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Adobe explains how it plans to improve Photoshop on iPad

Marc DeAngelis
Contributor
Adobe

Earlier this month, Adobe finally released its iPad version of Photoshop. Users were excited to be able to create illustrations and designs on the go, but many were left underwhelmed by the stark difference between the standard and mobile versions of the app. Adobe is trying to reassure digital artists that the app will receive important updates over the course of the next year, helping to bring it up to speed with the desktop version of the image editing software.

By the end of 2019, iPad users will be able to take advantage of Select Subject, which uses AI to quickly isolate an object. "There is no other iPad app on the market with this type of powerful yet easy to use selection capability," says Adobe. The Refine Edge brush -- which is crucial for selecting subjects with hair, fur or soft edges -- will be available in 2020.

Some of the most apparent features left out of Photoshop for iPad are adjustment layers. These allow the user to make non-destructive changes to lower layers. Curves is a useful adjustment layer that quickly changes the tone and contrast of an image. The feature will be released sometime in 2020, though Adobe didn't mention other important adjustment layers like hue and saturation or color balance.

Adobe is also planning to add the ability to rotate the canvas in 2020, along with the brush sensitivity features already found in Adobe Fresco.

Lightroom integration with Photoshop for iPad is also coming next year. Users can make adjustments to photos in the mobile version of Lightroom and then proceed to edit the images in Photoshop.

Even with these additions, the iPad version of Photoshop will likely feel sparse and limiting. The lack of so many features makes it difficult for artists to use the same workflow on the iPad as they do on a desktop. Users were expecting a "full" Photoshop experience, but got something roughly equivalent to other available apps like Procreate and Clip Studio. "If you try to make everybody happy with a [version 1 release], you'll either never ship or make nobody happy," said Scott Belsky, Chief Product Officer and Executive Vice President of Creative Cloud in a tweet. "In the case of Photoshop on iPad v1, it was the team's judgment to nail perfect PSD support, a few workflows and rethink features [and the] UI, and not just port 30 [years] of stuff (and baggage) on day one. And it's our burden to prove the value and exceed expectations." It sounds like Belsky's vision and users' expectations are misaligned. Many users specifically want that port of "30 years of stuff" -- which is what they use on a daily basis to get their work done on a desktop of laptop -- but on an iPad.

Time will tell if Photoshop for iPad will become a go-to tool for digital artists, but at such a slow pace, it could take years before it becomes remotely comparable to the desktop version of the software.