Monday, November 4, 2019

“Real” Photoshop for iPad

Michael Steeber:

A full, desktop-class version of Photoshop on iOS has been one of the most hotly anticipated creative apps for designers and artists since the original iPad’s introduction in 2010. In the years since, competitors have released their own products hoping to fill the void, but can’t offer true integration with Creative Cloud that existing Photoshop customer have come to expect. Today at 2018’s Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles, Adobe is answering the requests of the creative community by previewing what it calls real Photoshop CC for iPad.

Mark Gurman and Nico Grant:

Adobe has been testing Photoshop for iPad under the codename Rocket with a small group of beta testers since earlier this year. Participants have told Bloomberg News that some beta versions don’t include well-established features they expected to be part of the release. They complained about less advanced or missing features around core functionality like filters, the pen tool and custom paintbrush libraries, vector drawing, color spaces, RAW editing, smart objects, layer styles and certain options for mask creation.


“I understand it is based on desktop Photoshop code, but it doesn’t feel like it right now.” Other testers have called the app “rudimentary” and said, in its current state, it is inferior to other apps like Procreate and Affinity on the iPad.

John Gruber (tweet):

From what I gather, the mistake Adobe made was not precisely setting expectations for the initial release of Photoshop for iPad. When Adobe described it as “real” Photoshop, what a lot of people heard was “full” Photoshop, and that was never the plan. Some of this expectation-setting is attributable to Bloomberg, which described the project as “the full version of its Photoshop app” as far back as July last year.

Photoshop for iPad is real because it is using the same code base that’s been running on the desktop for decades. That’s an amazing technical accomplishment. Photoshop for iPad is not full — and the initial release was never planned to be — because it only exposes a subset of features from the desktop version.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

I’d phrase it more like: Adobe is years late to what Serif is doing with Affinity Photo on iOS, and it’s no surprise that it might take years to catch up. It’s up to Serif to really take advantage of that lead while they can

John Voorhees (tweet, MacRumors):

It’s against this backdrop of rumors and hype that Photoshop for iPad has emerged finally. Mindful of the outsized expectations that were created, Adobe takes great pains in its announcement today to explain that Photoshop for iPad 1.0 ‘is just the beginning,’ emphasizing that the new app is built on the same code base as the desktop version but optimized for touch. The company also stresses that its new cloud-based PSD file architecture will allow users to move seamlessly between platforms.

That’s good news, but not the same as the ability to substitute one app for the other. What users can accomplish on the new iPad app is more limited than the desktop. Adobe says the initial release focuses on compositing, masking, and basic retouching, which I can confirm from my limited use of the app. Those are core Photoshop features that many users will welcome, but desktop Photoshop can do much more. So, for the time being, Adobe is positioning its new iPad app as an accessible way to introduce Photoshop to new users, a complement to the desktop version, and a companion app for professional users.

Russell Ivanovic:

Alternate take: Photoshop for iPad is going to be and feel like Photoshop Lite forever. Adobe sucks at this. I can’t see them ever getting it right.

Lightroom, certainly, remains very different from the “classic” desktop version. Of course, Microsoft Office, iWork, and Omni’s apps are also “real” but not “full.”

Dave Mark:

Looks like Photoshop for iPad does NOT support RAW.

This seems like a huge deal to me.

Eli Schiff:

I’d like to write off the cuff about the evaluation of design tools based on my thorough usage of @photoshop @sketch and @figmadesign

Update (2019-11-07): Scott Belsky:

a real-time v1 lesson: you’ve gotta ship an MVP to start the journey, but it will be painful at first. by definition, it won’t please everyone (and if it’s a reimagination of a 30yr old popular/global product, will displease many)

Bob Burrough:

Changing the way the user interacts with software (replacing mouse+keyboard with multitouch) is a major, fundamental change. Adobe did not carefully manage expectations. Instead, they misled their customers by describing it as “real” Photoshop.

For Apple’s part, they had no qualms letting Adobe take center stage to make such a claim. Apple has been trying to convince us for years that iPad is a suitable replacement for mouse+keyboard PC’s. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. It will never be the case.


Keyboard+mouse is better at open-ended computing that requires high bandwidth input. iPad is far superior at mobility. Apple Pencil and Wacom tablets are far more expressive than mouse or multitouch will ever be. But, different they remain.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

This feels like at least the third time that Adobe announces "real Photoshop" for mobile devices. I think my favorite "real Photoshop" was Photoshop Touch. It did the things I wanted from Photosohp on my phone, and it did them in a convenient way. Sadly, it was discontinued in 2015.

The iPad will be a real replacement for a desktop soon... just like the pub that offers "Free beer tomorrow!"

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