Adobe announced that it would bring the full version of its flagship Photoshop application to the iPad in late 2018, a tremendous boost for a platform that Apple has trumpeted as the successor to the PC. But many months have passed since that announcement with no release in sight, leading many to wonder what’s happening.
Now we know. Squeezing a mammoth legacy application with thousands of commands onto an iPad is a hard computer science problem. And the first version is going to ship soon with several key features missing.
“Feature-wise, it feels like a beefed-up cloud-based version of their existing iPad apps and not ‘real Photoshop’ as advertised,” one beta tester told Bloomberg. “I understand it is based on desktop Photoshop code, but it doesn’t feel like it right now.”
Other beta testers have described the iPad version of the app as “rudimentary” and “inferior” to other iPad creativity apps like Procreate and Affinity.
That’s not what Adobe claimed last year.
“Redesigned for a modern touch experience, Photoshop CC on iPad will deliver the power and precision of its desktop counterpart,” the Adobe announcement noted. “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.”
But as I wrote in my analysis of this announcement last October, those reading between the lines might have seen this coming.
“The big deal here is getting PSD—the native Photoshop file format—working on iPad. This enables users to use a new device type as part of their normal workflow,” I wrote. “Second, I think that the ‘start your work on an iPad’ bit is key. Adobe doesn’t (yet) believe that most Photoshop users will actually complete their work on an iPad. But they will start some projects there. And then ‘roundtrip’ them to a PC or Mac to do work that will still not be possible on iPad.”
Adobe admitted to Bloomberg that “Photoshop [for iPad] will lack some familiar features” in its initial release and that it “will definitely expand the capabilities” over time.
The launch could come as soon as early November: That’s when Adobe will hold its annual press event, Adobe Max, in Los Angeles.