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If touch is the future of computing, how come no one's gotten it quite right on the desktop yet? Adobe is attempting to do just that with its new Photoshop Touch SDK, allowing the gold standard of image-editing software to interact with touchscreen tablets in nifty new ways. To show off the possibilities, Adobe's trio of iPad apps, including Adobe Eazel, Adobe Nav, and Adobe Color Lava, wirelessly connect to Photoshop 12.0.4 or later (CS5 and CS5.5, via a required update).
You'll start in Photoshop’s new Edit > Remote Connections menu. Establish a service name and password, open an iPad app, and connect by tapping the “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.
Adobe Eazel: The most fun you’ll have with all five fingers at once.
The $2.99 Adobe Eazel app is all about using your fingers to create on the iPad, then sending your work to Photoshop, where it is re-rendered at a higher resolution that you can edit and save in any format you desire.
Touching the Eazel screen with all five fingers, edit controls appear under your thumb (undo, clear and redo), with Color, Size, Opacity, and Settings at each of your fingertips; move the appropriate finger and you’ll change that setting. It’s an impressive use of Multi-Touch to be sure, and you’ll get some “oohs” and “ahs” from friends you show it to, assuming you can train your fingers to use it in the first place.
The Color button brings up a wheel with five paint wells. Select one and move your finger around the wheel until you reach your desired color, then tap off to the side to paint. Size and Opacity are controlled by sliding your finger up or down on the option, keeping an eye on the circle in the upper-left for real-time feedback.
Finish your Eazel projects in full resolution by transmitting them wirelessly to Photoshop CS5 or higher.
Settings is a bit of a misnomer, since it brings up the option to play a short demo video, as well as beaming your work to Photoshop or saving it directly on the iPad. Users of older versions of Photoshop are stuck with the latter low-resolution exports, and there’s no way make changes in Photoshop and then push the image back to Eazel for further tweaking.
Unfortunately for those without much skill at painting, Eazel is mostly a nice proof of concept. It’s missing critical features such as layers, and the general lack of precision takes some getting used to. Although Eazel claims compatibility with all iPads, performance on the original model suffers a bit, even with basic painting.
The bottom line. After shelling out $699 for Adobe Photoshop, another $3 for an iPad app may not seem like much, but once you get past the “gee whiz” factor of these Photoshop Touch apps, you may feel Adobe is being a touch greedy (pun intended). It totally leaves users of CS4 and earlier out in the cold, and it's definitely not cool enough to warrant an upgrade. However, Eazel is still an interesting and inexpensive glimpse into the future and a way to get more "hands on" with your designs.
iPad running iOS 4.3 or later, Adobe Photoshop CS5 version 12.0.4 or higher (Mac or PC)
Slick iPad extension of Photoshop.
Limited feature set lacks key features such as layers. Feels like it’s pushing the limits of the original iPad hardware, but runs better on iPad 2. Requires Photoshop CS5 or higher.