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Adobe will bring the full Photoshop to the iPad (theverge.com)
52 points by Tomte 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 95 comments

Porting photoshop to iOS/ARM could also in part be motivated by a known or perceived Apple transition from Intel to their own ARM chips.

This sounds most likely to me. Port to IOS on ARM coupled with the rumors of IOS APIs being added to MacOS. Sounds like a first step to ARM migration overall.

It’s not a rumor. Apple announced they were doing just that at WWDC and they showed two or three apps ported from iOS to the next release of MacOS.

There was no official mention of MacOS running on ARM.

....coupled with the rumors of IOS APIs being added to MacOS

This part isn’t a rumor. It’s been confirmed by Apple.

Guiding all the big Apps developer that Apple known are slow to move to new platform before they announce the switch. May be ARM Mac is really coming.

I know a lot of people really don’t like the idea of macOS on ARM, but I think it could be really valuable for the PC market as as a whole. Intel could use more competition. And a transition towards a less closed architecture would be good for computing in general IMO.

I'm an iOS user. But frankly, iOS sucks for this kind of work. I tried. Copy pasting is slow, file handling is unnecesserily clunky (just give me a file browser Apple). And exporting always needs some kind of workaround because I can't just pop in USB drives (which my wife's Surface Pro gladly accepts).

You say you tried, but it sounds to me like you didn't try hard enough.

I'm a hobbyist photographer, and I do the vast majority of my photography work on a 9.7" iPad pro, with a Pencil. I'm constantly editing 24mp RAW files in Affinity Photo, which is about as close to full-fat Photoshop running on the iPad as you can possibly get, and let me tell you: It's fantastic.

I turn on my camera, I shoot some images. I open up Cascable, which connects to my camera's wifi, and I pull down some images. I flip through them and find one I like, the one I want to edit, so I click on that one and click "share", and then select Affinity Photo.

Affinity Photo opens. It's 95% of the power of desktop photoshop, albeit organised in subtly different ways. I do the things I would normally do: White balance, HSL, blemish touchup and even frequency separation. I click export, and save to camera roll.

It's in the camera roll, and I select it, and I share it over email to some friends, and to discord, and to instagram.

I don't get where the problem is.

I tried all sorts of work, from text editing to drawing and music creation. They all kind of work but they are needlessly complicated. On the PC/Mac I can edit a sample in Audacity and just drop it into my DAW, in most cases probably via Drag'n Drop. On iOS I'd have no guarantee if that's even possible for the two apps I'm using.

Copying an edited photo (or drawing in my case) to a flash drive involves an external computer. It's not that it's impossible it*s needlessly complicated and clunky. I don't ant to try hard enough, I want the device to make my work easier.

I'm a hobbyist too. I was in China and Korea earlier this year for a couple of weeks and took 270GB of photographs. Do you think this would scale for me?

Complete side note to the actual discussion, but I really like your description workflow, it sounds like you got yourself set up very nicely. What camera are you shooting with?

Also hobbyist photographer. Will definitely try this out. It's still hard to beat in my opinion as desktop workflow with the nice help of plugins etc.

You're a hobbyist. This isn't a professional workflow that works for a large number of images. And that tiny display?

What do you expect from a file browser that the current document picker interface doesn’t give you? The one missing feature I see is that you can’t just attach a USB storage device and it shows up as a source along with Dropbox, ICloud Drive, OneDrive, etc.

Personally, I’m imagining a future where you don’t need a USB drive to move files between devices. Dropbox, Creative Cloud, Universal AirDrop.

I would like the touchscreen paradigm to be expanded. Pencil, force touch, and perhaps something like Kinect/Soli:


I’d love it if airdrop worked. I have had some success iphone to iphone (iphone6). However iphone6 to mid 2014 mbp on the latest stable osx and 9 times out of 10 it fails. I thought staying in the Apple ecosystem would prevent stress from integation issues, but the reality is unless you subscribe to icloud you are in for a rough ride.

I wonder why it’s failing for you. I can’t recall a single time Airdrop hasn’t worked for me since it was first introduced. Over the years I’ve used it between different kinds of both iOS devices and Macs.

> Personally, I’m imagining a future where you don’t need a USB drive to move files between devices. Dropbox, Creative Cloud, Universal AirDrop.

Isn't that the paradigm we're currently in? Local file management is terrible on iOS. For professional photography (one the markets that Photoshop targets) cloud storage is not up to the task. The raw files from my work camera are 85MB each. I average about 1500 shots per shoot. That's a lot of time waiting for files to upload.

Personally I'm imagining a future where my files are not in the hands of the surveillance capitalists.

Don’t you have a file browser now ? What are the main limitations you are hitting ?

That's true, but most of the time, I need to explicitly export files to the file browser, unlike on Android (the last time I used it) where I could just open the file another app has stored somewhere on the file system. I understand their reason for doing it this way, but it's cumbersome that every app has a different way of supporting file interaction, instead of using an already working system: a file system.

This is arguably a chicken-and-egg problem. If products like Photoshop make these pain points obvious to more users, Apple has good reason to improve such workflows.

Affinity Photo on the iPad made quite a splash and was Apple's software of the year in some category. I guess it showed Adobe that there is real money to be made.

And Affinity Designer for iPad has just been released.

And Affinity apps are astonishingly good value for what they are.

Designer on iOS is currently £13, with no subscription.

Adobe should be worried. It’s the first real competition they’ve had in years, especially as their iOS apps are pretty much junk.

I imagine it's less about money to be made but rather about fearing money to lose. Affinity offering a more and more well rounded solution with their Photoshop, Illustrator and now upcoming Indesign competitor, most of which are already on iPad today. With a Lightroom competitor in the works, I imagine Adobe is worried people will leave them completely for Affinity because of some customer's hatred of the subscription model, and lack of iCloud and other Apple specific tech. If affinity designer didn't release their app yesterday and announce publisher I'm sure Adobe wouldn't have leaked this news today. Excited for all the competition.

I will leave Lightroom and and InDesign the moment Affinity releases their equivalents. No, I don't care about hundreds of existing LR presets, I'll do everything to free myself from Adobe's arrogant lock-in.

They sorely need the asset manager they‘re already working on. I would have prioritized that over Designer, because it‘s holding many people back from leaving Lightroom for Photo.

I am not a customer for this but I see the value. An iPad Pro is easier for me to always have available, I feel it is less intrusive on my life than always having an open laptop handy.

My must have iPad apps to be somewhat independent of a laptop are: OmniGraffle for producing diagrams, Prompt for SSH shells, Microsoft Office 365 apps for dealing with material from other people, TextTastic and Working Copy for github, etc.

My use of a laptop with external monitor is really limited to doing software development.

For creative types, tablets with apps like Photoshop should help cut the cord to being tied to a full blown computer.

Microsoft Whiteboard was announced today, and I like the idea. I think Apple needs to step up and provide similar group collaborative tools. Apple does a great job of smooth workflow between iPhone/iPad/MacBook but they have opportunities for improvement in collaborative tooling.

Well that's disappointing :(, I would have expected the full Photoshop experience to be ported to the web instead, not in Apple's locked garden. Sigh.

Browsers don't have the power or the speed to run the most demanding loads that Photoshop require (especially without using more memory than needed)

At some point you really need to manipulate image data (from/to disk) in weird ways that's just not possible in a browser

Try opening a .jpg file that's bigger than available memory in PS and see how that goes (harder now as memory is not so constrained) as opposed to other softwares

This is not even true in the classical JavaScript world. A 10 year old tiling image viewer (think of any map viewer) proves the opposite.

Given we have WebAssembly and friends nowadays, you can think of the browser as a X86 VM host if you whish, with similar limitations (= no relevant limitations for running PS).

You can't really load giga bytes of data in a web page without that page dying. The issue isn't really what Javascript can or cannot do (though speed is obviously a concern). Even if you manage to stream the data somehow you still need to persist it locally, and I'm pretty sure no browser allows that kind of quota. Photoshop feature complete is not going to run in the browser soon.

If what you said was true we would already have late Xbox 360 and PS3 like games running in the browser...with acceptable performances on high end hardware, which is clearly not the case.

Why do you need to persist it locally?

You need to load the app at first place. Launch Photoshop CC and check how much memory it takes. Then open a 200 MB psd.

ex-Adobe engineer here - don't be disappointed, I think they'll do it soon.

I was working in the acrobat team till last month, and we were working on porting the Acrobat Reader to the web. When I left it was in the internal beta stage with minor UX tweaking work left. It is expected to be release very soon.

I think similar efforts may be (or will soon be) ongoing in other teams as well.

Interesting. Pretty great that Adobe didn't require a non disclosure of that type of information for a set time after leaving the company like most. Bravo for Adobe for allowing their ex employees freedom to talk about what they are working on.

Yes adobe is pretty open in that respect. Our team was also planning to present this in google io, but somehow that did not materalize and autodesk beat us to the punch by demoing something very similar!

What kind of advantage would this kind of information give to competition? If anything, it shows they're serious about the product, trying new strategies and so on.

There will be likely a WebAssembly-based port to browser as well like what AutoDesk demonstrated recently, with Web DRM locked garden for a change and without any GPU acceleration.

I wonder what the battery life will be like for a full Photoshop session with a decent number of layers and filters being rendered in real-time while editing a reasonably large photograph.

You can already run heavy games on iOS devices that tax the system even worse (audio, network). So based on this it should be couple of hours minimum.

Mouse/trackpad cursor support, keyboard shortcuts, and robust filesystem access are required to intelligently use Photoshop. Does Adobe expect that iOS will eventually get there?

iPads support keyboards. Wacom's entire business is predicated on mouse/trackpad being inferior to styluses for many uses of this and similar software.

And... while there are some pretty easy UI wins Apple could make there [eg: the special handling of 'photos' in many apps makes treating them as 'just files' awkward] the iOS 11 system seems reasonable for most common workflows. Do you have any specific complaints?

I'm sure adobe would like the ecosystem to get better for them over time, but there's nothing blocking their software from being useful on the iPads of today.

I also am dubious about touch controls and the amount of real estate required for that, but with Apple Pencil and a BT keyboard could work ok

Didn’t they try this before? I had a copy of the Photoshop Touch(?) app previously. It was on iOS and Android. I think it was 32bit though, so no chance it still works on iOS.

It was very very limited and clunky. Perhaps they later added more Adobe Cloud integration, but that alone wouldn’t help much.

I think this feels like a step forward, but I bet it's going to be a while before this is usable for heavy PS work. The main issues for me are that I use photoshop with as many keyboard shortcuts as possible and if I need a bt keyboard then to me it's already more cumbersome than a small laptop. Plus, photoshop clobbers RAM. There's no way you could use it at speed on a wee tablet.

Well, I expect this is the beginning of the end for macOS. iOS and macOS have been converging for a long time. First Photoshop runs on iOS, then Apple makes larger and larger "i" devices until there's one with a 27" screen that sits on your desk, then there's no reason for macOS. At that point everything happens inside one of Apple's sanctioned App Store apps.

That's a definite and worrisome possibility, yes. But the App Store is 10 years old now, and they haven't required it on macOS so far, so there's hope!

I'm interested to see how the UI paradigms will transfer to a touch oriented device.

I wonder if people will drop Photoshop from their list of deficiencies when the topic Tablet vs. PC comes up. Often, some people bring up the lack of productivity tools like PS, X_Cad, writing and building code etc.

My Photoshop workflow depends on its ability to act as a plugin host for third party workflow tools and to integrate with the rest of a professional toolchain. So, for me, Photoshop functionally remains a PC/Mac application. (This applies to most applications ported to iOS or even the Web with such fanfare -- I still use Office plugins here and there...)

It's the same with music software.

It's wonderful that Reaper has a native Linux version! I might just go with Linux when I have the means to build a dedicated mixing and mastering computer, though I'll miss the ease and quality of SerumFX. Unfortunately, few VST developers have taken advantage of the new Linux support in the VST SDK. And then there's Ableton Live. All of it runs on Windows and Mac. None of it is likely to see an iOS port.

I need my whole workflow to come along. None of it is trivially replaced.

I didn't even think of music stuff. I use Logic Pro at the moment as my primary mixer for the video stuff I do (mostly because the remoting capabilities are nicer--Logic Remote is a lot nicer than Lemur or other OSC stuff) and...well, now I'm a little queasy.

Apple is introducing some advanced automation features with iOS 12 that may go a long way toward making that easier.

Assuming plugins get updated for an arbitrary new standard that is wholly incompatible both with existing tools and with existing platforms (every Photoshop plugin I have works on Mac and PC and there is zero percent chance that those, even if they are updated, would not be a disgusting upcharge for iOS), sure.

Or one could not use it at all.

It is not an “arbitrary new standard”. It’s an enhanced port of the Workflow app that Apple acquired a year ago. They added functionality, but the core of inter process communications is the x-callback-url protocol that third party developers have been supporting for years.


As far as app support, you act as if iOS is some backwood platform without robust third party support.

Third party developers on a mobile platform designed for consumption and very light productivity, sure. Meanwhile, in the world of what is and not what somebody might handwave could be, Photoshop plugins are binary plugins that talk to a C++ API. These plugins are not going to be rewritten for a callback URL protocol and if they were to be it will be slower, less sturdy, and almost certainly to the detriment of platforms that people actually use for this stuff.

I know perfectly well what iOS provides for IPC and it is insufficient for big-boy tasks. I mean, for real: are you going to throw a 16K image with 20-100 layers across heckin' x-callback-url every every time the user makes a change because you want to recompute a layer transform? Do you want it to come back before you die of old age? Or is it actually that, no, this isn't for for-realsies work, this is for the kind of dabbler who won't notice that, and for-realsies work should stay on a Mac until they kill it and we go back to Windows and Linux?

And please don't get me wrong: I'm acting as if the plugins that big-boy apps host are sometimes a decade old and are effectively out of support, because nothing in the Photoshop (or, indeed, most production) universe dies unless, well, Apple kills it. It's even more common for Office plugins and, as mentioned by another poster, it's literally more common than not for audio apps. (Gonna replace VSTs with x-callback-url? We binary-bolt this stuff together because a millisecond is a long time, remember...)

I don't think I understand how one could possibly use Photoshop effectively with such imprecise and limited input options as touch. I don't think I'd be able to do it on a surface the size of an IPad with a good stylus, let alone my grubby sausage fingers. Especially without keyboard shortcuts to reduce the amount of clicking around to select different tools and navigate.

iPad has a better resolution and color reproduction than many displays.

The apple pencil is pretty good. As of the most recent generation of iPads, all current iPads support it too (not just the iPad Pros, as was the case in the past).

But what about "gorilla arm"? I used to hear that as an excuse for why touch screen windows laptops with a pen were impractical.

That applies more to larger vertically mounted touch screens (including laptops with touch screens). Using an iPad with a stylus isn’t very different from using a Wacom tablet, which are fairly standard in the industry that uses photoshop anyways.

Interesting - wonder if Android too?

I wish Sketch or Figma had iPad/pro support too.

The Android high end tablet market is basically non existent.

yeah.. but you can actually use a mouse!

For precision pointing there is the pencil - yes it is sub optimal.

Sketch on iPad would be amazing.

The complete Photoshop is a pro-level app that makes a lot of sense on an iPad. Illustrator would also be great. Easy enough to write out a new PDF, but so hard to edit an existing PDF.

I think Illustrator would work much better than Photoshop. I don't know too many people who don't have third party plugins in their professional (nontrivial, couldn't-just-use-Pixelmator) workflows, or don't need pretty fast storage for stuff like batch jobs. Illustrator tends to be used more as-is, in my experience.

How often would anyone do pro-level PS work on an iPad? I'm sure some will. Some just love love the attention of "swinging their junk around" in public. But that's - hopefully - a pretty small market.

Niche uses? Yeah probably. But general pro-level? I'm reaching for the erase tool ;)

Hopefully, this means we’ve reached some critical mass of Mac apps moving over.

Because the iPad is the future of computing, much the same way the GUI superseded text interfaces.

After some initial craze in the first years, I rarely even see an iPad (or any other tablet) in the wild anymore. Smartphones getting bigger seem to have already replaced them.

It is a really valuable tool for knowledge workers. If you study medicine for example a lot of courses provide you with tons of slides with low information density. The last thing you want to do is carry them around as printed out stacks of paper. You need to be able to annotate them and draw little diagrams on them. For that an IPad Pro is perfect.

iPads are used a lot by myself and musicians I know; there are a lot of cheap apps that cover virtual synths, drum machines, song learning, DJing, even full DAWs. They are amazing machines that 'just work' for many musical situations.

The "future of computing" is a device where you can't install your own software without the permission of a large undemocratic foreign company? Sounds horrible.

Cars and trucks, right? As much as us on HN don't like to admit it, regular users don't really care that the App Store is the only place to get apps.

s/full Photoshop/full Photoshop functionality/

I guess it would be hard to move the application as it is

I can’t even fathom using photoshop without keyboard shortcuts... iPad keypads are not useful.

The iPad will happily connect to a standard Bluetooth keyboard, and I'm almost certain it'll include keyboard shortcuts in this fashion (at least if they're planning on any professional user using it!)

I have the same question. I am not a Pro PS user by any means, but I have yet to see anyone using PS with "only" mouse. And for a touch input devices like iPad, how will this translate well? I did imagine they will need a bluetooth keyboard ?

That's 100% marketing talk. There will be no native running "full" Photoshop. Maybe it will be cloud hosted like on chromebooks but porting the behemoth that photoshop is is not gonna happen.

I'm not sure why that'd be the case.

I don't doubt that Photoshop on a desktop machine will usually perform better. But the latest iPad Pro models have six-core 2.3GHz processors and 4GB of RAM. It was only a few years ago that were were doing pro photography work with machines of that specification.

The challenges are definitely going to be building a productive and useful UI using the iPad's input constraints. This is something that might be more effective on a device like the Surface. But I'm sure there are ways to build a good user experience on an iPad, so we'll need to wait and see what happens.

This is not a pro tool. It is called PRO like Windows 10 PRO there is no way an ipad can handle pro resolution (10k+). The input methods available right now are not fit to do pro work.

Hmm, not sure it's that clear-cut.

The iPad can almost certainly handle massive images just fine. The industry has been getting by with that sort of processing power for some time. I can't comment on support for 10k images specifically, but 4k video editing works pretty well, and 30MP+ images too (so 8k-ish?). And while there's a segment of pro work that needs 10k+ support, it's not everything – just because the whole professional market isn't supported doesn't mean a segment of it isn't! (I haven't had much call to edit anything in excess of 4k for a long while, despite using Photoshop pretty heavily).

The input methods might be a challenge, like I said, but it's possible to think of ways in which a good editing experience might be achieved, with the compromise being worth the trade-off in portability – but we'll need to wait and see before jumping to conclusions!

It is a pretty clear cut we are talking about 16bit images not 8bit. When my workstation with 64gb ram is coughing an ipad will die under the load. Just don't call it PRO.

Honestly I think your definition of "pro" is far too narrow to be useful.

It's plainly obvious that not every professional user requires support for multi-gigabyte image files. I've never even used a workstation with 64GB of memory, despite being a professional Photoshop user for a long time.

Just a bit of a silly thing to complain about, really.

Yeah, I am looking forward to clients who want the "open" data files can't open them on their ipad."But it runs full photoshop now clearly you did something wrong."

Exactly. From gf's experience, doing her many-layers/high-resolution work even in older Photoshop versions on RAM lower than 16GB is a nightmare. At 16GB it barely starts to be usable.

We're working on a 2D game. Some years ago, when PCs had lower amounts of RAM, games didn't even had to include full HD assets. These days you may even target 4K. While you're at such resolution already, you may even go a bit further and keep it at printable quality for easy marketing. This eats lots of resources, no iPad will be up to such task. It will work fine for occasional, amateur editing, with low resolutions and low amounts of layers, but definitely not in our professional case.

That's a really specific case. But the idea that a heavily multicore device with gigabytes of RAM is suitable only for "occasional, amateur editing" is just laughable.

Well, part of my argument was that this isn't really a very specific case: these days if you do any screen-targetting work that consists of many layers, you will have a very hard time doing it on 4GB RAM.

Built my flat mate a new computer last year for photoshop work. His files are huge. Full spec iMac at the time lagged like there’s no tomorrow. After building new pc and putting 64gb of ram, allocate enough to photoshop and opened up a 1gb psd which used to take over a minute to load. Was loaded in a few seconds and buttery smooth. Photoshop loves a good ssd and ram.

Why not?

Because ipads are not beefy enough to work in pro environments.

I can run Photoshop on my 2012 Macbook Air. That surely isn't suited for "pro environments" either.

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