Photoshop comes to the iPad, sort of

Unfortunately, this is not a true mobile version of the full Photoshop program; instead it's an update to the existing iPhone app, called Photoshop Express, with added support for the iPad display.

Adobe's Photoshop is one of those ubiquitous tools that touches everyone's life in one way or another. As the universal default program for photo and image manipulation, you may have used it to crop and retouch snapshots, create Web site ads or graphics, or just played around with making your own fake future iPhone design mock-ups. And if you're not actually a user, rest assured, pretty much every image you see online or in a magazine has been put through the program to some degree.

As a bit of a Photoshop wiz (I'd call myself a high-functioning amateur), I was excited to see a version of the program released for the iPad on August 12. After all, though it may not actually take pictures, the iPad's large screen and touch controls make it a good candidate for displaying and editing them. My personal Photoshop experience runs more toward making composite images to illustrate stories--you may occasionally see my handiwork around this site if I'm feeling inspired, and in a former life as the editor-in-chief of a photo-driven pop culture Web site , I often had to pitch in to assist my overworked art director.

Those are some very happy looking sample-photo people.

Unfortunately, this is not a true mobile version of the full Photoshop program; instead it's an update to the existing iPhone app, called Photoshop Express , with added support for the iPad display. That means you won't be doing any selecting, cutting, pasting, or pixel-by-pixel touch up. The available tools are limited to cropping and rotating, brightness and tint tools, a handful of filters (sketch, blur, and sharpen), and a selection of photo borders and color-tint filters (including a four-quadrant Warhol-like pastiche).

The individual controls are activated by running your finger left and right across the screen, thereby raising and lowering the brightness level or the amount of sharpening, for example. It's reasonably precise if you really focus on moving your finger carefully, but onscreen faders or knobs seem like a more elegant solution.

It's not a bad app, and for free, it's very nicely put together--but users are clearly expecting more, judging from the overwhelming negative ratings on Apple's app store. With the iPad's large display and touch-control capabilities, we could certainly see a more full-featured version of Photoshop as a useful tool.

About the author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.


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