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Photoshop for iPad Is a Disaster

Photoshop for the iPad was touted as Adobe’s most important mobile application, with iPad owners very keen to use the image editing software. However, the app is lacking some key features, seems to have a horrific lag when using certain tools, and is now attracting shockingly bad reviews on the App Store. What happened?

Chat about the app started almost a year ago with enthusiasts excited to see what Adobe would bring to the iPad. Expectations were incredibly high, which in part explains the harsh disappointment that users are experiencing and the consequent backlash. Other apps such as Affinity and Procreate had set the bar pretty high, and Adobe was expected to deliver something that compared to desktop software that has been industry standard since its earliest iterations. Photoshop for iPad currently scores a meager 2.1 stars out of 5, with the vast majority of users giving it just one star.

Adobe’s Chief Product Officer Scott Belsky offered a small explanation, suggesting that Adobe didn’t manage expectations properly, and stating in a tweet that “you must ship and get fellow passionate travelers on board.” Others would argue that if a product isn’t ready, it shouldn’t go to market, and that the goodwill of users and “fellow passionate travelers” can be achieved by involving users more closely in the beta testing process.

Many on Twitter have not been kind:

The backlash has been compounded by Adobe’s subscription model, which many find frustrating, preferring to go with the one-off purchases offered by the likes of Affinity. Affinity Photo has proven to be incredibly popular since its launch, and photographers are keen to see if Serif, the company behind a number of Adobe alternatives, is also planning something that would compete with Lightroom. Serif has already demonstrated its belief that switching between design apps should be a fluid and intuitive experience, and I’m personally hoping that a Lightroom alternative would not only present a one-off fee alternative, but also one that outstrips the Lightroom/Photoshop combination by way of features.

Adobe has been dogged by missteps in recent years, with Fstoppers’ own Mel Martin bemoaning the bloated, unashamed upselling that dominates Adobe’s Creative Cloud app. Other Adobe tactics are generating ill will towards the company, as noted by photographer and podcaster Steve Brazill, who recently tweeted his annoyance with the app’s tendency to be somewhat misleading:

Have you downloaded Photoshop? What's your experience? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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43 Comments

Eric Salas's picture

As someone who wasn’t allowed to speak about it until release; I’m glad an article has been written about how terrible it actually is.

They promised one thing last year and I’m not sure what the f*ck happened after that promise.

Jerome Brill's picture

Adobe - Here's photoshop for iPad.

Everyone else -

Eric Salas's picture

You don’t want it, trust me

Studio 403's picture

Yep, a real loser for the first launch. I deleted it on my Ipad. I am a fanboy of Adobe. Big Corporation seems at times to go off the rails. Wisdom seems to suggest wait at least 3 months adobe at least to release. What I deemed disaster was Apple called it " App of the day" , bad PR Apple. shows how much Apple was investeed in Adobe to market the new Ipad this year. BOMBS AWAY.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

I’ve become so sick of all of Adobe’s bullshit, that this just makes me smile, smile because I switched to Capture One Pro 12 and Affinity Photo (macOS and iPad OS), and that is the best decision I ever made!!!

Dan Donovan's picture

I've been on Capture One since Apple pulled the plug on Aperture. Any big issues with the Affinity software? I definitely need to take another look at it!

Studio 403's picture

I have the free version of Capture one for Fujifilm. Very nice. My learning curve is pathetic. Maybe in 2028 I might get it. Lol, not capture one fault, just me

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Hi Dan,

After a good discussion with Nick Page on his attempt to switch to C1P and Affinity, one thing that might be a sticking point for photographers is lack of third-party plug-in support for AP and C1P, and also lack of support for hardware controllers, such as those for Lightroom.

For me personally, these aren’t issues, as I rare use plug-ins or hardware controllers. Instead, for me, a BIG issue with C1P is lack of in-app processing for pano stitching, HDR blending and focus stacking support. Having to do those manually in AP is quite annoying for me.

In Affinity Photo, a big one for me is how they handle creating HDR composites, pano’s, and focus stacking images. Those workflows are cumbersome to say the least when compared against Lightroom and Photoshop; I have to give Adobe the crown there.

However, when it comes to the rest of C1P and AP, they blow Lightroom and Photoshop out of the water! Workflows are more intuitive, app speeds are WAY faster, and with C1P, the RAW engine generates far superior detail from images that ACR does...

I’ve already submitted feature requests to Serif for them to revamp Affinity Photo workflows for the above mentioned deficiencies, and rumour has it that Capture One Pro 20 (their next release) will incorporate HDR, Pano and Focus Stacking workflows natively. If that’s true, the ultimate package is complete.

Ivan Lantsov's picture

Affinity ! yes

Deleted Account's picture

Call me old fashioned but have a laptop to edit stuff when I’m not in the office. I don’t see the need or reason to try do that on an iPad.

William Faucher's picture

I like the portability of the tablet, whip it out of my bag and start painting immediately. No need to find a small desk and set up the wacom. It's quick and efficient. And the display is fantastic. Don't get me wrong, I much prefer a workstation for bigger, more serious work, but on a long commute, the ipad is perfect for editing and digital painting on the fly.

Sure, it's not for everyone, but there's a large user base out there who would love a solid tablet release.

Deleted Account's picture

So you're been doing this already, without Photosoup for iOS.
Me too, quick selection transferred to iPad with Photosync and then snapseed for a quick JPG tweak and send.
I sure as heck wouldn't want to start montage work and proper editing on an iPad. MacBook Air or MacBook is no effort to fire up and use.

William Faucher's picture

I use Procreate, but would rather have access to photoshops toolset. It's all about personal preference. If what you do works for you, great! But different people prefer different things and setups. Not everyone is just editing simple photographs, Photoshop is more than just about photography. Digital art, vfx, cgi, it's a whole other world.

Sure, I can do what needs doing as is, that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. If I'm commuting on a train, for example, as I do every day, a laptop is a bit of a pain if I need to use the wacom.

I just want a proper photoshop on a tablet. And microsofts offerings just feel sub-par. Wacoms mobile studio pro is an alternative, but way too expensive. So much compromising, and no ideal system. Functional PS for iOS would solve a lot of issues.

stuartcarver's picture

This, Snapseed is a fantastic little app for those quick edits.

Studio 403's picture

Lol I agree, I would suggest its about added revenue for Adobe, like automobiles, this is a lemon. In the next 3 yrs a lot of pressure will come to lower cost of Photoshop. Look at the falling profits of camera makers. The dam is giving way. What is called “disruptive technology” is coming to photographers and Camera makers. The bottom feeders are rising. I need to carve out my brand and separate myself from the herd.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

This is why I switched to Capture One Pro and Affinity Photo for my workflow. Although C1P has no iOS app, Affinity Photo on iPad OS truly shares the desktop codebase and ALL functions on macOS and Windows.

It’s amazing to be able to plug my camera directly into my iPad Pro, drop my images into AP, and using Apple Pencil, have ALL the same desktop functionality to edit my work on-the-go.

When I get back to the office, I just download my images into my C1P collection and call it a day.

You should give it a shot :)

Mathias Elmeskog's picture

I was really exited and then very disappointed. I can not even do basic things with it. At the moment I am more interested in a seamless experience using Sidecar in Catalina with my iPad. That sort of works but I would be so happy if they focused on developing that working properly and maybe with some smart functions.

Bjarne Solvik's picture

Always with Adobe people are complaining. I found the iPad app easy to understand even not so much options yet. Looking forward to them adding over time :)

Kile Edward's picture

Photoshop slows most entry to mid-range computers down, this is a known issue as it is resource intensive. The iPad has very limited resources in comparison to an average computer so of course condensing Photoshop down to something that a tablet can run is going to have some serious issues. I could foresee this from the start, maybe it's time that we start to manage our own expectations realistically. Thats just my 2 cents

Michael Del Rossi's picture

Have you used a recent iPad with an image editing app?

I used a 10.5 iPad Pro on a 125MB tiff file with layers and Affinity Photo, pretty smooth and quick. In some places faster than my iMac 2015 i7.

So it really depends on how the software is written for the hardware.

Tried photoshop for iPad and couldn’t get a raw file imported. Yet Affinity Photo, with A LOT less resources (as a company) imports raw quite easily.

Btw , been using and buying photoshop since ver2. Kinda pissed at adobe by now, and can’t wait till a proper DAM software comes out so I can kick adobe to the curb.
Lightroom still seems to be top of the heap, with the ability to sync photos across iPad and desktop.

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

I only use the desktop version, but Affinity Photo for iPad reviews very well, based on what I've seen. I'm definitely a huge fan of Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher on the desktop. Some of the folks who need to edit on a tablet might want to give Affinity Photo a try.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I heard a lot of good things about Affinity and I think I will give it a try sometime next year.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Downloading Affinity photo now. I did have a the Beta version a few years ago, but it was too early and I dumped it.

stuartcarver's picture

Compared to the desktop version, its crap imo, far too clunky and having everything based on symbols makes finding the right tool really hard.

Christian Santiago's picture

Companies need to ditch this horrible, unethical practice of using their paying customers as beta testers. Don't release shit until it's ready!

Stefan Radtke's picture

Downloaded it and deleted it. It’s completely unusable for a professional photographer. Way too many functions are missing, that I use on my desktop on a day to day basis. I am surprised Adobe released a toy version of PS after all this time, when other companies already have full fledged clones, like affinity photos, on the market. Adobe’s excuse seems a little bit weak for this 0.1 version. To me it looks like they are just not committed to professional mobile applications. And in a way I don’t blame them for it. As much as Apple is trying to tell us, even with the new iPadOS, the iPad isn’t a replacement for professional post production desktops ... yet.

stuartcarver's picture

I had a recent work trip to Belfast where i made the stupid assumption that Affinity on the ipad pro would be good for editing some street shots, i spent about 20 mins on the first one and decided leaving my laptop at home was stupid.

As some others have said, just carry your laptop with you and edit on the proper software.

Matthew White's picture

I’m surprised Belsky didn’t tweet, “Just get it right in camera.”

LA M's picture

It may not be what you want/expect (ed)

But it's adequate for a first try.

I tried it out on my iPad Pro and I think for basic needs it does the job. I corrected/retouched a portrait image for blemishes, lint, stray hairs etc. Sometimes all you need is the basics when you're on the go.

I agree though...Adobe forgot the number one principle in this whole thing...under-promise and over-deliver.

Deleted Account's picture

Not just photographers that are unhappy with it, digital artists are also in the mix. Even on the latest iPad Pro, a blank canvas the size of a D850 image has incredible lag with the brushes and on older iPad Pros, the lag makes it totally unusable. This is an Adobe issue, other companies have managed very well with figuring this out.

LA M's picture

Yes I forgot to mention that...runs crappy on two older iPads in the house...perfectly fine on the new iPad pro.

Procreate is far better for digital artists...zero lag and incredibly good tools...and layers!

Blake Sauner's picture

I had it installed for 12 mins on my ipad. 10 of those mins spent realizing you can’t even rotate a canvas. LOL. It’s as bad as it’s worst and most scathing review at this point.

Here’s the other thing. THANKFULLY, as of right now “if you subscribe and have photoshop, you have it on ipad.”
Great! Until Feb 1st 2020. If you’re a new subscriber to their photography plan, you can’t get PS on iPad on the $10/m0 20GB plan, has to be the one’s including the 1TB storage...so, that’s the $20/mo plan. So effectively between this trash-ass release and Feb 2020 they think they’re going to update it and make it worth it’s $10/mo ask?

Uh. No. I highly doubt that if we’re rotating our devices to rotate a canvas at this point. And the UI is just gross, if you aren’t mirroring PS for desktops tool locations and icons, what the hell are you even DOING, Adobe?

Affinity’s offerings and Procreate eat this thing alive and will for a long time if this is Adobe’s hand played right now.

I like LR on the iPad, I can get a lot done away from the desktop. I cannot do jack shit with PS for iPad.

Tried Fresco for 5 mins until it was “Give me $10 a month for laggy brushes and even less tools than Procreate offers.”

Adobe has me locked in for PS and LR, but until this Half Assed PS can support actions (why wouldn’t it? Pixelmator photo basically does) it’s not getting reinstalled on my iPad....*gag*

Charles Gaudreault's picture

The only thing I like is that I can set up an image with the FS layers on my pc save it to the cloud and go work on my iPad in the kitchen so I can hang with my fam and still play around on my photos and not be a basement rat where my normal setup is! that's about it :P

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

I actually didn’t bother since the prices for it are too high and always have been. Ridiculous high, not justifiable for such a big company but whatever.
I saw people mentioned Affinity somewhere online and went ahead and got that for one time fee of $10! Gotta get used to it but it seems like it’s gonna get all the thing done that I need.
Didn’t expect this loud fart at a CEO meeting from Adobe.

L S's picture

The idea of pull PC software on a clunky ipad was terrible. Microsoft nailed the use case with surface, which included a real desktop OS on a portable form factor that leaves nothing behind when firing up the full suite of adobe apps, or any app for that matter. iOS is just a toy for email and browsing lacking even basic pointing mechanisms essential for professional apps, leaving you to use the clunky stylus that is only suitable for very specific tasks. The adobe apps have been crafted and refined for decades to fit the needs of mouse and keyboard users using a full OS. Merely slapping one in iOS with the limited functionality of said OS was going to backfire, and it did as it sets the wrong expectations. Say nothing of the ipad being challenged to run said software due to its laughable specifications 4GB of RAM? LOL, my first laptop had that over a decade ago.

But then again that is apple at its finest. too much hubris. They had to eat crow and finally slap a keyboard on the ipad after years of telling everybody that it wasn't required, and watch it: trackpad keyboard coming soon because they will equally be proven wrong again.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Wow, we found ourselves a true Microsoft fanboy, spouting the same BS that's been spouted about Apple for 40 years...

John Sammonds's picture

As its cloud based it will result in using space and ending up paying for expensive hard drive space on Adobe servers, I don't like the cloud and so I have deleted the app from my iPad, sorry Adobe keep your cloud.

Anthony Cayetano's picture

What are you people talking about??? My composites on PS for iPad looks realistic, colour-matched, and superior to me...

stuartcarver's picture

hahaha

Edison Wrzosek's picture

ROTFL!!!!!!

Anthony Cayetano's picture

Personally, as a Affinity Photo for iPad user, I would not mind sending monies to Serif from time to time to support their amazing developers.

stuartcarver's picture

I love the desktop version, also love James Ritsons youtube guides... but i cant get away with the ipad version, i need a full computer.

Alvin Toro's picture

“You must ship and get passionate fellow travelers on board...” Right. Just make sure the ship 🚢 actually floats before it goes in the water. They raked in over 9 billion of our hard earned dollars in revenue last year and this half baked Mickey Mouse “App” that barely qualifies as a proof of concept is all they could deliver? They had one job and they failed miserably. I wonder if they realize how many people they pushed straight into the competition just by virtue of the amount of comparison in the App Store’s comment section and other articles like this one.