Just about a year ago at this time, Adobe released an iPad version of their flagship app, called Photoshop Touch. Now, a year later, they've announced a version of the app built specifically for the iPhone's smaller screen, that should be propagating out to the App Store very soon, listed at a price of US$4.99.
So what's different? Product Manager Stephen Nielson sat down with TUAW a little while ago to demo the new version of the app, and show off just what's been done differently with the smaller screen.
One thing is that despite the touchscreen interface, this is still Photoshop. You can open photos, edit them as you see fit, crop and retouch. It also allows you to edit layers with the standard cloning, brush and effects tools, and do nearly everything the desktop version of the app can do. There are even some things the desktop version app can't do -- Adobe built a "Scribble selection" feature for the touchscreen, where you can simply drag your finger around to select, and the app will intelligently nail your choice down. And there's also a "camera fill" feature, where you can choose a selection, and then use your iPhone or iPad's camera to shoot a picture right there and fill it in. And there's a 3D layer-viewing mode, where you can expand your image out into its various layers, and then drag around the touchscreen to view them in 3D.
All of this is powered by Adobe's Creative Cloud service, too, so you can seamlessly transfer to and open photos from your phone, work on them and then save and reopen them up on your desktop. It's all very smooth and simple, and for just $4.99, the app seems like a bargain for any Photoshop ninjas out there.
Of course, not everything is perfect. First up, as you might imagine, the iPhone and iPad have power limits that your desktop does not, so the biggest image you can open is a 12-megapixel image with three layers. If you open a smaller image, you can trade that off for more layers, so a 3-megapixel image can run up to 16 layers at a time on the iOS versions. The good news, though, is that if you open up an image with more layers than your iOS device can handle, it gets saved into a new format, so you'll never lose your work.
The other big missing piece on the iPhone itself is tutorials -- there are some text-based informational tutorials included with the iPhone app, but the iPad had much more involved tutorials and demos. That's not a big loss, however, and Nielson told us it was mostly just to save space in the iPhone's internal memory.
But "by and large," says Nielson, the iPhone version has "just about everything" else the iPad version has, despite it being half the price. As for what Adobe has planned next, Nielson said the company will "continue to explore new features for these apps, but also other apps and other services, especially services and workflows that can be enabled by Creative Cloud." Nielson didn't have any other announcements, but promised more is coming soon.
Photoshop Touch seems like an excellent (and much cheaper) version of the image-editing standard, and now it's been ported over successfully to the iPhone. It's too bad the company didn't go universal, but given all of the work that went into this new version, and the comparably much higher price of the desktop software, anyone who uses Photoshop regularly probably won't hesitate to grab it right away.