As was reported earlier today, Adobe Systems Inc. has officially launched Photoshop Touch for Android and iOS smartphones. And we got a sneak peek at it via a live Web event last week.
The new phone app joins the existing Photoshop Touch for tablets, which Adobe reports as having already logged an equivalent of 379 years of image-editing time since being introduced in 2012.
In the preview of the app, Stephen Nielson, Product Manager with Adobe, noted that the new smartphone app would have "almost identical features" to the tablet version, but a significantly re-worked user interface, optimized for the smaller screen.
Nielson pointed out that with over a billion smartphones in use, worldwide, users are asking more and more of their pocket-size devices. This includes impromptu photo retouching, of course. But it's also giving rise to a whole new artform, consisting of images created entirely by touch on a handheld device.
"With Photoshop Touch for phone, I can be creative any time," said Nielson.
Key features of both tablet and phone versions of Photoshop Touch include image layers, powerful filters and special effects, and the ability to sync projects automatically between all devices, via Adobe's free Creative Cloud service.
Nielson offered a fairly impressive walkthrough of the phone app's capabilities.
The opening screen offers thumbnail views of images on the device, and the ability to manage them: delete, duplicate, move or create a folder.
With an image open, an icon bar at the top of the screen provides access to four dropdown icon menus: one for basic drawing tools such as cut and paste, or area selection; one for adjustments such saturation, color balance, or contrast; one for ‘fx' (filters) to add blur, sharpening, drop shadows or a watercolor look; and an ‘&' menu for image tools such as cropping, rotation, fills and text.
Nielson demonstrated a photo contrast adjustment using the powerful Curves tool. Curves are the preferred weapon of desktop Photoshop wizards, and hence particularly nice to see in a tiny phone app.
Layers are another welcome ‘pro' feature. In Photoshop Touch for phone, they're accessed by tapping an icon at the lower-right of the display. Layers appear as thumbnails in a bar that pops out along the right edge of the screen. (There's also a 3D layer view, which certainly looks cool, though it's not obviously useful.)
Nielson showed how layers could be easily used to adjust a photo and add creative effects, while retaining the ability to backtrack and try various approaches without degrading the original image. Users can change transparency of individual layers, and set ‘Blend Modes' as in the full desktop version of Photoshop.
The Scribble Selection tool is uniquely adapted for touch users. It allows selection of complex image areas, a difficult task even when using a mouse. Using a fingertip, the user draws a green line within the area to be selected. The software then finds the actual edge. Results looked good, but of course will depend on the sharpness, contrast and complexity of the edge.
Camera Fill is a neat feature that uses a device's built-in camera in real-time, to add a new layer to an image. As an example, Nielson added a layer of texture from his carpet to a photo on his phone.
Overall, the user interface looks highly intuitive, and elegantly adapted for thick-fingered users. This app should please both amateurs looking to do a quick fix-up on their snapshots, and professionals aiming at a marketable result.
Input and Output
Adobe states that Photoshop Touch for phone will handle images up to 12 MPs in resolution, with layers. Projects can be saved in JPG, PNG or Photoshop PSD format. The native Photoshop Touch format is PSDX, which can be loaded into Photoshop on the desktop (CS5 or newer) using a free plug-in.
The cloud sync function looks well-implemented. Nielson showed how with sync enabled, a project in Photoshop Touch on his phone would appear almost immediately in the file manager of Photoshop Touch on his tablet.
Users can enable or disable sync, or specify that sync take place only via Wi-Fi, to save on cellular data charges. Photoshop Touch includes a free Creative Cloud account and 2GB of storage, which should be ample for the purpose.
All in all, Photoshop Touch for phone looks like a great extension to Adobe's graphic-arts toolset. It's cheap at the US$4.99 download price, and should be a hit with users at all levels of expertise. The one minor fly in the ointment is that the tablet and phone apps have to be purchased separately.
Photoshop Touch for phone is now available on both Apple's App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android. System requirements are iPhone 4S or later, iPod Touch 5th generation, or Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later. The app will be localized in English, French, German and Japanese.