Adobe Photoshop Touch for iPad

Adobe Photoshop Touch for Apple iPad 2 $9.99 / £6.99
Compatible with iPad 2 or later, requires iOS5 or later

Adobe Photoshop Touch for the iPad2 is essentially unchanged from the Android version, but the more responsive operation of the iPad2 compared to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 makes for a slightly better user experience (albeit on a smaller screen). 

When we originally looked at Adobe’s Photoshop Touch editing app it was only compatibile with powerful Honeycomb Android tablets (you can read our review of the Android version here). At the time, Adobe stated that they were working on a version for the iPad, and now, after a gestation of a couple of months, Photoshop Touch is finally available for Apple’s iPad 2 (and the forthcoming new-generation iPad), though the original model is not officially supported.  

We tried the same tutorials on the iPad 2 as we had with the Android version of Photoshop Touch on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, with a view to seeing if the more sprightly performance of the iPad made any difference to the quality of selections. We found it easier to make selections on the iPad, but the accuracy of selections is unchanged and tidying images up is still best left to the full version of Photoshop.

Anyone expecting any new features over the Android version will be disappointed. Photoshop Touch for iPad has the same functionality, and the same restrictions as the original (including the 1600x1600 pixel resolution limit for images). The app is even loaded with the same tutorials and sample images. There are a couple of major differences though between the two apps in terms of user experience.

The first difference is simply the larger screen real estate of the Galaxy compared to the iPad. When we reviewed the Android version of the app, we were lucky enough to have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 at our disposal. On that particular tablet, which has a 10.1-inch screen, Photoshop Touch felt a lot less cramped than it does on the squarer 4:3 aspect ratio 9.7-inch panel of the iPad 2. 

Also, whereas we noticed the Android setup was quite slow to respond to some actions, on the iPad 2, Photoshop Touch responds much more quickly and smoothly to simple finger gestures. This greatly speeds up certain operations, especially when painting and making selections. Both the powerful Scribble Selection Tool and Refine Edge brush, for instance, worked with very little delay on the iPad, whereas on the Galaxy Tab 10.1, they could be rather 'laggy'. 

The iPad 2’s responsiveness helps offset the slightly cramped workspace, which is a result of the screen’s squarer aspect ratio. The familiar UI is well-designed and uncluttered; the menu bar, toolbar and layer pallet minimize when adjustments are being made.

The near-instantaneous response made repetitive painting strokes using the Refine Edge tool easier when using a fingertip to paint difficult to select areas, such as hair or even skin with similar tones to adjacent areas. Whether the improved responsiveness was responsible for this is hard to say though - over time, working with both versions of the app we've become more proficient at using the tools, but the end result is much the same. It's very hard to say whether or not the iOS version of Photoshop Touch is 'better' than the Android version, since there is so much variation in the hardware, but on the devices that we've used, it certainly seems a little smoother. 

The Refine Edge technology is a little 'hit or miss' on both Android and iOS platforms to be honest - even after repeated use of the 'refine edge' tool we struggled to make clean selections (notice the bobble on the hat of the girl in the image further up this page, and the 'cloud' of miscellaneous background tones on her shoulder). The more responsive iPad allowed us to work with these tools more fluidly, but, ultimately, did nothing to enhance the accuracy of the selection compared to same tools in PS Touch for Android. Files edited in Photoshop Touch are saved in the .psdx format when uploaded to Adobe's Creative Cloud, and the layers are kept intact, so if you want to you can continue to edit them, or 'tidy up' from where you left off using the more capable desktop version of Photoshop. 

Overall, our opinion of Photoshop Touch has not changed much since we originally reviewed it for the Android platform. It is nice to look at, fairly well-featured, very easy to use, and it's good value at $9.99. That said, it faces stiff competition from Apple's own iPhoto for iOS, which was announced recently alongside the new-generation iPad. We haven't had a chance to take a detailed look at iPhoto for iOS yet, but first impressions are promising, and at $4.99 it's half the price of Photoshop Touch. 

What we like: Responsive operation, selections made easy (especially with Refine Edge technology), support for layers good, wide range of familiar tools,

What we don't like: 1600 x 1600 pixel limit, hard to make accurate selections, no support for original iPad

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by or any affiliated companies.


Total comments: 43
By Toh (Mar 15, 2012)

Is this the beginning of the end of Wacom?

By Biowizard (Mar 22, 2012)

Ever since iPad (the first one) came out, I've been waiting for someone to produce a "Cintiq" app ...


By michi098 (Mar 14, 2012)

Sorry if this was mentioned somewhere and I didn't see it. I am fine with the 1600x1600 resolution output, but can I import pictures which are larger? I.e., if I am on the road and take a picture with my point and shoot, can I work on those pictures with Photoshop Touch or will it not even import them since they are bigger than 1600x1600? Thanks.

By Pashminu (Mar 14, 2012)

It is indeed mean of Adobe to not support the original iPad, what about the new iPad 3? Will it work on it or users will have buy an upgrade version?

By dmaclau (Mar 14, 2012)

1600 x 1600? C'mon. Does Adobe really think they can play in this market with that resolution? 4 stars? 1600 x 1600 invalidates the App.

By Kametori (Mar 13, 2012)

I see this abigger trend that one photoediting too for tablet.
Apple has no bring almost all applications that consumer user use in ios devices. Meaning mails, notes, itunes, photoshop, videocalls etc. I believe that Apple's long/middle term strategy is make ios devices main devices that normal people will use everything that they need, This ios-ecosystem is more profitable than traditional desktop OSX<. full control not onlu divices and operating system BUT also 3rd party apps through they own app store. Mac OS has got already several copied features from ios, Some arre good but OSX App Store and coming limitation of programs from other sources wil be soon not allowed. Then able has all busuness elements directly in their hands, And this means not only content sensoring but also monopol state for prising,
I'm a frame that this is not good for anybody.... maiby only for apple

1 upvote
jason foley
By jason foley (Mar 13, 2012)

Ha,Awesome I think it's great

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 26 seconds after posting
inevitable crafts studio
By inevitable crafts studio (Mar 12, 2012)

for all of yout that think this photoshop is a ripoff try filterstorm, iam using it since i bought my ipad last fall and it works PERFECTLY

ps touch just takes advantage of adobes name

The Squire
By The Squire (Mar 12, 2012)

Ok this is what it needs to do; can anyone confirm?

1. Import photos via the iPad camera connectivity kit. JPG and RAW?
2. Allow me to make edits on the iPad.
3. Export files to some web service (Facebook, Flickr, whatever), which I can accept a 'low' resolution of 1600x1600 for.
4. Sync (USB? Cloud?) the original photo and edits with my desktop so I can carry on editing in Lightroom.

Any current users doing it this way?

inevitable crafts studio
By inevitable crafts studio (Mar 12, 2012)

yes it works exactly like that

By Rambler358 (Mar 12, 2012)

I'm not positive, but I don't think RAW image formats are supported.

By bentheoandrews (Mar 12, 2012)

Whoaaaa, everyone calm down. Just to clarify, I've got this app on my iPad 2. I can load and work with jpegs from my Sony NEX 5N with no trouble (larger than 1600x1600) - layered up and edited 4 images in a project of a snowboarder jumping and worked fine with no lag. I think the pixel limit is output size.

Michael Kaufman
By Michael Kaufman (Mar 12, 2012)

Good to know. That's better then what the review at (I think) Gizmodo said. They thoght that it will not load or save larger files.

That changes this from a completely useless App to one that I have no interest in. I can't imagine why I would want to spend a lot of time editing a picture, just to have to start over again when I got back to my computer.

I can see how people who only upload to the web might find this useful.

By elpardo (Mar 13, 2012)

Yes there is a limit on output size I believe, it is the same as the one on snapseed, which is what I use on my iPad1

By Shirrif (Mar 12, 2012)

4 stars for what?

"The Refine Edge technology is a little 'hit or miss'"
"What we like: selections made easy (especially with Refine Edge technology)"

Apple fever is definitely on...

Michael Kaufman
By Michael Kaufman (Mar 12, 2012)

While I don't want to get in the way of your Apple bashing, this is actually a review of an Adobe software product that is directly competing with an Apple software product (iPhoto for iOS).

I am not sure how even the most virulent Apple hater could view a positive review of a competitor's product to be "Apple Fever".

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 44 seconds after posting
By Shirrif (Mar 12, 2012)

Oh Dear,
First; I hate very few things and consumer electronics is not one of them.
Apple Fever means that one is not allowed to be negative on any iProducts or related SW (or to be immediately blamed for hate behavior...)
What was actually incorrect in my quotes of actual review?
Poor Me
Peace! :)

1 upvote
By snowboarder (Mar 12, 2012)

1600x1600 limit is a joke.
You can't even take a picture with your iPad/iPhone
and start working on it. You have to go through a Mac,
real PS to resize, iTunes to send it back to iPad to...
yeah, to do what?
Why does Apple think it's so convenient to use iTunes
to simply copy files? Why does Adobe think it's useful
to limit the file size to 1600x1600px? Why?

Gavril Margittai
By Gavril Margittai (Mar 14, 2012)

Because supporting a larger file will slow down the wimpy machine.

By zodiacfml (Mar 12, 2012)

Hmmm....I think it's time for a large touch interface for replacing the mouse on a PC especially on photo editing tasks.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
By Sordid (Mar 12, 2012)

How about a Wacom?

1 upvote
By gadgetdan (Mar 12, 2012)

Back to the Android version again - saw this demoed last week on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 using the S-pen. That looked pretty neat and in my opinion looks easier to work with a pen than your finger (not tried either though but used a regular tablet with a pen and feels natural)

By kdaphoto (Mar 12, 2012)

Wacom has the Bamboo pen for iPad and it works great. Tho I haven't tried it with this app, would be curious to see how it works. But I thin this is for those who need quick edits for the web. Beyond that not so much.

By Minnesota_Steve (Mar 12, 2012)

I was excited about it until Apple launched iPhoto for the new iPad and the retina display. Now a blow out app would be for Wacom to issue an app for the iPad that allows these to control Photoshop. It just doesn't make sense to buy their lower quality tablet and have to carry two tablets while traveling.

1 upvote
By ExNewt (Mar 11, 2012)

I suggest PhotoForge 2 - a lot of very good features.

By /steve (Mar 11, 2012)

The "less screen real estate" review comment puzzles me, because the 16:9, 10.1" Galaxy screen is 43.6 square inches, which is a smaller area than the 4:3, 9.7" iPad's 45.2 square inches.

Comment edited 49 seconds after posting
By MIKE GG (Mar 12, 2012)

also, is the android function bar factored in the screen space?

1 upvote
By WT21 (Mar 11, 2012)

I like where this is headed, but it doesn't sound like prime-time yet, so I'll pass and keep waiting. Thanks for the review, and keep at it Adobe!

Michael Kaufman
By Michael Kaufman (Mar 11, 2012)

I'm not sure how you can give a 4-star review to a program that is so limited that it will not even load a screenshot from the new iPad. Remember, it doesn't downscale large images, it just refuses to load them.

Isn't that like saying that a race-car is really great even though it only goes at 20 MPH?

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
Ken Milburn
By Ken Milburn (Mar 11, 2012)

Given the limitations of memory and speed for a pad, it's never going to be the best place for processing images. But it's a great mechanism for communicating with your images on-line or via social media...especially when you're "on-the-run" and have no time or space for a computer. Use a camera connection kit and a portable 500GB hard-drive.

By RichardBalonglong (Mar 11, 2012)

Still... Filterstorm Pro is the best app for photography, next is Snapseed...

inevitable crafts studio
By inevitable crafts studio (Mar 12, 2012)


Robert van Kralingen
By Robert van Kralingen (Mar 11, 2012)

IPhoto for iPad has a 19 megapixel limit, so you do not have to redo everything at a higher resolution when you get home.

Regards, Robert

By Ithackermike (Mar 11, 2012)

2 Thoughts:
1 )It's a high powered app just like this that may best expose the differences between the 2 platforms. What good is a .4 inch larger screen if the app is too laggy.

2) is the 1600x1600 restriction in place to keep from overrunning the processor power? I wonder if iPhoto for iOS has a similar restriction. I don't think iPhoto and PS are competitors on the desktop but if iPhoto iOS handles larger images then Adobe may have a problem here.

Ashley Pomeroy
By Ashley Pomeroy (Mar 11, 2012)

"is the 1600x1600 restriction in place to keep from overrunning the processor power?"

I surmise it's in place to keep people buying Photoshop Elements for their desktop! If this could do full-sized image editing (and raw conversion) it'd be a steal at $9.99.

By Ithackermike (Mar 11, 2012)

@Ashley, you're probably correct. Protecting the revenue stream is more important to Adobe than any processor issues.

1 upvote
By john (Mar 11, 2012)

what will you going to do with just 1600X1600?

By klopus (Mar 11, 2012)

More than enough for web display and social sites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

It's very hard to consider iOS or Android consumer slate as something where you can do critical edits for images to be printed big. Screens aren't color corrected, precise mask selection with finger is all but impossible, there's not enough processing power, functionality is limited, etc.

Slates, like cheap entry-level laptops or desktops, aren't just designed for this

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
By CBuff (Mar 11, 2012)

Klopus, you are right that 1600x1600 is enough for web and social sites. But how do you get a picture to be below 1600x1600 ? Even a pocket camera these days has more resolution, and this app refuses to open then (you would wish it would automatically downsize to 1600x1600, so that you can work on it.. it doesn't).

Adobe, blinded by their quest to protect their revenues, missed entirely the mark.

Hell is populated by tons of companies who went bankrupt, trying to protect their business models. Do you know of "cannibalize yourself before someone else does"? Might be too late for Adobe to change gears...

By mbaginy (Mar 11, 2012)

An interesting app, with some potential, for iPad 2 users. A shame, it doesn't run on the original iPad.

Brian Short
By Brian Short (Mar 11, 2012)

The 1600x1600 limit is especially disappointing considering the resolution of the new iPad is greater than that.

By cesaregal (Mar 11, 2012)

What about Aperture for iOS?

1 upvote
Zvonimir Tosic
By Zvonimir Tosic (Mar 12, 2012)

There's a new iPhoto for iPad. Apple announced it a few days ago.

Total comments: 43