Adobe Photoshop for iPad is Almost Ready

Posted on October 18, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Mobile, iOS, iPadOS with 23 Comments

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.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Adobe Photoshop for iPad is Almost Ready”

  1. Rcandelori

    One side effect of an iPad photoshop port is that it works on ARM processors. This could mean ARM64 versions of Photoshop for Windows may not be far off.

    • mattbg

      In reply to Rcandelori:

      You'd have to wonder how integrated this effort is with iOS. Some articles have cited Adobe's need to develop this in partnership with Apple all along, which suggests it may be quite iOS-specific.

      Assuming there's some deep integration, I wonder what the justification would be to extend it beyond iOS when the other tablet platforms are so relatively small, varying in power and capability, and have users that don't want to pay for things, anyway. I'm sure Adobe knows how many Creative Cloud users are actively using Photoshop on a Surface.

      I'm a Windows user and wouldn't use a Surface if I wanted to do something semi-serious where a tablet was best - I'd use an iPad Pro, and if it integrates with the work I've done in Photoshop on the desktop then I wouldn't care whether or not it ran on other ARM platforms.

      • lvthunder

        In reply to mattbg:

        Remember though they are bringing their brand new drawing app Fresco to Windows on Arm so it wouldn't surprise me if they do it with Premiere Rush and this version of Photoshop.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to Rcandelori:

      Same processor arch, completely different API and UX.

      Photoshop for Windows would need at the least a simple recompile, but it wouldn’t be any faster than the emulated edition since there’s doubtless a non-trivial amount of assembly-level work to squeeze every ounce of performance they can out of it. All of that would need to be redone and tuned for AArch64.

  2. nbplopes

    I don't think is lack of capabilities of the device to deal with full blown Photoshop capabilities. But reimplementing an app like Photoshop in a different platform is not technically easy at all. So to keep with the initial schedule is natural that some features may be dropped. The vision is still full blown Photoshop in the iPad ... meaning the desktop may be unnecessary from start to end.

    This is a big deal as for the first time in decades an app of this size and complexity goes beyond both macOS and Windows. A testament of the technical maturity for highly demandingly professional work with the speed and smoothness users are accustomed to with iPad Pro's. Will see if that is the case.

  3. nbplopes

    In reply to dontbeevil:

    Do not recall Fresco on the iPad being mentioned on this site either.

    A total fail :)

    • dontbeevil

      In reply to nbplopes:

      but when it comes to windows things automagically changes

      • nbplopes

        In reply to dontbeevil:

        How come? I just told you that not even form iPad Fresco was mentioned on this site.

        You are theorizing a preference for iOS or Android but that the facts in context don’t follow.

        Honestly, never crossed my mind one day I would find someone arguing such a point. Thiurrot has always preferred and defended MS vision, especially against the likes of Apple. But there is so much one can do if the company kept shooting their toes.

        Listen, can you find something dumpiest smartphone design than the Duo just presented? Imagine, your phone rings, to find out who is calling you need to open it like a Book? What about handling notifications need to open it too?? Wait, fold it 360? Yes good thing if it falls and one display breaks, gladly you have one for backup. Enterprise failover strategies. Nice. Oh, covers for protection, well one can always use a sock or something. Pro much? All style and little substance as usual.

        • dontbeevil

          In reply to nbplopes:

          Compare apple articles to ms articles and you'll understand what you said is totally wrong.

          I don't care about duo, but has the same design of the huawei x... Also I'm quite sure that if a duo and an iphone fall down, there are many more changes the iphone smashes much harder than the duo

          • nbplopes

            In reply to dontbeevil:

            So because it has the “same” design as some Huawei phone is now a guarantee of quality? interesting.

            You see, you seam overlook details that make something stand out. The interesting bit in the Huawei phone Is that it’s not a dual screen but a single panel that when open makes a tablet. That is all that interesting. Still it shares the same design inefficiencies if not a couple more.

            You overlook details also in this article. What it’s interesting is that a category defining professional desktop application, Photoshop, is being implemented in what its has been seen inadequate for professional duties if not just a bigger phone. That it’s what makes it interesting.

            This is in contrast to the launch of Fresco in either Windows or iPad. This I see has Adobe attempt to provide something more efficient than Adobe Illustrator without going to route of reimplementing it..

  4. codymesh

    I don't get it, if you want to use "Full Photoshop" on a tablet-device, why wouldn't you go for something like a Surface?

  5. drawnbydonn

    I’ve been using Affinity Photo on iPad Pro on and off since launch. It’s full-featured, but the UI is not intuitive. I have to look for a tutorial every time I want to do anything remotely complicated.

    Therefore I will welcome PS if it is more intuitive but lacks some features. That’s speaking as someone who has a CC subscription via an employer.

    As for Fresco, the watercolour brushes are most impressive. Apart from that I see no compelling reason to switch from Procreate, a mature app made by a small team which just keeps getting better.

  6. lezmaka

    Basically I think it's going to end up like Lightroom. When it came out, it was pretty limited, but over the last couple of years, they've added features that got it to the point where the benefits outweighed the missing features (I'm not a professional photographer). I think (and have said since it was announced) Photoshop will evolve the same way. At first it'll be missing a lot of features, even basic things that you would think should be included. Then over the next year, they'll add more features, and eventually it'll get to be usable for normal people but probably not pros.

  7. F4IL

    It will be a lackluster release at first but this is a big deal for iPad users.

  8. mattbg

    Fully agree about the important part being seamless integration with a PSD workflow. No serious person is going to use Photoshop on a tablet the same way that they use it on a desktop but an established Photoshop user will find ways to make it fit into a workflow that starts, ends, or involves the desktop and has familiar terminology and tools presented in a way that makes sense on a tablet.

  9. dallasnorth40

    Any chance at all the will bring this to Android tablets?

    • IanYates82

      In reply to dallasnorth40:

      I suspect not, despite it maybe being a bit easier from a comp science problem due to less platform lockdown.

      No standard pen. No champion of the tablet ecosystem.

      Maybe Samsung could convince them to make a galaxy tab optimised version, but do the galaxy tabs even support the s pen these days?

      I've got a tab 2 which didn't but it's now 4 generations old (still working just fine though)

      Market is quite small unfortunately

      How does photoshop run on a surface these days?

  10. Chris_Kez

    Adobe and Apple could have avoided some skins and arrows by not promoting this as “real Photoshop” but focusing on PSD compatibility and being able to use iPad in your workflow to do more than the phone. Maybe calling it Photoshop for iPad or something. Any time you promise to bring “real” anything you better bring the whole thing or be ready to get ripped, fairly or not.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      There is a difference between real Photoshop and complete Photoshop. Anyone who thinks a rewrite is going to bring every single feature over at the start isn't thinking clearly.

  11. dontbeevil

    so in this case you get the noise for "yet another app" ... not like Fresco for Windows?