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