Originally posted on 5 November 2019. Scroll down for news of the 1.6 update.
Adobe has released Photoshop for iPad, a new version of its image-editing and digital painting software “reimagined” for use on mobile devices.
The iOS app, which includes a core set of Photoshop features adapted for touchscreen use, is subscription-only, either via Adobe’s Creative Cloud plans, or via its own in-app payments.
The release was announced at Adobe MAX 2019, along with After Effects 17.0, Character Animator 3.0, Dimension 3.0, Photoshop 21.0 and Premiere Pro 14.0, plus new iOS augmented reality authoring app Aero.
The ‘real’ Photoshop, adapted for use on mobile devices
First announced at Adobe MAX last year, Photoshop for iPad is built on the same code base as the desktop edition of Photoshop, unlike previous Adobe apps like Photoshop Express.
It’s intended to produce identical results to the desktop edition, exchanging files with it either via standard export formats like PSD, TIFF, JPG and PNG, or via a new cloud documents system.
However, it currently includes only a very restricted subset of Photoshop features: Adobe says that the initial release is “focused on compositing, basic retouching and masking”.
Still a lot of key features to come in future updates
In Adobe’s official user forum, the response to the initial release has been fairly lukewarm, with one poster calling the feature set a “huge disappointment“.
In particular, users have singled out the lack of support for RAW images, curves adjustments and the lack of an option to import custom brushes as stumbling blocks to serious work.
In its blog post, Adobe describes the 1.0 release as just “the beginning” and says that it will “add more capabilities and workflows as we learn more about how customers use Photoshop on a mobile device”.
“We know we have more work to do and we encourage you to share what’s important to you after you’ve tried the product,” the company said.
Unlike its key competitors, Photoshop for iPad is also a subscription-only product.
Via in-app purchases, it costs $9.99/month, compared to one-off payments of $9.99 for Savage Interactive’s digital painting app Procreate, or $19.99 for the mobile edition of Serif’s image editor Affinity Photo.
However, we imagine that the majority of early users will effectively be getting the app for free, since Photoshop for iPad is also bundled with subscriptions to the desktop software.
Other news: Fresco now available for Windows tablets, Illustrator for iPad due next year
In related news, Adobe has announced Illustrator for iPad: an equivalent app for vector design work, again “reimagining” the desktop application for use on a mobile device.
The firm has also released Fresco 1.1, an update to its new professional digital painting tool for mobile devices, making the app available on Windows as well as iOS.
Updated 21 February 2020: Adobe has released Photoshop for iPad 1.2, adding support for more type properties, including tracking, leading, baseline shift, font scaling and character styles.
The update also adds the new AI-driven automated object selection system introduced in the desktop edition of the software in Photoshop 21.0 last year.
Since our original story, Adobe has also published a blog post listing other features coming to Photoshop for iPad during 2020, including curve adjustments.
Updated 22 April 2020: Adobe has released Photoshop for iPad 1.3. The update adds one new feature: auto-activation of missing fonts in documents, providing they are available in the Adobe Fonts library.
Users buying Photoshop for iPad via in-app purchases on the App Store also now get Fresco, and vice versa. Both apps were already available as part of subscriptions to the desktop edition of Photoshop.
Updated 19 May 2020: Adobe has released Photoshop for iPad 1.4.
There are two additions this time round, one of which rectifies one of the key omissions from the original release: it is now possible to use any of the standard Photoshop Curves adjustments on images.
Apple Pencil users get the option to adjust the pressure sensitivity of the stylus.
Updated 16 June 2020: Adobe has released Photoshop for iPad 1.5. The update adds a single new feature: the option to round-trip images with Lightroom via a new Send to Lightroom command.
Updated 28 July 2020: Adobe has released Photoshop for iPad 1.6.
The update makes it possible to refine the edge of a selection in a similar way to the desktop edition, making it possible to create more accurate cutouts of semi-transparent objects like hair.
In addition, users can now rotate the canvas freely, using the standard iPad two-finger gesture.
Pricing and system requirements
Photoshop for iPad itself is available for iOS 13.1+. You can trial it for free, but you have to make in-app purchases of $9.99/month to continue using it if you don’t have another qualifying subscription.
Photoshop subscriptions, which also include Photoshop for iPad and Fresco, cost $31.49/month or $239.88/year. All App subscriptions cost $79.49/month or $599.88/year.
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