Is Adobe Photoshop for iPad worth the money and hype?

Apple has been pushing their iPad (especially the iPad Pro) as an alternative to traditional laptops and even desktops for a while. With the release of iPadOS, Apple has perhaps made the biggest push to give the iPad capabilities similar to what you’d find in a laptop.

While iPadOS is pretty awesome and offers most Among the promises towards making it your only computer, we still need software developers to upgrade and deliver apps that give us the same kind of features as their counterparts. their desktop.

For example, LumaFusion is an iOS app that provides similar functionality to a desktop video editor. You can absolutely use it as your only video editor. This is not a “portable” or “compact” approach to creating apps for tablets.

This is why everyone in the photo editing community has been eagerly waiting for the desktop version of Adobe Photoshop to arrive on iOS, ever since it was first announced at the company’s conference. Adobe about a year ago. Here it is now, and you may be wondering if this iPad version of Photoshop is worth it. Let’s take a look at the highlights.


When we ask “is something worth it?” it usually means “is it worth the money?”. That gets complicated when it comes to Photoshop for iPad because Adobe has long since abandoned the one-off model of selling software.

The only the way to get Photoshop is to subscribe to their Creative Cloud service. The cheapest version, which includes Photoshop and Lightroom, will run you $10 a month. However, it is a annual contract. This means you’re getting $120 per year if you choose to pay monthly. Early cancellation is possible, but comes with penalty conditions.

Piggy bank

So Photoshop for iPad is a best-selling standalone iOS app. However, if you signed up for a Creative Cloud plan that includes the desktop version of Photoshop, you already have the app. Just download and login.

See why this is complicated? It’s an expensive app in itself, but it’s basically a free add-on if you’re already a Photoshop user. If you are not already a Photoshop user, you are not really the target of this application. So we’ll look at it from the angle we expect most users to have.

The promise of “full” Photoshop for iPad

What does it mean for Adobe to bring “full” desktop Photoshop to the iPad? Well, by no means is there feature parity between the two versions. Version 1.0 of Photoshop for iOS lacks many of the features found in the desktop version. Those will come in time – but for now it doesn’t appear that Adobe offers an alternative to Photoshop on the desktop.

So what makes it comparable to the desktop version? The important fact here is that this uses the same code as the desktop version. At its core, Photoshop for iPad is the same app. This raises hopes that Adobe could, with relative ease, add more features to the parent app. Something that they have already started doing.

Focus on “Casual” quests

Adobe seems to be focusing on Photoshop’s most popular processes and functions. Especially the ones that users are most likely to need in the mobile landscape.

If you’re an existing user of Photoshop on the desktop, then you should check that the tools you need for your current workflow are already in the app.

Features missing in operation

A painter paints watercolors

By the time you read this, Adobe may have fixed some pressing features missing in their apps, but at the time of writing, there’s a sizable list of things that desktop users might miss out on. missed in the tablet version of Photoshop.

Relatively advanced features, such as animations, are not available in the iPad version of Photoshop. Likewise, there doesn’t seem to be support for editing RAW images. This is a real shame because modern USB-C iPads make it difficult to directly transfer photos from the camera to the tablet on the go.

You also won’t find advanced selection tools, custom brushes, or other Photoshop-specific features on the desktop here. At least not yet. This is a rudimentary implementation of Photoshop, and only time will tell how close Adobe will push the iOS version of Photoshop to its desktop.

Procreate & Affinity Photo: A Better Alternative?

Create apps on iPad

The big problem with Photoshop for iPad is that other developers have been developing their iOS photo editing apps for years. They may have had a mobile-first approach and don’t have the impressive code and technology behind Photoshop, but they’ve targeted the void left by Adobe.

Procreate has become the gold standard for drawing on iOS. Adobe has now released Fresco as well, but we have to compare it to the drawing functionality in Photoshop because that’s a big part of the appeal.

Affinity Photo has worked as the answer to Photoshop’s gap on iPad. It bills itself as a “desktop-grade” photo editing app for the iPad, and with general user feedback, it certainly does the job.

However, in both cases, these applications have a distinct advantage over Photoshop, simply because they are so much more affordable. While Photoshop will cost you at least $120 a year if paid monthly, both Procreate and Affinity are one-time purchases. They’re also not terribly expensive, which makes Photoshop quite a hard sell.

Key point

So, at the time of writing, we can make a few recommendations about Photoshop for iPad. If you’re not currently signed up for Adobe Creative Cloud and want to do desktop-level photo editing on your iPad, you’re better off buying an established app like Affinity Photo.

Hobby Photo App

On the other hand, if you already have an Adobe CC subscription that includes Photoshop, you’ll get the iPad version at no extra cost. In that case, you may find that cloud-based file sharing between your desktop and tablet can be a real boon. You can do the basic prep work on your photos quickly, then sit down to do the advanced stuff, saving you a lot of time.

If you’re someone who has replaced their laptop or desktop with an iPad, Photoshop for iPad isn’t ready to be your only photo editor yet. Again, you should use established iPad-preferred apps.

With more features and perhaps a one-time app purchase option on iOS, that recommendation could change. For now, it’s better to wait and see.

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