on the iOS ecosystem, especially the iPad. If I were to look for something like Affinity Designer and Lumafusion in a Tablet form I sincerely doubt I would find anything that is as close to the intersection of beauty and function like those available on the iPad.

If ever there were a time to think about replacing that old MacBook Air with an iPad, I would say that time is now. With Adobe releasing more iPad apps in 2019 and almost certainly new iPads coming in the next month or two, I think right now is the perfect time to think about what you can do with the iPad and really consider if it can be a replacement for you in your day to day work and life. For me, it absolutely is.

Update (2018-10-24): Steve Troughton-Smith:

One very interesting thing that Adobe mentioned about Photoshop for iPad is that it only took two engineers to port it, as a skunkworks project. Just goes to show how one or two people can make a huge difference

Chris Johnson:

I think it’s incontrovertible that Apple’s pro design customers would have been better served by a Mac with Pencil support rather than being forced to wait for a pro apps and workflows to come to the iPad.

It’s exciting that “real” Photoshop is coming to the iPad nine years after the iPad was first released. The iPad should be able to do more things and do them well. But that’s also nine years Apple’s pro customers were left to use ungainly Wacom products if they needed a stylus.

It also remains to be seen if pro designers and artists will be happy working in the confines of iOS where file management and multitasking are still in their infancy.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

> Despite my criticism on Apple not providing apps that are pro apps,
> I will say that there is no tablet in the Android, Chromebook, and
> probably the Windows ecosystem, that is as beautifully designed
> and well thought out as those on the iOS ecosystem, especially the
> iPad

I'm not sure I understand the sentence properly (are there non-iPad tablets in the iOS ecosystem?), but there are plenty of non-iOS tablets that are easily on par with the iPad when it comes to hardware design: things like the Surface Pro, the Surface Book, the Pixel Slate, and plenty of similar devices from other manufacturers.

Interestingly, the Jeff Perry link now leads to a 404. But I agree he's basically saying he's already made up his mind about tablets and doesn't want to consider other options.

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