Adobe Photoshop Touch: $9.99
(Android 3.1 and up, requires 8.9-inch screen with 1280x800 min resolution)
Following Adobe’s capable but somewhat underpowered Photoshop Express app, Photoshop Touch provides some insights into Adobe's vision of the future of image manipulation on tablets. For the time being Photoshop Touch is available for Android only, and only powerful Honeycomb models at that, but there are plans afoot for an iOS version compatible with Apple's iPad. At $9.99, Photoshop Touch is one of the more expensive apps in the Market but for that price it offers some interesting and unique capabilities.
Unsurprisingly, Photoshop Touch doesn't offer the same level of flexibility as the full desktop version, but its feature set is impressively 'deep' nonetheless, and includes support for layers, a decent array of familiar Photoshop selection tools, effects and filters. Also available is a range of image acquisition options including synching to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, Facebook and Google Images.
When images are opened they are converted in the app to a psdx layer format. When exported to Facebook, saved to the tablet, or emailed they're converted to the JPEG file format, at a maximum output resolution of 1600 pixels (along the longest edge). When exported to Adobe's Creative Cloud, the file remains a psdx file and can be opened in Photoshop CS5 using a free plugin, and then saved in any format (although the 1600 pixel limit still applies).
The 1600 pixel limit is disappointing, but at least - unlike the earlier Photoshop Express app - zooming to 100% is possible, and very easy using the now-standard 'pinch apart' gesture. With a restricted workspace Adobe has done well to keep the UI as streamlined as possible - a familiar tool palette arranged vertically down the left-hand side can be minimized to make best use of the screen’s real estate while a menu bar along the top features more tools and drop-down windows for adjustments and effects.
Applying adjustments is easy - you simply select the effect from a series of thumbnails and then drag your finger horizontally on the slider to increase or decrease the strength. Painting or making selections is more tricky, however, if only because your fingertip obscures the view. The new Scribble Selection tool helps overcome this to a point, although complex backgrounds can be problematic.
We would still recommend a stylus (such as the Bamboo from Wacom) but there’s a handy offset pointer option that works well, but it’s odd that you must have a second finger touching the screen to activate it – lift either finger off for a second and the process is interrupted. At times though, some of the actions such as zooming, processing and others, can feel a bit laggy on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. In spite of its limitations, Photoshop Touch feels accomplished and its mix of power, flexibility and ease of use is impressive.
What we like: Easy selections using a fingertip, support for layers and many familiar Photoshop functions
What we don't like: Somewhat laggy operation (tested on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1), low resolution limit of 1600 x 1600 pixels