Adobe has killed the ‘iPad is not productive’ story

Adobe’s decision to put its creative apps on iPads means there is now no justification whatsoever to argue that iPads are not productive devices.

Apple, Adobe, iOS, Mac, iPad, iPad Pro, Photoshop, Post PC
Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say “iPads are not productive” I’d have a lot more dollars. And they’d still be wrong. Adobe next year will kill that myth completely, as it brings Photoshop and then its other creative apps across to Apple’s pro tablet, a report claims.

Get things done with an iPad

Adobe apparently plans to introduce Photoshop for iPads in 2019, the story claims.

The company also intends bringing its other creative apps over to Apple’s tablets.

Adobe needs to do this, of course – iPad users have plenty of Photoshop alternatives, such as Pixelmator and Affinity – but the move also shows how rapidly Apple has evolved its tablets since they were first introduced.

What’s most interesting is that Adobe’s chief product officer of Creative Cloud Scott Belsky makes the point that: “Newer versions of the iPad Pro are now powerful enough to support Adobe’s apps...”

[Also read: Apple plans a little Mac and iPad summer lovin’]

Think about that in context and it should become ever clearer that this statement validates Apple’s overall iPad strategy.

The company has been working toward making its tablets a viable Mac replacement since the start. The fact that iPads can now run a version of the complex piece of industry standard software that is Photoshop shows it has achieved this end.

For most people, an iPad is becoming all the computer they need.

Macs still matter

Macs still matter, of course: Not only are they a familiar system, but they are in some ways more flexible than iOS devices. They are also capable of running the most complex software for the toughest tasks – video rendering, AR creation, data analytics and the like.

Apple’s focus is very much on the high-end when it comes to its Mac range – the most recently introduced MacBook Pro with Touch Bar upgrades offer up to twice the performance of previous models in that range. The iMac Pro is another system that delivers power in quantity (and the iMac’s no slouch). The Mac Pro (expected next year) will likely be one of the most powerful computers money can buy. Mac mini and MacBook devices are very much Macs for the rest of us.

To me it seems clear Apple’s vision is that you’ll use powerful Macs for the toughest tasks, while tablets and other as yet unrevealed systems will become capable of handling everything else.

Adobe’s decision to introduce Photoshop for iPad reflects and legitimizes Apple’s approach. It tells us that eventually most every computing task we use a Mac for today will be achievable on an Apple tablet.

Adobe’s task

The creative graphics company has a few challenges that I can see.

You’ll notice that people working with Photoshop on other platforms sometimes complain that the user interface has not been refined for use on them. In order to make Photoshop an effective iPad tool, Adobe will need to ensure it creates a user interface that works.

Another challenge will be performance. I think it likely the 64-bit iPad Pro will be equal to the task of running the application, but I am concerned that limited RAM may serve to limit the capabilities of the app. The days when it was acceptable to leave your computer running for three hours in order to make a simple image transition are long gone.

What happens next?

Adobe’s decision to put its creative apps on iPads means there is now no justification whatsoever to argue that iPads are not productive devices.

I believe it to be significant enough that analyst firms such as IDC and Gartner should be called upon to justify why they fail to include iPads in PC market data. Even without Photoshop, iPads are now more capable computers than some PCs, and should be accounted as such.

It is also very interesting that number of things you can’t do on iPad running an Apple A-series chip continues to shrink, which bodes well for future product evolutions.

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