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Touch is the future of computing, despite the fact no one has gotten it quite right on the desktop yet. Adobe is approaching this dilemma from a different angle with its new Photoshop Touch SDK, allowing the legendary image-editing software to interact with smartphones and tablets in creative new ways. To show off the possibilities, Adobe introduced a trio of apps for the iPad -- Adobe Color Lava, Adobe Eazel, and Adobe Nav -- that use a wireless connection to Photoshop 12.0.4 or later (CS5 and CS5.5 via a required update).
Your touch-friendly journey begins in Photoshop’s new Edit > Remote Connections menu. Establish a service name and password, open an iPad app, and connect by tapping the familiar “Ps” icon in the lower-right corner. With an iMac and iPad on the same network, hookup was a snap and worked without a hitch. You’ll need to connect once for each app, but after that you can jump between them while automatically reconnecting to Photoshop.
Color Lava makes anyone feel like a true artist with its slick color-blending tools.
Priced at $2.99, Color Lava lands between the convenience of Nav and the questionable utility of Eazel. Color Lava essentially turns your iPad into a digital paint palette capable of mixing your own colors and accessing them immediately in Photoshop.
Blending colors is a snap: Tap an empty swatch, select one of six available colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or purple) and dab some paint on your palette. Double-tap (or tap and hold) to adjust hue and saturation, or switch to grayscale by tapping the inner ring at the center of your paint wells. Swirl, blend, or smudge in another color or remove one from your “finger” by tapping in the clean well. It’s great fun for those of us who enjoyed finger painting as children, and you don’t even need to wash up afterwards.
Share your Color Lava palettes with colleagues via email or send directly to Photoshop CS5 or higher.
The real beauty of Color Lava is that artists can mix colors while on the go, perhaps from an airplane or on the bus, then instantly use them with Photoshop as soon as you reconnect to the same network. Artists can work with up to 300 “themes” (sets of five swatches), and you can even share them with colleagues directly from the app via email, which can then be loaded into any version of Photoshop.
The bottom line. After shelling out $699 for Photoshop, another $3 for iPad owners to interact with the desktop may not seem like much, but once you get past the “gee whiz” factor, you may feel Adobe is being a touch greedy (pun intended). After all, this app offers nothing for older Photoshop users (how hard could it be to add compatibility with CS4, at least?), and it's not quite compelling enough, at least not yet, to warrant an upgrade. However, what Color Lava does offer is an inexpensive glimpse into a bold future just within reach -- and that, as the saying goes, is priceless.
iPad running iOS 4.3 or later, Adobe Photoshop CS5 version 12.0.4 or higher (Mac or PC)
Slick iPad extension of Photoshop. Useful for true artists on the go.
Requires Photoshop CS5 or higher.