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Photoshop for iPad road map details much-needed early 2020 updates

Adobe wants you to know that the app's big missing capabilities are Very Important to it.

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With Photoshop on iPad's current tools, having to fix the edges of this extremely basic selection is annoyingly tedious. (Enlarge to see how ugly the edges are.) Adobe plans to rectify that in the first half of 2020.

Lori Grunin/CNET

When Adobe launched the long-awaited iPad version of Photoshop in October, it looked like we had a little more waiting to do before it could really be used as intended; among other things, its masking and retouching tools are underpowered, especially given that Adobe's planning to charge $10 a month for a stand-alone version (at the moment, the cheapest way to get it is as part of the $10 a month Photography plan). So today Adobe has given us more of an idea as to what its priorities are by telling when we can expect some of those essential tools to appear

By the end of this year, it will have incorporated the Select Subject tool that just debuted in the desktop version; Select Subject uses AI to guess what the main subject in a photo is and select it. Additionally, Adobe will be rolling out performance enhancements for its cloud documents for faster upload and download.

In the first half of 2020, we can expect Refine Edge. That's the hole currently in the app; without it, it's almost impossible to fine-tune selection edges without tedious pixel editing, essential for any compositing app like Photoshop. We'll also get a Curves tool for tonal adjustments, and expanded options (like color ranges) in Levels. There will be other updates to adjustment layers as well.

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And let's not forget the ability to rotate the canvas -- that'll be coming in the first half of the year, too, along with sensitivity controls for the Apple Pencil and a less clunky workflow (I hope) for dealing with raw images, though it will still involve processing via the Lightroom app first.

Adobe's currently running aggressive Black Friday promotions for its Creative Cloud All Apps subscription plans through Nov. 29, but you may need to ponder before diving in.