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Photoshop Touch for iPhone: Impressive features on a small screen

It was, frankly, a little bit surreal to be loading Photoshop(s ADBE) on my iPhone(s AAPL) this week. PS Touch ($4.99) was released for the iPhone and iPod touch (fifth-generation), and I’m still trying to decide if this is a fantastic design accomplishment, or something of a novelty. The answer, I suspect, lies in the middle.

Powerful editing tools on small-screen devices still to me seem an odd pairing. While I appreciate the ability to make more than cursory edits to a photo on my iPhone, it’s unlikely I’m going to delve too deeply into PS Touch’s feature set on my iPhone. The screen, even on the iPhone 5, it still too small to make editing photos a joy. There aren’t many times I’ve looked at a Samsung Galaxy S screen with envy, but testing out PS Touch was one of them.

While taking a look at PS Touch, I scanned my iPhone’s Camera Roll. It appears I take a lot of pictures of my cat. Hardly the sort of photo that requires a the full might and power of PS Touch. The cat, after all, is pretty much naturally cute. Looking through my Photo Stream, it’s still a lot of pictures of cats, guitars, my friends and my favorite fishing spot. Again, hardly photos I’d want to spend significant time editing. I’m not going to assume my uses are yours, but I think most people’s iPhone photos are more of a photo diary of their life than pictures that need significant rework.

What is has, what it’s missing

Now that I’m done grousing about my Camera Roll, PS Touch for the iPhone does have an impressive feature set. You can create layers, use a variety of selection tools, including magic wand, and apply a host of effects and filters. I had a lot of fun with the filters, especially the charcoal one.

What you can’t do, that I can see, is create masks. I don’t think this is a huge deal on the small screen since I can’t imagine creating masks on the iPhone would be at all fun.What it’s really missing, though, is content-aware healing. Given the fast and loose nature of iPhone photography, being able to remove the guy mooning the camera from a lovely beach shot would be very handy.


Photoshop Touch at times isn’t a very intuitive program. It took me a few times to get how adjusting the tolerance on the magic wand worked, for example. I thought once I had made a selection, I could use the tolerance tool to expand the selection on the screen, but instead it looks like I had to reapply the wand. After playing around with it for a few hours, I had the feeling that there were likely additional features or tools I hadn’t stumbled across. The help area seems to exist largely to check off “create help file” on the project plan.

Once nice feature is you can use Adobe’s Creative Cloud to work on images between your Mac, iPad and iPhone. Again, I can’t see myself doing heavy edits on a photo on my iPhone, but it’s nice to have an easy way of getting images between the three platforms.

PS Touch ran well on my iPhone 5. While it has an impressive feature set, it almost feels like overkill on my iPhone. On my iPad, with the extra screen real estate, a version of Photoshop makes more sense. Some people might complain that it’s not a universal app, but I don’t mind. I think there’s likely enough challenges creating the separate versions to warrant a $4.99 iPhone price, with the iPad version being $9.99. And, hey, a Photoshop for $15 for both platforms seems almost like a deal with strings attached.

3 Responses to “Photoshop Touch for iPhone: Impressive features on a small screen”

  1. it is nowhere near the PC or Mac versions but Adobe have worked with system RAM and is a bit overpriced in my opinion but is the best photo editor for iOS.

  2. Yanoshick

    Poor application for pixel editing!!! Only 400% zoom is not usable. For example tiny pixels application is using 1500% zoom. Waste of money for me!!! Yanoshick (SVK)