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Adobe’s Photoshop for the iPad is finally here, with more features to come

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‘This is the beginning’

Nearly a year after it was first announced, Photoshop for the iPad is finally here. Adobe is unveiling the app at its annual Max design conference today, and it has published a blog post celebrating the launch of version 1.0. The app has been redesigned for the context of a mobile device and includes many of desktop Photoshop’s core tools, particularly around compositing, retouching, and masking. Not everything is here, but Adobe says this first version is just the starting line.

“This is the beginning,” writes Photoshop product manager Pam Clark. “The first version of Photoshop on iPad is focused on ... common tasks and workflows that we know will be useful for most Photoshop users.” Adobe is careful to note that more features will be added over time, as the company’s labeling of the app as “real Photoshop” led to some early reports of beta testers ending up disappointed that the software wasn’t what they had hoped for.

It’s true that Photoshop for the iPad doesn’t have all of the features of the desktop version, like the pen tool or an animation timeline. But the term “real Photoshop” comes from the fact that the iPad app is built from the same code base as Photoshop on the desktop. Adobe is also all-in on its new Cloud PSD file format, which allows users to sync edits across the tablet and desktop, and it hopes to encourage users to house their Photoshop creations in the cloud going forward.

“[We’re] never compromising on this notion of the actual, real Photoshop code on iPad, so that you have an absolute extended workflow from the desktop,” Scott Belsky, Adobe’s chief product officer, said at a pre-briefing event.

Cloud PSDs signify Adobe’s commitment to its new generation of tablet apps, including Fresco and Aero, which both support the new file format. When a PSD is in the cloud, its extension will be changed to PSDC, “C” for cloud. PSDCs will auto-save as users work and can be saved in other cloud storage locations other than the Creative Cloud. Users can use Photoshop on their iPads or desktops offline, with edits being cached on the device until they connect back to the internet.

The app features a toolbar on the left, which houses tools like the brush, type, clone stamp, healing brush, and lasso. Layer panels are on the right, along with tools for photo editing like brightness, contrast, hue, and saturation, and levels. There are also panels to make image adjustments with layer masks, gradients, and blend modes.

Photoshop on the iPad is only available for Creative Cloud customers, meaning it’s included if they’re already paying for a plan with Photoshop. If not, users will have to sign up for a subscription, the cheapest of which is the $9.99 Photography plan that includes Lightroom and Photoshop.

Because it’s a mobile app, Photoshop product manager Jenny Lyell says Adobe plans to update Photoshop for the iPad at a much more aggressive pace than it has with its current Creative Cloud apps for the desktop. That gives the team more time to get feedback from users and add new features gradually.

“We’re not going to try to get 30 years of features and unload them on a brand new customer, on a brand new platform, from day one,” Belsky says. “Instead, we’re going to rethink the evolution of some of these features.” Photoshop on the iPad may not be “full” Photoshop yet, but it is real.