Adobe Photoshop comes to iPad (Illustrator in 2020)

The list of things iPads can't do continues to shrink as two creative industry stalwarts go mobile.

Apple, Adobe, iOS, iPad OS, Photoshop, Illustrator, Adobe Max

The list of things iPads can’t do shrank dramatically at Adobe Max when Photoshop finally became available for iPad. Adobe also confirmed that another key creative industry tool, Adobe Illustrator, will ship for the Apple tablet in 2020.

The do-anything iPad

Introducing the apps, Simon Longbottom, Adobe vice president for Creative Cloud Services & Strategy, confirmed the company will continue to improve these products, aiming to deliver something like feature parity across all its supported platforms.

“We are launching the first version on the iPad, starting with Photoshop’s top workflows, compositing, masking and retouching, with more to come,” the company said.

It is perhaps worth noting that Photoshop on iPad is already a beast, capable of handling 500 layers in a single image, and capable of ingesting and working with 1GB image files. That’s significant, but it’s probably equally important to note that Photoshop for iPad is compatible with any iOS 13 iPad – which means you can use it on older iPad minis.

Of course, the industry continues to evolve, and it is arguable that Adobe no longer enjoys the same level of dominance it once had. Sure, Photoshop remains a key industry tool, but it now faces stiff competition from the likes of Affinity Photo and Pixelmator.

All the same, backwards compatibility and previous investments in building creative assets using the company's tools mean most of the world’s largest graphics-related companies still need Photoshop, if only to take a look at PSD files.

That they can now create new assets with these tools will help Adobe retain relevance in competitive age. Making or editing images is now as easy as pulling out your iPad.

Adobe Photoshop on iPad is available to all Creative Cloud customers subscribed to Photoshop, or as a fee-based app at the App Store.

Illustrator is coming in 2020

Adobe confirmed plans to introduce Illustrator for iPad in 2020. Compatible with Apple Pencil, the company says its “reimagined” app “brings the precision and versatility of the desktop experience to the tablet.”

You can watch a video of the new app in action here.

As you’ll see, it turns your iPad into a powerful tool for vector-based illustration and uses an ‘iPad-ified’ user interface. The iPad is a connected product, so it lets you work with the same documents across all your devices, and provides access to all Adobe’s cloud-based products including stock mages and fonts.

The implication is clear:

The raft of iPad enhancements Apple introduced in iPad OS had already moved the platform forward as a productivity device. Adobe’s decision to make two of the world’s most veteran creative apps available as apps for those systems serves to drive the point home: The iPad is a viable PC replacement.

You can sign up to a beta version of Illustrator on iPad here and evaluate for yourself whether this is the case.

Going with the flow: AR and AI

Adobe Aero is also interesting. The company is quite clearly climbing aboard the Augmented Reality (AR) wagon with the release that Longbottom promises will let you “build AR experiences with no coding skills."

The app essentially allows you to create layered PSD files, combining various imaging assets (and Adobe’s own libraries of creative assets) to build AR experiences using graphics tools rather than needing to code.

Adobe is also exploring the use of machine intelligence in its creative apps: The introduction of its all-new Photoshop Camera app combines some of the features of Photoshop within an app that allows users to apply industry-standard imaging effects when taking a photo.

The app includes a library of unique lenses and effects from leading artists, the company said. Adobe has also put more AI inside the desktop version of Photoshop in the form of Sensei AI.

What's up next

The direction of travel for Adobe is clear enough: The company has looked at the evolution of mobile devices and recognizes that its solutions must shift with that tide – particularly now that high-end mobile devices (well, Apple’s at any rate) are powerful enough to run complex applications.

For Apple, the fact that two of the world’s most important apps, (I can recall devoting entire magazines to these creative solutions back in the day), now run on an iPad is a testament to its multi-year effort to ensure its mobile devices carry the kind of punch such high-end solutions need.

There’s a way to go, of course, but the validation of the late CEO Steve Jobs’ claim that “PCs will become trucks” rings loud and clear. This is exactly what is happening.

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Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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