App Review: Adobe Photoshop Touch

January 24, 2012

By Dan Havlik

Did you hear that Adobe finally released a version of Photoshop for the iPad? Well, that’s not exactly true. Adobe’s new touch-based image-editing app is not compatible with the iPad yet—but that’s coming, Adobe says—and it’s not exactly “Photoshop on a tablet.”

So while it’s called Adobe Photoshop Touch, don’t expect to be doing major photo edits with this clever but somewhat limited app. And if, like most tablet users, you own an iPad, you’re going to have to wait a while for a compatible version.

According to an Adobe representative I spoke with, the main reason Photoshop Touch is so far only compatible with Android-powered tablets (those running Android 3.1 or higher) is because it’s optimized for use with a stylus. (Yeah, fat chance you’ll ever see Apple adopt a stylus for the iPad.)

That doesn’t mean you can’t use Photoshop Touch with your finger. That’s how I tested it while running the app on a Samsung Galaxy Tab. Mostly it worked just fine, though my finger got tired while using Photoshop Touch’s Scribble Selection tool and its touch-based brushes, wands, stamps and erasers.

The app connects to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, letting you bring in your work via a Wi-Fi connection. From there, you can do some basic editing on your photos but there are limitations. For one, to save space on your tablet, the app generates a new file format for your images called .PSDX. These files are compatible with Photoshop CS5 but limited to 1600 x 16000 pixels. Also, they’re restricted to 16 layers. Finally, work done in Photoshop Touch is “destructive,” i.e. once edits are completed, you can’t go back and change the original image file.

The design of Photoshop Touch recalls Photoshop on a desktop but is more rudimentary. Along with importing images from Creative Cloud or directly from your tablet, you can grab shots from a camera, Google or even Facebook.

So what can you do with Photoshop Touch? Mostly basic editing stuff: adjustments, create layers, take out old backgrounds and swap in new ones, or add some canned filters such as grainy black-and-white, sepia, Gaussian blur and other familiar effects. There are over a dozen tutorials to get you started. If you’ve played with other, more robust photography apps—such as Nik Software’s excellent Snapseed app (see our review at:—you may find Photoshop Touch a bit underwhelming.

It’s just a start, however, and it’s clear Adobe is beginning to invest heavily in app-based software for tablets and smartphones. That’s a wise move. Along with Photoshop Touch, Adobe released five other touch-based design apps—Kuler, Collage, Ideas, Debut and Proto—for tablets last year. More should follow.

The Bottom Line
In practical terms, Photoshop Touch is not expensive at $9.99, but that may sound high to tablet users used to getting most of their apps for free. Take it from me, though, while I may have been hoping for a bit more with Photoshop Touch, the app is worth it.

Pros: Kind of like Photoshop but on a tablet.

Not exactly like having Photoshop on a tablet.

Price: $9.99;