iPad becomes fully integrated Photoshop tool, Android and PlayBook next

Adobe Color Lava, Eazel, and Nav for Photoshop icons for iOS

Adobe is fully integrating mobile tablets into Photoshop CS5, turning them into powerful peripherals for content creation and display. On Monday, Adobe announced the Photoshop Touch SDK, and three iPad applications (Color Lava, Eazel, and Nav) which show the impressive new capabilities that an iPad or touchscreen tablet can give your Photoshop setup.

With the launch of the iPad 2 earlier this year, Apple launched iPad-optimized versions of Garageband and iMovie, two pieces of software that finally began to prove mobile tablets aren't just for content consumption, but also content creation. But those apps, like Photoshop for iPad, are just pared down versions of desktop software meant to stand on their own.

Adobe has taken a completely different approach with these iOS applications: rather than standing alone, these apps wirelessly pair up with a PC running Photoshop CS5, and extend the workspace out to the iPad's touchscreen. This gives users easier access to canvases, layers, tools, albums of completed art, and many other capabilities.

Color Lava

This application turns the iPad into a virtual artist's palette, where users can daub and mix paints with their fingers just like they would on a palette, and then send them back to their Photoshop workspace.


Eazel turns the iPad into a finger painting canvas, where all the Photoshop tools are at the user's disposal. iPad finger painting art has made its way all the way to the cover of the New Yorker, and Adobe seeks to give artists more tools than have previously been available.


Photoshop CS5 has over 70 individual tools, but only a third of them are shown on screen by default. With Nav, Photoshop users can create their own toolboxes that show as many or as few tools as they need out on the iPad's screen. From there, they can command and control Photoshop; for example, they can change colors, screen rows, begin new projects, or view and navigate through up to 200 Photoshop project files. Even if the wireless connection between the PC and the tablet is broken, all of the project files can still be viewed on the tablet, so if an artist needs to show his work to co-workers down the hall, he can simply walk away with his art in his hands.

Adobe considers these capabilities to be platform agnostic, because they are all possible through the Photoshop Touch SDK which can be downloaded freely right now at Adobe.com/devnet/photoshop.

"Photoshop is basically set up as a server, so any mobile device --or even another PC-- can communicate over the open socket," Photoshop Engineer Tom Ruark told Betanews. "We've got examples using AIR, Android, and iOS, so there are tons of opportunities here. We've got a huge scripting interface available to developers. You just put the Javascript code on your tablet, then send that code to us over the connection and Photoshop executes it just as if you were there on the machine running an action or script."

Nav, Color Lava, and Eazel for iOS will be available in May 2011 and will cost $1.99, $2.99, and $4.99 respectively.

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