Adobe Photoshop Touch: the most powerful image editor on Android [App Reviews]

November 15, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka

Android App Reviews, Lifestyle, Multimedia, Productivity, Reviews


Evaluated version: 1.0

Pros: Powerful photo editing and social features, exports to Adobe desktop products

Cons: Touch controls aren't always accurate, 1600x1600 max image, exports only to CS5

The title says it all. There is no photo or image editing app on Android that can match what Adobe has done with Photoshop Touch, the mobile version of its popular desktop graphics editing program.

Photoshop Touch is not as robust as the desktop version for obvious reasons. The smaller screen size and lower hardware capabilities prevent a true feature-for-feature porting, but there’s plenty to work with in Touch. That’s easy to see when looking to the left where users have access to the Magic Wand and other selection tools, clone stamp, paint, blur, and eraser. Layer controls are on the right, and the top bar hosts secondary functions, Adjustments, Effects, Text, Gradient, Stroke, Crop, and more.

The core Photoshop functions are available in Touch, and a decent set of tutorials help users adjust to the transition. Users can learn things like how to swap colors, change blending, remove objects, and paint with effects. The tutorials provide step by step guidance with clues to produce the desired effect. For instance, you can spice up that old photo of your father on the family farm by painting with saturation. Or you can follow another tutorial and turn a modern photo into an antique one using adjustable effects. The guides are designed to get users acclimate to the touch interface and learn the concepts of how to manipulate images. As someone who has learned and forgotten the basics of Photoshop on multiple occasions for the past 14 years, I’d say they actually do a commendable job making it easy to change photos.

However, as exciting as it is to have PhotoShop on the go, Touch is not always as practical. For instance, using the Lasso and Brush tools were challenging because the thumbs are not always accurate when trying to be selective. The Scribble Selection feature tries to help with extraction, but it’s not always as amazing as demo videos would have you believe. (When it does work, it is nothing short of awesome, though.) It took several attempts before I finally felt decent using the lasso on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. I can’t say this definitively, but I’d imagine that a capacitive pen or a device that supports pen input would provide smoother and crisper results.

Adobe wants to make PhotoShop Touch a powerful editing tool on the go, but it’s more than just combining images and tweaking photo settings. In addition to importing photos directly from Picasa or Google Image search in order to edit them, users can also connect the app to Facebook or Google for easy sharing. Facebook comments are displayed within the app.

Even more compelling is Adobe Creative Cloud enables continuity between the desktop and the mobile apps. I can begin editing an image on a Galaxy Tab 10.1 while on the couch or at a coffee shop, then have that file sync to PhotoShop or Illustrator for additional work on the desktop. This will be a killer feature for people looking to create concept art or mess around with Photoshop Touch and then move on to a bigger workspace.

Photoshop Touch is simple enough for laymen and beginners to get a kick out of editing photos, but powerful enough for creative professionals to find useful. An Android 3.1 or higher device is required, so download to your tablet to expand your creative mind.