Adobe to roll out new Photoshop apps for iPad

Apr 11, 2011
Tech

Steve Jobs might believe we’re in a post-PC world, but it seems that Adobe (ADBE) sees it as more a PC-tablet dynamic duo world. The company just released a new software development kit that will allow developers to create iPad apps that interact with its famous suite of graphics and publishing software, Adobe CS5, according […]

Steve Jobs might believe we’re in a post-PC world, but it seems that Adobe (ADBE) sees it as more a PC-tablet dynamic duo world.

The company just released a new software development kit that will allow developers to create iPad apps that interact with its famous suite of graphics and publishing software, Adobe CS5, according to a story from All Things Digital. Adobe’s programs include Photoshop, the ubiquitous image-editing software, and others like Illustrator and InDesign, which has become a benchmark in journalism and publishing.

To show off the possibilities of what developers can create with the new SDK, Adobe is launching three new iPad apps of its own in may: Adobe Eazel, Adobe Color Lava, and Adobe Nav. All three will allow users to make their iPads into companions for Photoshop work.

It’s an interesting concept. Each of the apps, which will range in price from $1.99 to $4.99 when they hit the App Store next month, take different aspects of Photoshop and basically blow them up on the iPad. Color Lava, for example, allows you to use the iPad’s touch interface to mix colors together, almost as if you were mixing paints in reality. New colors can be transferred back to Photoshop to be used in the actual nuts-and-bolts graphics work, which is really done on a PC.

The other apps allow for transferring small interactions back and forth from the iPad to the PC as well. Adobe Nav is a navigation tool that turns the iPad into a spare screen, allowing users to look through files and create news ones without taking up screen space on a PC. The app can also alter Photoshop’s toolbar and do a few other minor things that can save time when looking for different functions on a PC. Finally, Eazel uses touch controls to let iPad owners create paintings on the device, then transfer them back to Photoshop for editing and manipulation.

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All three apps and the SDK in general sound like they could be some compelling and useful tools for fans of Photoshop and Adobe’s other products, but it’s interesting that the rumored “Photoshop for iPad” app we’ve been hearing about for a while now isn’t among them. It might be too early to tell, but the release of the SDK seems to suggest that Adobe’s idea was the create these companion apps, rather than a big Photoshop app on its own.

That puts the iPad, in Adobe’s conception, squarely in a supporting role and not necessarily the starring one that Apple (AAPL) CEO Jobs likes to tout when he’s talking to the press. In this case, and many others, the iPad is a great tool for working with other great tools, but it certainly isn’t replacing the power and ease of use of a PC — it’s just supplying easier ways to do certain things within the same realm.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The iPad can do a lot of great things, but its success comes from Apple and developers knowing what its role is. There’s a reason tablet PCs failed before the iPad was released — they often tried to be more than they could be. The iPad isn’t a device that can replace the PC; it’s one that’s great at supporting it. Adobe’s got this idea down, it would seem, and by keeping the focus of their apps tight, it’s finding ways to make the iPad more useful to people who use its products, without overreaching.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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