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Adobe Photoshop Touch review

Ben Pitt
21 Mar 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
6.99
inc VAT

Impressive editing power, but the resolution limit and awkward handling of native project files make it more of a plaything than a serious tool

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Tablet computers' expansion from media consumption to creation shows no sign of slowing, and Photoshop Touch is one of the most sophisticated creative apps to date. It was launched for Android back in October, and arrives for iPad just in time for the launch of the third-generation model. Disappointingly, it doesn't support the first-generation iPad, even though other image-editing apps such as Snapseed and Photogene run fine on it. Even more disappointingly, the interface hasn’t been optimised for the third-generation iPad’s high-resolution screen, with text, graphics and even the image being edited appearing a little blocky. Hopefully this will be resolved soon.

Photoshop Touch

Selectively applying colour correction in brush strokes is one of the highlights of this app

The editing environment strikes a sublime balance of Photoshop-like sophistication and iPad-inspired touchy feely operation. The layout of toolbox, menu and layers palette feels immediately familiar, and operational differences to full-fat Photoshop are quick to get used to.

Inevitably, a £7 app doesn’t offer the same features as a £600 application, but there’s much more editing power here than the price suggests. There’s support for up to 16 layers, with a choice of nine blend modes. Layer masks aren’t available but it is possible to apply a gradual linear or radial fade. There’s a strong set of tools for selecting part of an image, including Magic Wand and a Feather control to soften edges. Colour correction is comprehensive, and there’s a decent selection of creative effects. Distortion effects are thin on the ground, with no Liquify or even a basic Pinch/Punch, but the Warp tool goes some way to compensating.

Photoshop Touch

Avian fun with the Warp tool

There are some unique strengths, too, such as the ability to preview a live feed from the iPad's camera inside a selected area of the project – perfect for rough-and-ready Photoshop montages. It’s also possible to apply various effects as brush strokes – not just Dodge and Burn but also Curves, Color Balance, Temperature and creative effects such as Pencil.

The touchscreen interface lends itself well to brush strokes but it's not so practical for making careful edits with the Eraser or Lasso tool, as your finger obscures the screen. We also found that adjusting the brush size was a little confusing, as the size that's shown doesn’t reflect how zoomed in the image is. That’s not an issue in desktop software controlled with a mouse, as the brush size is shown when the cursor hovers over the image and changes as you zoom in and out, but this isn't possible with a touchscreen.

Other limitations are more significant. The maximum dimensions for a project are 1,600x1,600 pixels, and anything larger is resized on import. That equates to about 2 megapixels for 4:3-ratio photos. This is presumably to optimise performance, but we prefer software that lets us do what we want and suffer the consequences. Perhaps this isn’t the iPad way.

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