Will Photoshop Touch turn your iPad into a mobile graphic design center?

Is tablet technology equipped for photo editing software?
Is tablet technology equipped for photo editing software?
Yagi Studios/Photodisc/Getty Images

Some companies dominate an emerging market so quickly and completely that their trademarked name becomes synonymous with the general product. It's common to hear "Xerox" for photocopy, "Kleenex" for tissue, "Tylenol" for acetaminophen and "Band Aid" for adhesive bandage. Another trademark that has forged a place in common parlance is "Photoshopped."

Photoshop, offered by Adobe, has been the premier image editing software for professionals for more than two decades. That isn't a small feat in the competitive and fast-advancing computer age we live in. The software allows amateurs and professionals alike to create images and manipulate both scanned art and digital images. Among scores of other features, Photoshop allows users to add text, crop out sections, manipulate color and brightness, and extract the foreground from the background. With some practice, the average user can blur the background, clear up facial blemishes for a Facebook profile picture, brighten dark photos or even add a vintage tint. But serious photographers and graphic design professionals very adept at the software can do much more, such as changing color tones and saturations, blending multiple "layers" of an image and accomplishing detailed pixel-level editing.

Meanwhile, in the past few years, tablets have exploded in popularity as portable computers with touch-screens used mainly for news, video and social media. Software engineers are testing the limits of what applications and functionality these tablets can offer, including image editing.

Hence, Adobe came out with Photoshop Touch, a tablet version of their famous image editing software available for the iPad 2 and Android devices. (It isn't available for the original iPad.) Professionals won't exactly be throwing out their desktops quite yet, as this tablet version can't do as much as the full version. Nevertheless, it can do quite a lot.

On the next page, we'll discuss what the critics are saying about Photoshop Touch, and what the application can and can't do.

What Critics Say About Photoshop Touch

How useful Photoshop Touch is to you depends on your expectations.
How useful Photoshop Touch is to you depends on your expectations.
Alistair Berg/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Critics agree that, for what it is, Photoshop Touch is impressive. It features a wide array of the basic tools that make Photoshop so popular -- including tutorials for getting you started. Among these basic tools are brush, eraser, warps, fills, Magic Wand, layering, drop shadows, blend modes and color levels. You can adjust your image with Brightness/Contrast, Curves and Reduce Noise. But the Touch version also introduces the Scribble Selection tool, which easily separates foreground from background. Another new function is the Camera Fill, which allows you to use the tablet's camera to take a live picture as a layer within the image (as you take the photo, the display will show your camera's image as a layer within the Photoshop image).

Critics have praised the intuitive interface -- Photoshop users will be able to figure out the application quickly. You can easily pull photos from the camera, Adobe's Creative Cloud, or even Google and Facebook. When you'are done with your image, you can share it on Facebook as well.

Some of the drawbacks of Photoshop Touch come down to the limitations of the tablet technology. For instance, although you can zoom in on the image for more detailed work, tablets aren't (yet) equipped for pixel-level editing. It partly depends on your expectations: While some critics are impressed with the Photoshop Touch version of layers, others lament the absence of advanced layering functions like layer masks and adjustment layers. Likewise, some critics complain that the application offers a painfully limited selection of only 29 text fonts, while others are impressed it has that many.

So, for the serious hobbyist or professional graphic designer, the tablet application just doesn't cut it. In addition, Photoshop Touch has some decent competition in Snapseed, another image editing application for tablets that also costs less [source: Alba].

Adobe, of course, is well aware of these limitations. They don't advertise that it will replace a professional's desktop version (nor would they want to, as it might cannibalize their business). Instead, they suggest it as an extra tool for graphic designers to bring into meetings or out of the office to use for spontaneous ideas, or to quickly give a client a rough idea of what they can do.

So, although Photoshop Touch will turn your tablet into a mobile graphic design center, don't expect it to be as fully functional as the one your traditional computer.

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Sources

  • Alba, Davey. "Adobe Photoshop Touch Review." LaptopMag.com. April 2, 2012. (July 18, 2012) http://www.laptopmag.com/review/software/adobe_photoshop_touch.aspx
  • Bradley, Helen. "Hands-On: Adobe Photoshop Touch for the iPad 2." PCWorld. Feb. 28, 2012. (July 18, 2012). http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/250930/handson_adobe_photoshop_touch_for_the_ipad_2.html
  • Brown, Russell. "Create a Live Camera Fill Layer in Photoshop Touch." Adobe. Sept. 30, 2011. (July 18, 2012) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heOVrFWn4XE
  • Brown, Russell. "First Look at Adobe Photoshop Touch with Russell Brown." Adobe. Sept. 30, 2011. (July 18, 2012) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89hej8N1Me0&list=PLC26A593C30C41ACB
  • Fuller, Laurie Ulrich, Robert C. Fuller. "Photoshop CS3 Bible." John Wiley & Sons, 2011. (July 18, 2012) http://books.google.com/books?id=y8pSNLUtn94C
  • Muchmore, Michael. "Adobe Photoshop Touch (for iPad)." PCMag.com. April 26, 2012. (July 18, 2012) http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2403612,00.asp
  • Sjöberg, Lore. "A Dime Bag of Photoshop." Wired. March 6, 2012. (July 18, 2012) http://www.wired.com/reviews/2012/03/photoshop-touch-app/