What we REALLY want in a Photoshop iPad App!

Last night I was talking with a buddy, and we started talking about what we would really like to see in a Photoshop iPad app. I think all the things that Adobe is doing right now in that space, especially with their introduction of a Software Development Kit (SDK) enabling other people to create apps that interact with Photoshop is incredible. However….

…..what I really want is for Adobe to create Photoshop as an App for the iPad. Real Photoshop. Basically, “Photoshop for the iPad” with the same type of interface, where everything is where we expect it to be—not some reimagined program that really isn’t Photoshop. I don’t want to learn something completely new, or I’ll just stick with the iPad photo apps I have now. I want PHOTOSHOP! Real Photoshop!

We can’t have it all
Now, I know there’s no way possible to have the complete version of Photoshop CS5, which is designed to run on a very powerful computer with literally Gigs of RAM, run on an iPad with just Megs of RAM, and that’s fine because I don’t want everything that Photoshop CS5 can do in “Photoshop for the iPad.”

For example, Photoshop CS5 has 108 filters. I just need six.

Photoshop has more than 80 tools. I just need 19.

There is tons of stuff I don’t use on my full version of Photoshop, so I surely don’t need them in my iPad version. For example, I don’t need the single-pixel Marquee tools or the Art History Brush. I don’t need the Paint Bucket tool, or the Note tool, or the rotate view tool, or the Background Eraser tool. I could go on and on.

I don’t need all this stuff either:
Same thing with Panels (we can’t have them all, right?). I can live without the Animation panel and the Measure Log panel (yes, that’s a real panel), and the Navigator and Tool Presets (among others).

I don’t need all those Image Adjustments either, like Variations and Channel Mixer, and Posterize and Threshold (if any of those made you gasp—NOT THAT ONE!!!! Just remember, you’ll still have Desktop Photoshop—you don’t have to trade it for the iPad version).

So, I went through Photoshop and looked at stripping it down to just the bare essentials that I’d need for editing my photos, retouching my photos, and doing what I need to do daily in Photoshop. I wouldn’t use my “Photoshop for iPad” for magazine production jobs, or building Web sites from scratch, or processing 1,200 images from a Wedding shoot (that’s for “Lightroom for the iPad”). But I don’t want to learn the 3rd party Apps out there, and keep switching every three weeks to the new “Latest & Greatest” photo app. I want one App that I can stick with. I want Photoshop for the iPad.

Here’s what I want in it (and just this stuff, unless of course, I forgot something really useful, which is entirely possible):

The Move Tool
Marque Selection Tools
Lasso tool
History Brush
Crop Tool
Eyedropper Tool
The Healing, Brush
The Clone Stamp Tool
Gradient Tool
Pen Tool and Path Selection Arrows
The Line tool
Type Tool
Mag Glass (Zoom tool)
Grabber Hand
Eraser Tool
Quick Select Tool

Gaussian Blur
Lens Correction
High Pass
Unsharp Mask
Add Noise

Photo Filter

Character Panel
Actions Panel
Brush Panel
Channels Panel
Layers Panel
History Panel
Adjustments Panel

Other stuff
Smart Objects
Free Transform
Transform Selection
Refine Edge (+ remove mattes + Defringe)
Image Processor
Define Brush Preset
Photo Merge (auto-align layers)
Load Selection
Rulers & Guides
Image size & Canvas Size

So that’s the list, but again—it has to look and feel JUST LIKE PHOTOSHOP. If I wanted another program, I’d be using that instead.

What do YOU want to see?
OK, so that’s what I’d like to see included, but to make this what “We” really want, I’d love to hear what you guys would expect in a full-blown Photoshop for the iPad (if Adobe would even consider it?).

What do YOU want to pay?
If you’re thinking $9.99, you can absolutely guarantee that Adobe will never produce this App. They’re not going to take a $700 software application, and make it into a $10 App and stay in business very long. So, would you pay:

(a) $49
(b) $99
(c) $199
(d) $299
(e) $399

If it did all those things, did them all very well, and it was REALLY Photoshop for the iPad?

Let me know what you think on both counts. I really want to see what you guys think of this idea (and I want to Adobe to see, too!).

P.S. I’d like a separate app called simply “Camera Raw for iPad.” :)

  1. I would want to be able to do simple edits on the iPad, there just isn’t enough real estate and horse power to get too get involved into deep edits. Sighting those restrictions I could see paying between $49 t0 $79 for the app, but not much more.

  2. Ya know… I bought the Asus EP121 and it runs Photoshop CS5 & Lightroom 3 amazingly well! I waited because I didn’t want the limitations of an iPad and was rewarded.
    Bonus-Wacom tablet & pen!
    Draw back-only 2.5 hrs of continuous use (but I can live with it)

    1. Hi Richard,

      I’m interested by your experience with the EP121 – are you using the pen directly on the screen, or on a separate Wacom tablet? I couldn’t tell from your comment. Did you calibrate the screen? Is it up to the task of decent color correction?

      Thanks in advance and best regards,


      1. Yep, using the included Wacom pen right on the screen. The screen is very bright and accurate as far as colors go. I’ve shot my D3 tethered to it in Lightroom and it’s very fast at showing the results. It’s a full laptop experience in a tablet format.

      2. Very cool, thanks for your answer. I’m shooting a D3 too, so the tethered tip comes as a bonus :).

  3. Using Photoshop on an iPad seems utterly unappealing and useless to me. It’s like asking what 5-star meal should be included on the McDonald’s menu. Following this analogy, I know you’ve tried to pare it down from a 5-star meal to 5-star side-dish (e.g. vegetables ). But if you’re going to McDonald’s in the first place, you don’t want 5-star vegetables. You want it quick and dirty.

    Same with the iPad. The extent of Photoshop’s usefulness on the iPad is for making something quick and dirty. A mock-up of something. And I imagine not many photographers give clients mock-ups of retouched images. So if a person were to buy Photoshop for the iPad, and would only realistically use it for mock-ups, then why spend the money?

    I realize this argument presumes a mock-up being the limit of iPad Photoshop’s usefulness. But come on – how many people would actually want to edit a portfolio-worthy photograph on an iPad? Wouldn’t you want to use the best tool available? And wouldn’t the most realistic target audience of iPad Photoshop be pre-existing Photoshop users?

    1. Hi Sterling:
      (1) Were you hungry when you wrote this comment? ;-)
      (2) Not every image you edit is going to “Portfolio worthy,” no matter where you edit it. I edit images all the time on my iPad now. About every Photoshop user I know has PhotoGene for iPad which does much of the stuff I mentioned here. I wouldn’t use it for Mock-ups; I would use it for image editing in the field.
      (3) I think you’re way under estimating what can be doing, image editing wise, today on an iPad. You need to try Filter Storm or PhotoGene, and see what they’re doing, and you realize that if Adobe doesn’t do something better, and soon, we’ll always be using somebody else’s apps to edit our images on our iPads.

      1. Thanks for the reply. I am hungry, as a matter of fact. And McDonald’s sounds pretty good.

        My perspective is probably significantly skewed because I do a fair amount of high-end beauty retouching in PS.

        But you’re right – not every photograph of my own that I edit in PS is portfolio-worthy. And I wouldn’t mind doing small tweaks to images I shoot and load onto an iPad. So to bring the discussion back to your original question of what I would most like to see in an iPad Photoshop app, I would most like to see Camera Raw.

        I don’t know if truly reading Raw is a possibility on an iPad, but that is the extent of the iPad editing I would be interested in. I’ll check out those apps you mentioned – maybe they’ll change my mind ;)

      2. I totally agree with Sterling in the comment below about what I would most like to see in an iPad Photoshop app:
        Camera Raw!

      3. I am more in Sterling’s camp here. What I would rather see is extending the screen to the iPad so that it could operate like a Cintiq, there by providing some much needed competition to Wacom.

      4. Indeed … once you have used Filterstorm (even better Filterstorm Pro) or Photogene on the iPad … PS for iPad better have a really robust feature set if they are to expect $49 or more when you consider what Fs and Pg can do for sub $20 … just sayn’

        I use Filterstorm and now Filterstorm Pro on the iPad to process and upload images from sporting events on deadline with the iPad … and I have to say it works quite well … and I would have to say … at least some of the images were worthy of my portfolio … which is another job my iPad does well … portfolio presentation on location … so it’s all good …

      5. Butch—thank you for pointing that out. People are saying here “We don’t need Photoshop for the iPad…” yet there are already apps that people are buying TODAY that do many of the things I’ve listed here, PLUS there are Apps out there TODAY that do things and have features Photoshop CS5 doesn’t have. Pros and serious photographers alike are using these apps TODAY, and they are already part of their workflow. Powerful apps like Filterstorm Pro and Photogene are already here. They have Levels, Curves, hue/sat, Unsharp Mask, Noise reduction, masking, cloning, vignetting, text, black & white conversions and so on already. I’m not talking about something that could happen “one day”—these 3rd party Apps have it right now. “Photoshop for the iPad” wouldn’t be for everybody, just like Photogene or Filterstorm isn’t for everybody, but I’d darn sure buy it. I have all the others, but I’d prefer to use a program I already know, with a look and feel I’m already used to. People can sit here and give all the reasons they don’t need Adobe to do Photoshop for the iPad, but guess what—photographers are already doing serious editing on their iPads, and other companies are already making versions of “Photoshop for the iPad”—they just have different names. I just want one from Adobe. :)

  4. Our iPad’s touchscreen could (at best) eliminate the need for a great many “magic” tools, or at (at least) simplify their usage. I think this feature alone could revolutionize the program’s usefulness and functionality.

  5. No Paint Bucket Tool??? How could you throw out that one?? :D

    Interesting idea, Scott, but I’m with Richard on this one. Too many compromises that you can overcome with a small PC or a MacBook Air, plus the ability to use a Wacom tablet (is that possible with the current iPad form factor?) is a HUGE plus.

    I know the iPad is sexy and all, but its use as a Photoshop editing machine is not that desirable to me, at least not in its current state, but anything is possible in the future. More RAM, faster processors and bigger hard drives in an increasingly smaller size that would fit into the iPad will most certainly happen. Another concern is if current iPad users could even use a future PS app on their machines. Sort of like the dilemma that new HDTV owners have now that 3D is becoming more prevalent in the home. It would be great to have, but do we really NEED it?

    Just my .02. You know, we’ll probably look back on this blog post in 5 years on our PhotoShop Mobile-equipped iPad 6’s and say “Damn…that Scott Kelby was quite the visionary!” 8)


      1. Ken:

        I just don’t stay up that late anymore. The only reason I was up early this AM was because the Red Sox were playing the Angels on the West Coast. I’ll concede the first posting to you, but you never know…I may pop in early on occasion! 8)


  6. I would gladly pay $49 for an Adobe Photoshop app that did all that you listed. I haven’t bought a photo editing app for my iPad because I have been waiting patiently for a Photoshop app. But now that it seems that they may not I guess I need to check out PhotoGene.

  7. PLUGINS, PLUGINS, PLUGINS… I do like your list Scott, I don’t have an IPad but I thought, I couldn’t use PS without my Plugins…

    For Retouching your list is spot on. Wouldn’t pay over $99 for an app that that couldn’t keep from crashing due to RAM and Processor issues…(Plugins may very well make it crash as well).

  8. Great post…need to think more, but I like the start that you give to this iPad dreaming. However, when I get my iPad (waiting for a few months as I am not in the country) it will not really be used to replace completely my Mac, but instead to give me mobile ability in my workflow. So I will be looking at onOne’s tethered app, using iPad for portfolios, but what I am more interested in (because for me, I spend more time in LR than PS) is seeing a Lightroom app. That would be awesome!!

    Are these guys moving in the right direction? http://filterstorm.com/pro/videos

    What they have done so far is cool, but to keep our workflow within LR would be much more efficient, but Filterstorm guys are worth a look.

  9. I can see a use for this. I think its probably NOT going to do raw…. the file sizes alone would exclude that. But for Jpg editing from an imported shot direct from the new “camera kit” I often just want to sharpen and make slight exposure changes. maybe crop. Oh but wait a minute… Photogene does that…!

  10. A very wise and thoughtful post. In considering this, I think we should also recognise the limitations of the iPad. For example, I’ve got used to having a ‘pen’ in my hand with the Wacom tablet when lassoing or spot healing. I like the big screen of my desktop mac. As Ken says above, the iPad Photoshop is more likely to be used on the move with images that need and can be processed quickly. The software perhaps needs to reflect that.
    Happy Easter everyone!

  11. Price: The app store requires a low pricing model, expensive apps don’t sell. Photogene for iPad is only €2,39. Filterstorm €2,99 or €11,99 for pro.

    Adobe will never be able to compete with that, only if they make a dumbed down version that’s not even worthy of the name Photoshop.

    I also see a lot of technical problems. No mouse, no wacom tablet, no calibrating your screen. Not to mention UI problems (how are they going to put all of that in one app and still make it fast and easy to use, which is required for on-the-go editing/apps)

    I just don’t see this working, but maybe that’s just me.

    1. Good points Jorn! I love the App Store’s model, and I think this does give other developer’s great opportunities to get into the “game” — and to be honest, Filterstorm’s ability looks like it would cover what a mobile user (aka iPad user) would want….

  12. Why not have them develop a hybrid that is mostly Lightroom with some Photoshop functionality. Call it “Lightshop” or “Photoroom”. I can not see the why Adobe would create a watered down version of Photoshop to be used on an iPad when an iPad would be used for quick edits and maybe some moderate manipulation. Lightroom would serve most of the needs for people who have an iPad, but adding some Photoshop features would make more appealing and be a better reason for people to spend the money for the app. This is just my two cents worth, but I would be more than willing to pay for a slightly watered down version of Lightroom but that had some features only found in Photoshop.

    I guess a better analogy would be: Why take a luxury car and strip down, when you can take an average care and modify it to have some luxury comforts.

    If they came out with a product approaching from that angle, I’d be willing to pay around $80-$120 for it.

    1. I agree with all except the name. Adobe needs to give us Lightroom on the iPad, that keeps catalogs up-to-date allows us to use the same features as the full blown version without the print, web, slideshow just library and develop.

      This way is not another new program just a paired down iPad app.

  13. As much as I think about it, I can’t find a use for editing photos on a tablet. First off I shoot RAW, if it can’t do RAw then whats the point? I’m not going to convert all my photos to jpeg just to process them on a tablet. I’ll juist fire up my laptop and use Lightroom.

    The only time I really shoot jpeg is with my P+S. If I am using a P+S it usually means I am on vacation. I just don’t put that much time into vacation photos.

    If I’m out in the field and need to do some processing, I’ll just process pictures on my laptop. 90% of the time, processing can wait until I get home anyway.

  14. PS on iPad doesn’t intrest me. Don’t get me wring I love my iPad. I shoot raw and frankly with the movies, music, apps and PDF books just nit enough space even in my 64gb iPad to hold and or shoot and store any amount of raw files then edit them for that matter. If you had time to be selective and copy a few over from you computer to play around with while traveling, maybe.

    I’d be much more interested in finally getting my hands on a iPad app for kelby training!!! Been waiting a year :(

  15. Hi Scott

    I’ll pay exactly $0. Why? Because the iPad is and will remain a tablet device not geared for heavy lifting.

    I understand that you want a slimmed version of Photoshop, but why would you want that in the first place? You can buy a MacBook Air, get the real thing and still be very mobile. i can’t for the life of me fathom why people are so obsessed with heavy image editing on the iPad. It will never have enough processing power or memory to be a viable alternative to edit on a real computer. You can’t color calibrate it either, so what’s the point?

    No, i’m sorry to disagree with you, Scott, but your idea is no good in my humble opinion.


    1. Thomas:
      Read my response to Sterling (addressed to Butch) above. People are doing heavy lifting with the iPad now. People are using Curves, Levels, Hue/Sat, using Unsharp Mask, and so on already on their iPads.


  16. The tablet is a great tool but I just don’t see it for heavy lifting. I bought mine for something that I could use to get away from work. Well that lasted about two days and now I’m looking for apps to help bridge the gap. Lightroom to me would be a better fit.

  17. Instead of getting a a watered down version from Adobe, with your industrial sized influence, why not talk to Apple and have them develop a MacBook Air with a touchscreen that flips to create a touch tablet. Now that I’d buy!

  18. I’ll pass. The macbook pro screen is barely passable for editing, I really don’t see the iPad as adequate. The real use for my laptop is photo storage until I’m home. If I would you use anything it would be a simple transfer program to a internet web site for raw photo storage.

  19. Those tools are pretty close for me. I’d need fewer. I presume we’d have a scaled down bridge interface of some sort. iPad shrinks photos a lot so size might be an issue for storage on a large shoot. A 700K file wouldn’t be useful for printing.
    I’d pay $200 as an upgrade as I already have the full CS5 Photo version.

  20. Scott,

    The idea of having a version of Photoshop on the iPad definitely gets me interested especially now as we’re seeing advances in wireless tethering, the imminent release of Photosmith and the news this week that Wacom have designed a pen for the iPad.

    It’s tempting to say/think that I wouldn’t do that much editing on it in the end but then I guess we have to look how technology is advancing and how we do things is changing so much, so I guess I’ll hold off on saying that for the tine being.

    Anyway regarding price…if it turned out how we’d want, and I found myself using it alot then I guess the $199 range would be about right.

    Certainly some very interesting times ahead me thinks :)

    1. Glyn,

      I missed the Wacom iPad pen announcement. I was just thinking it would be cool to have a touch sensitive pen for the iPad that would sort of make it a stripped down Cintiq. Thanks for the tip. Glad to see you’re finding time to keep up with things in spite of the move. ;-)

  21. I’d rather have sync-able Lightroom-lean on it than photoshop. just sayin’ – and when not in use as the primary, have it capable as a second screen automatically to the PC’s screen(s).

    Good thoughts though…

    1. I like the Lightroom (light) idea … especially if it would run presets created on the full featured version.

      I paid a LOT for an Epson P-7000 that, by today’s standards, has a very limited feature set. The thought of an iPad size backup and preliminary editing tool that would feed the “edited” images to my desktop Lightroom (master) system is an appealing one.

  22. I would like to see a version of Photoshop for the Android tablets. I have a android phone and plan on buying the tablet and think that would be awesome.

  23. Scott,

    I think we’re all discussing what will become the evolution of the tablet. I don’t have an iPad, don’t have an iPhone yet either, much to my dismay some days, so I’m not clear what’s possible on a tablet today. It seems there are already Apps which do most of what you want, but you want a familiar program to work in, that makes a lot of sense, although my iMac struggles some days with my 21mp files so wouldn’t a tablet just fizz, pop and live no more. I don’t think I’d do much editing on a tablet, I’d have a Macbook Pro or Air with me for that and I’d probably brought it with me on the shoot to show the client the shots so why have more stuff. The blurring of the distinction of a Tablet and Laptop is where I see the future and that’s where this software, you’re looking for, will help take us. If it happens why not have it open to add X amount of tools and filters so users could add what they think should be on the App but still not have full PS, maybe put it in packages. I’d go with the Scott Kelby package myself.
    But hey, I’m a photographer, if I had the disposable income to buy all the toys I would and I’d want to play all day with my iPhone & iPad and make them do amazing things, sometimes edit on a tablet and the next a Laptop, why, because I could and it’s cool.
    We need a new series of Star Trek to show us what we’ll be using in 10 years.

    Just my rambling thoughts.

  24. I don’t want Photoshop on the iPad. I only use Photoshop for 5% of my work. Give me Lightroom for the iPad instead! But we need Apple to open up the iPad a bit first. We need to be able to access external drives to make this work.

  25. Some thoughts:

    Unfortunately I think this is a case where you are letting your inner geek get the better of you.

    Are professionals really going to want Adobe to focus their limited resources on porting over a watered down version of a very powerful application to a tool that really isn’t designed for the task of pushing pixels? Or do you want them focused on improvements will make the full versions of the product more reliable and robust. If you had had to choose between Content Aware Fill and an iPad version of Photoshop, which would you have chosen?


    While the idea of running Photoshop or Lightroom on an iPad/Android Tablet might seem appealing, especially to a road warrior or someone on a remote location, I think it adds just another logistical nightmare when you think of managing collections and versioning. It is difficult enough to keep it straight on a main computer, across a RAID, with backups, then sync it on a laptop, external drives, etc., and now you want to throw a third device into the mix…

    There isn’t any external storage for iPad, that I know of and you have to either tether the iPad to iTunes or go wirelessly to get photos into it. Are you really going to want to have to upload 40MB files wireless to a 32GB device that wasn’t design for that task.

    Color Management:

    As far as I am aware of, there is no way do profile and do color management on an iPad, so are commercial photographers who need exact color recreation going to go for this?

    Not to be too much of a naysayer, I think that Adobe has gotten their extension to the iPad just right so far. The ability to use it as a User Interface which allows you to select and change tool settings is really a great direction and improve the usability of Photoshop over keyboard and mouse.

    I’d like to see them develop a way of porting the editing space over to the tablet, so that you could do Cintig like editing while still have your processing and rendering handled by the main computer. As I said in a reply to Sterling’s reply Wacom is way overpriced and could use some serious competition to get them to innovate and try to bring down their prices.

    1. A few more thoughts came to mind.

      A few years ago we were all clamoring for Dual Monitor support in Lightroom. And not just any monitors, Big Apple Cinema Display type monitors with tones of screen real estate.

      Then we clamored for efficient tethered shooting so we could check for things like critical focus, color correctness, etc. on a larger, Color Managed screen.

      Now we want to throw all of that hard earned screen real estate away and work on an iPad… Really? I find that my 17″ laptop screen is often too small for my aging eyes. Yes the portability and whiz bang aspect of the iPad is a plus, but I never think you can have enough when it comes to display size.

      I will say that Glyn Dewis and Jonathan Thompson have a point that at some future state where Tablets have replaced laptops and are as powerful as today’s Workstations, but we aren’t there yet, and hardware makers may not be looking in that direction either.

  26. I’d rather see a Lightroom app LOL :)! I like your list of functions, but I’d rather have a Camera Raw/Lightroom App so I could pick out my favorites on the car/plane ride home, make a few adjustments then do the retouching in PS. But as for the PS for iPad app, if they made it I’d pay $100-$150, I’d use it just not as much as a Lightroom/ACR app.

    Great food for thought, Scott!
    (That was an unfortunate rhyme.)


  27. Hello,

    I don’t think you would want to limit the applications by only the features you mentioned, because there will always have users that want something else and won’t buy the app because of it.

    I think you are probably better off with a limited platform or framework (think of it as an Eclipse framework, but lighter footprint). The idea is that the platform only allows you to configure it with certain number of tools, adjustments, filters, etc. And each user can customize it individually.

    Cool, features would be to customize the features with Photoshop or some adobe website.

    I don’t use Photoshop, I have Lightroom and Elements. I would really like an app that I could upload my photos to from the card, rank, flag, tag, etc. And sync later with the full Lightroom app.


  28. Are you sure you want Photoshop and not Photoshop Elements? As they say, Elements does 90% of what big brother does at a fraction of the cost. I wouldn’t pay more than what PSE runs for; $49-$79 range.

  29. This is a very interesting topic. I don’t own an iPad. However, I can see where the uses of having photoshop for iPad could be useful. Because of the lack of horsepower in the iPad- I would be concerned about final image quality. Also, what images would you be editing? Ones from your iPad/ iPhone? Or would you be tethered from your Canon 5DmkII or Nikon D3x? Those have very large files even if you only shoot in JPEG. However, some useful things would be if you can post your images to facebook, flickr, etc. straight from the app. (like Lightroom) that could be cool. Also, if it has the “Actions” panel as you suggest. You could have the ability to download actions to the iPad version of PS from the Desktop version of PS. Then you could run those in your iPad app. to make things even faster. I don’t know- I don’t have an iPad. But if I did those would be my thoughts.

    1. Ohh yeah, another thought. It would come free with the full version of PS or any of the Creative Suites. Most likely CS6 or some such thing. But as a stand alone I would say it would have to be in the $99-$199 range.

  30. I would prefer to just have Lightroom on the iPad with some really good clone features. If they cannot put that into Lightroom, then how about two apps. Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop Clone – a simple photo editing tool will really good cloning features.

  31. I agree with others. I really want Lightroom for my iPad. The workflow that would be highly productive on a vacation would be to upload raw photos via the camera connection kit. Then I can prune down the set, rate, flag etc. I’d then like it to wifi sync to my iMac’s lightroom catalog when I get back rather than import into iPhoto/iTunes. The basic LR 3 develop module plus the sharpening and noise reduction would be 90% of what I’d need. Gradient, local adjustments etc. would be nice. And presets so that things could easily be applied to a ton of photos at once. That would allow me to come back from a trip with most of my photos already processed and ready to share. Plus during the trip I could show everyone else the best photos of the day.

  32. Scott, in a related question for you or anyone out there. I noticed there is an app on the android market for a light meter. It is $3. Do you know how well it works? Thanks!!

  33. ACR + Tethered Shooting + Playing Nice with later imports into Lightroom.

    I’d happily drop $100 bucks for that, if it did it well. Heck, if such an app existed I’d -go buy an iPad-.

    (Especially the playing nicely with later importing everything into lightroom bit.)

    PS, even a stripped down version, is more than I want or need on a tablet while not providing the things that I want while mobile – tethered shooting and ease of later data digestion.

  34. After looking over everything and thinking about it, considering that the iPad app would have about 1/7th the functionality of the desktop application, I wouldn’t pay any more than 1/7th the price… so (b) – $99 would be the highest I would want to pay. (maybe $59 with student discount?)

    I really like a ‘photoshop for photogs for the iPad’ idea…

  35. There is a reason tablets and smartphone apps are designed to have a simpler user experience than their desktop counter parts. Computing power aside, the form factor and inputs of a device (e.g. desktop, notebook, netbook, tablet, smartphone) define what types of tasks are most efficient on that particular device. The iPad can definitely let you accomplish many different tasks, but is it always the best tool for every job?

    Would you enjoy doing heavy photo editing on a 10″ (or less) device using just your fingers when you are used to using a mouse/keyboard/stylus and a 20″ + screen? Any way you cut it the experience just won’t be the same. Now I’m not saying it would be useless to have Photoshop running on a tablet. You could certainly do some actual productive work by using a stylus.

    The full power of Photoshop on a tablet might seem like a great idea, but I’d be curious to see how many people would actually end up using the “power” features on a tablet form factor? Or would they just get frustrated and end up going back to doing the true Photoshop editing on a notebook or desktop? Time will tell as these devices mature, but for now I do see the point of having a full version of Photoshop on an iPad.

  36. I don’t know – isn’t this even a stripped down Photoshop Elements?
    First, Apple need to increase the memory to 256Gig or more so you can actually use the iPad to hold a backup of your images from a longer trip and also hold any derivatives you make in the retouching process. Then an iPad photoshop would make sense, (especially in combo with an iPad Lightroom).

    As for price, I’d be willing to pay $199 (for the Photoshop-Lightroom combo) if it truly meant I could leave my laptop behind when travelling. I only drag my laptop around now to process images on the road as I can do e-mail, website maintenance and everything else on my iPad.

    I’ve got a host of other photo editing apps on my iPad and while I use some more than others, I always end up reworking the images on my laptop or desktop in Lightroom-Photoshop to get what I really want.

    Great List!

  37. I am with the Lightroom for iPad crowd. Photoshop would be cool but but I think I would want adobe to put their efforts into a Lightroom app first. Since my work flow is Shoot – Lightroom – Photoshop creating a Photoshop app before a Lightroom app doesn’t make much sense to me.

  38. How about this
    With an IPad app like GoToMyPC from Citrix you could have what is a colour Wacom pad where all work is done acrually on your main app & your interface is your IPAD anywhere in the world?

  39. Scott,

    I think the Idea of a slimmed down version of CS5 on the ipad is a great and everything you listed seems pretty sufficient, but the price… hell itself would have to freeze over before I paid anymore than $20 for an app like that!! I agree that Adobe is the leader in the industry with Photoshop software but most people I talk to are seriously offended by the price it costs just for your PC, $700 new $200 for the upgrade?? Adobe is very proud of themselves but how bout giving everyone a break on their wallets already!!

  40. Scott-

    Very interesting! I think you’re heading in the right direction because future iPADs (and other computers) are just going to increase in power and storage. Actually, I found myself thinking this sort of sounds like “Elements” without the interface organization differences. Hmmm…I think I’d pay $49 for that without too much thought.

  41. I really wish that there was a way to get Adobe for the cheap, but we have all had to fork over the big bucks, and you are right in assuming that they will not make it available for nothing!

  42. How about giving some thought to the workflow first. Importing images to the iPad from my experience so far using the camera kit from apple is limited due to power reduction in latest os updates. Terry White said some card readers will work, however to this date I have not found one (maybe a supplemental tutorial about this issue on dtown is needed). The only effective means to import is cabling/tethering up to camera and importing. Which is fine as long as you don’t mind being out in the open with your gear. Importing and recognizing raw is very important. Terry recommended Filterstorm and now Filterstorm Pro has been released. I like it alot, very lightroom friendly. Hopefully iPad photoshop will be as good, affordable. and productive as this productive.

    1. Importing images really needs to be improved. On top of that.. how about some Albums organization. Edit albums on the iPad, delete albums, rename, move photos between albums. More than just a “Imported Photos” folder for photos.

  43. Scott:

    Apple’s App model has really changed the way people think about application pricing. Users want single function apps, and given what you can do with Pohotogene and others, Adobe really can’y go beyond $29 – but @ $29, Above could take Photoshop from a niche product intosomeothing mainstream users would “have to have”, and could sell hundreds of thousands of copies a year – maybe even a million units per year. I do not think a $29 version would alienate the core users because it would have much more limited functionality. But just as we all missed on the wild popularity of the iPad, if Adobe ships a $99 iPad app, they too are missing the market.

    Thanks for the great blog!


  44. I already have what you’re looking for – instead of an iPad I have an HP Slate.

    I run Photoshop and InDesign and Illustrator and Lightroom and just about anything else I can run on my desktop. And it has real stylus (n-trig… still wish it was wacom).

    My HP Slate isn’t perfect, but neither is the iPad. I tried making the iPad work for 3 months and there were just too many compromises.

    For me (maybe not everone) the Slate is much *much* closer to perfect. It runs all my programs today, so I don’t have to re-pay.

  45. I think it would be cool, if Wacom and apple got together and create a pen that can be used on the iPad. I would not want to do editing with my finger. (If they all ready have one dont listen to me) I would pay $50-$100 for the app, but I would like a 15-30 day trial to see if it is not shaky.

    1. Wacom has developed a new Bamboo Stylus for iPad. Not sure of the benefits, though. Check out their website.

      I have a Blackberry Playbook, and I would love to have some photoshop and lightroom goodness on it! … and a wacom stylus. :)

  46. Adobe has had many problems in the past with software piracy. I think that with the release of the iPad and it’s popularity, Adobe could count on people coughing up $49 for the app. If it is a good app and truly looks and feels like Photoshop, people (especially pros) would spend the $99 for it. However, Adobe can’t expect people to pay more for the app then they did for their iPad. I agree with the previous poster that without a mouse or wacom tablet to make our edits, some type of special pen would need to be available for purchase.

      1. Yeah, considering that I bought a years subscription to Kelbytraining on your black friday sale, because the app was “right around the corner”. The regular Kelbytraining is not so much for me (too little time), I could watch the movies on my iPhone on my way to work (on the bus). So please make it happen, ok?

  47. Good luck, Scott, because I think your list is still too long for Adobe to cram all that in and have it work quickly on an iPad, although it would certainly be nice. And I’d pay $49 to $99 if it really rocked, although I think the sweet spot would be closer to $49. That’s because, no matter what, the iPad isn’t going to be where you do much retouching work–it’s the kind of device you use when you’re on the go. So it would be hard for folks to cough up big bucks. Another approach, perhaps, would be for Adobe to sell the app at a reduced price in conjunction with each purchase of Photoshop or Lightroom, as an add on, for $19-$29. That way they’d be sure they weren’t cannibalizing their full version products.

  48. $199. And rather than PS, I’d like to see Lightroom. Especially the ability to shoot tethered via Bluetooth. I’d even be happy with RAW to one card, sm JPEG vie Bluetooth for preview. Without having to lug a laptop on set.

  49. I don’t think I’d ever really want to use Photoshop anywhere other than the full featured version on a laptop or desktop. That said, the thought of something more like Lightroom on an iPad would be awesome. Just having the Camera Raw functionality to do the bulk of editing and some way of tagging shots to make short selections, all working off a plugged in card would be all I’d really want. If it had the ability to export adjusted shots out as a PSD or jpeg onto the plugged in card, that’d be the cherry on the cake. I’d pay £29.99 for that, no problem.
    I’d bet money on Apple doing something similar with Aperture first though…..

  50. Good luck, Scott, because I think your list is still too long for Adobe to cram all that in and have it work quickly on an iPad, although it would certainly be nice. And I’d pay $49 to $99 if it really rocked, although I think the sweet spot would be closer to $49. That’s because, no matter what, the iPad isn’t going to be where you do much retouching work–it’s the kind of device you use when you’re on the go. So it would be hard for folks to cough up big bucks. Another approach, perhaps, would be for Adobe to sell the app at a reduced price in conjunction with each purchase of Photoshop or Lightroom, as an add on, for $19-$29. That way they’d be sure they weren’t cannibalizing their full version products.

  51. Ok Scott, here’s what I’d like to see in a future blog post: how a tablet fits into a photogrpahers workflow. After reading through all the discussion here, I can’t see it being a regular thing, but it has been stated that photographers out there now using other photo editing apps on the ipad. I’d like some insight on how this all fits into the workflow. i’m curious to see what I haven’t thought of yet.

    1. I’m with you, here, Brill.

      I’ve got an iPad2 for two weeks now, and I haven’t had a chance to use it in actual shoot rather than shooting tethered with my D700. Even that, I use my Macbook Pro more often to shoot tethered – so I haven’t use iPad that much – unless I’m missing something.

    2. My typical location iPad workflow for shooting sporting events on deadline for magazine/newsprint/web publication is … I shoot the event, download specific images from the CF card using the Camera Connection Kit USB Dongle and the Kodak 50-in-1 USB2 card reader (works wonderfully with the CCK despite being bus-powered) … maybe up to a dozen images total … then I select from that set 2-3 action shots, 1-2 feature shots along with any award/recognition shots that may have presented themselves at the event … then I open the images in Filterstorm Pro … crop, adjust WB, tone, color balance as needed … fill in caption, headline, keyword and any other IPTC meta data as the specific publication may require then send the finished images via FTP to the appropriate server …

      Very easy-peasy when working with a small volume of images … and much less cumbersome than carrying a full laptop … If I need to work with a larger volume of images … the Macbook Pro makes the trip …

      A location iPad workflow isn’t ideal for every photographer, every genre or every situation we encounter … but the iPad has proven in a very short period of time it can be much more than a glorified toy …

      Don’t get me started on how I use the iPad in the studio as a combination presentation device/contract sales form platform/CC swiper, extension monitor when shooting tethered to the MBP, etc., etc., etc.

      In less than a year, my iPad has paid for itself many times over as a real solid business tool … and … the fact I can catch a movie on Netflix while cooling my heels at the airport, waiting room, press room during idle time, etc. … is just a welcome bonus …

      1. Thanks to the iPad, soon we’ll be able to get rid of our calibrated monitors, expensive powerful computers and costly software to sell our work. Thanks Apple.

  52. Scott, I think you are spot on. Additionally, I know there are some inherent restrictions placed by Apple, but tethering would be on the top of the list for me. If the app did your key elements and including tethering, I think up to $99 would work for me.

  53. How about Lightroom for iPad instead? With the ability to shoot tethered, like you can with Lightroom. Wouldn’t that take care of most everyone’s needs for a mobile platform like this? And when you hook it up to iTunes on your computer, it automatically imports them into a Lightroom catalog with all your edits preserved.

  54. What I’d like to see in a iPad app is a Playbook App! Preferably a lightroom one. Something to do a quick run through of my pics on a trip or out in the field. I’d pay in the $50 range for something like that.

  55. I’m with you – I think dramatically decreasing the amount of tools and features would be absolutely fine and I think your list very accurately portrays all we would need. I would definitely be willing to pay $50 – $100 for something like this.

  56. I should have posted this as a main reply.

    I think $49 is a nice price point and will gather plenty sales. Before Photoshop or any other editing app, though, I’d like to see the way photos are dealt with on the iPad by default improved.

    Album editing would be a great start in that direction. The ability to import photos to specific, separate albums and to move photos between albums would be what I’m speaking of specifically. Right now, Photos for iPad sucks because of the extremely limited control over albums.

  57. I would rather have a Lightroom app for ipad than a photoshop app. I process 99% of my images with Lightroom and would find an app that has similar features would be welcome.
    I would like it to output to my website, iphone, computer and social media. Download processed images to my larger library on the hard disk. Should organize and send albums to the pictures app on the ipad.

  58. Photoshop for the iPad, Photoshop Express for the web, LR, PS5, extended, Elements ==> too much redundancy.
    Then what… Android then Kindle. The next killer app: one touch button that does it all automatically across all platforms, sends it to any of the above or email, and Mpix, Twitter, and Facebook friends. Soon it will be illegal to use any Photoshop variant while driving.

  59. I want to see Lightroom for the iPad (and some Nik software plugins to boot). Don’t really care about Photoshop except for the Unsharp mask. Not sure how much I’d be willing to pay to be honest considering I shoot RAW and if I’m in the field shooting RAW images I’m backing them up on a laptop with plenty of hard drive space and a USB slot to back up the images on an external drive. Lack of hard drive space, a small screen, and no USB slot to back up images to an external drive makes importing and editing photos on an iPad a liability.

  60. I agree with many of the posters here…I think the priority for Adobe should be to release a Lightroom App for iPad. Shooting tethered, importing, sorting and basic editing/camera raw capabilities are more suitable tasks for the iPad and could save me a lot of time if it could be done on an iPad without it bogging down and working too slow. Then I want to be able to sync the new catelog and edits to my desktop without a lot of hassle (this is the key piece). I still want to do my final PS retouching on my BIG screen. The iPad is more suited for solving workflow issues that I can do with sliders! Not saying I wouldn’t use use a PS app for iPad, I just think that a LR app needs to come first since it is also the first app most photogs use in their workflow before they jump into PS. Adobe will gain market share in the mobile app race quicker with a LR release first….once we are hooked on that, then release a PS app. I think the price point for a LR app is $29. Thanks for starting the conversation on this.

  61. Hi Scott

    Sorry, but I think your idea is no good. The iPad is a tablet devide not suitable for “serious” image editing. I can’t quote it all here, but I wrote a longer comment on why I think it’s a bad idea over on my blog. Check it out if you will :-)


  62. for anyone thinking that you shouldnt be able to “REALLY” edit photos on an ipad…. Are you still shooting film too? Dont think for a second that shooting RAW is far off from our mobile devices and that more and more things will be needing to be on the go.

    Steve Jobs still doesnt know what the iPad is for but you do? It is used for what you want it to be used for. And if you want to edit photos on it….. there should be an App for that :)

    1. Hi Bob

      You can actually connect a mouse to an iPad through BlueTooth. But suppose you are carrying around a keyboard and a mouse for your iPad so you can edit photos? Why don’t you just bring a laptop and get the full Photoshop package?

      No, Photoshop for iPad as proposed by Scott here is a dead fish in the water if you ask me.


      1. Ever hear of a stylus? Many PS users use a stylus with their Wacom tablets connected to their work stations today … or how about the Cintiq? … why not use one on a touch screen of the iPad?

        Sure, PS on the iPad would not be a full replacement for a good laptop … however … there are those of us who may work in the field and not need power editing on location … sometimes less is more … many of us only need to tweak WB, tone, saturation, a bit of a crop etc. (getting it right in camera as much as possible type of thing) … it seems the limits you see with PS on the iPad are the limits you are placing on yourself … not the limitations of the software/hardware … and you are ignoring the work already being accomplished with Filterstorm Pro and Photogene today …

        I guarantee you, if Adobe would offer an app with anywhere near the feature set Scott has proposed … and offer it for a reasonable price … it will sell well and be used quite extensively … and it wouldn’t even be close to a dead fish …

        I use the iPad to prepare files for transmission to local and regional publications on almost a daily basis … not having to drag around a laptop is a big bonus … certainly much more convenient with an iPad vs. a laptop to tweak, caption and FTP images right from the sideline/baseline … no dongles or WiFi hotspots or tethering options to set up … just send via 3G anywhere I can get cell service … all in the form factor of an iPad … it’s a no-brainer …

        It’s never good to paint with a broad brush when evaluating options …. there is no one-size-fits-all …

  63. Why pay over 500 US$, when I only use about 150 US$ of my CS3 and CS4 licenses. I know, PS X is for designers and photographers, now, we have another choise, Lightroom 3, which came out just a few months after 2. It seems, that placing some little changes to their products, Adobe will keep people updating and money coming in. Now, that is not a wrong business practice, but in a world economy where every penny counts, it sure places a burden on its clients. Furthermore, the hardware comes out lagging the software industry, so if you buy new gear you will be forced to buy upgrades that manage your CAMERA RAW needs. Todays cameras don’t last nearly as long as the old ones, hell I can still use my Nikon film camera and my 40D and its lenses (even L series) just don’t work. Why? turnover. The manufacturers move more hardware by programing their gear to 150.000 clicks or what have you, however their products just don’t cut the cheese.

    I am an extreme, out of the beaten path naturalist in the northern neotropics. I never could buy the top of the line camera bodies, but some of my best pictures of the jungles, high Andes and flooded plains of the Orinoco, the Rio Negro and the Amazon were taken with NIKON FMs (Full Muscle).

    So the I Pad is out and everyone must have one. The need has been created, who needs it!
    The Mac Book Air 13″ with the biggest storage you can get beats the hell out of the IPAD, yes its more expensive, but you get portability, power, endurance to the elements and what have you. If not go for a small PC, they will cost as much as the IPAD but they will outlive it in durability.

    Take care.

    Leopoldo García-Berrizbeitia
    Venezuela (where 1 US$ is worth 10.000 of our BFs)

  64. Hi All,

    I just heard about an app for the iPad (I don’t have one yet, here in Dubai) called Photosmith. (not sure if I can post the URL here or not…but here goes)

    I haven’t tested this out (as I don’t have an iPad), but from what the creators, say, this app ties into Lightroom and does a bunch of stuff like allowing you entering metadata for your images, creating collections, etc and then when you get back to your regular machine, sync with the existing Lightroom. Apparently, you can even download your images to the iPad and then sync that too with Lightroom.

    Like I said, I don’t know much about this app, but seemed pretty interesting….and thought I’d give you folks a ‘heads up’ on this. Look forward to what these apps can do in the future.



  65. I’ve been using Filterstorm for a few months now. It may not be the full range of Photoshop functions but it’s not bad. It has RAW support, some of the more important editing options, and some other handy features as well.

  66. Yes! i agree the certain things has to look out. Whether it meets the requirements of the users and the must read the reviews. By considering all this, The app should be downloaded. My close friend has need the wedding app for her wedding assistant. She has read the reviews and considering the things. Finally chosen a app for her wedding.

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