Photoshop for iPad: 5 Things You Need to Know

The iPad and Adobe Photoshop have long seemed to be a perfect couple, if only they would work things out. And after years of competitors trying to build their own Photoshop alternatives for the iPad while Adobe tried its own experiments with Apple's tablet, an iPad-friendly version of Photoshop is finally on the horizon. 

Photoshop CC for iPad won't land on Apple's tablet until 2019. But when it does, you can expect an experience not unlike the desktop version of the photo-editing tool. From its perks to its (hopefully temporary) limitations, here's are the five things you need to know about Adobe Photoshop CC for iPad.

MORE: iPad Pro Rumors: What to Expect from Apple's Next Tablet

1. Adobe Photoshop CC Is Real Photoshop

Adobe has released fistfulls of iOS image-editing and drawing apps over the years, but Adobe Photoshop CC is its first attempt to bring its biggest image editor to the iPad. The company's been working on the project for more than two years (it started as a "skunk-works project" within Adobe), and the app finally made its appearance at the Adobe MAX event today (Oct. 15).

Scheduled to launch in 2019, the app works with your existing PSD files and all of your layers, and isn't a mere workaround. So it's not like Photoshop Express, or Photoshop Mix, it's Photoshop CC, and it acts like you expect.

2. Adobe Photoshop CC Isn’t Full Photoshop, Yet

While Adobe is very bullish on promoting this iPad edition of Photoshop CC as the legit version of the image editor, there's an asterisk with that claim. As 9to5Mac reports, "Photoshop CC for iPad will debut with a smaller set of core features initially and the rest will be added back over time," in an attempt to launch a 1.0 version quickly.

There is no schedule for when the rest of the versions will launch, and The Verge notes that the video-focused features, such as the Timeline panel that you'd use for making GIFs, are left out for now. So, if you use every single Photoshop feature there is, don't throw away your laptop. (And during the Max demo of Photoshop on the iPad, Adobe seemed to suggest that this was more of a tool for editing images when you're away from your desktop.)

3. Cloud PSDs to Offer Live Cross-Device Editing

You'll have your choice of where you'll sync your Photoshop CC PSD files — including iCloud Drive and Dropbox — but the best experience will likely come from Adobe itself. Those who sync files over Adobe Creative Cloud will get the option to edit the same files, seamlessly, moving between devices.

That means moving back and forth in your file's history, undoing edits done on your Mac or PC on your iPad, as well as on the slate. It's as if you've got one image editor working on all of your hardware at once.

4. Photoshop CC for iPad Is Different, Touch-Screen Optimized

The iPad's cursor-less interface offered a challenge for Adobe, which adapted Photoshop for the tap-first input. For example, you might notice that the task bar on the top of the screen, with its drop-down menu, is nowhere to be seen. In fact, it's hidden in a toolbar on the right side of the screen.

Adobe's also adding interface tweaks for the iPad, including the touch modifier a button you can hold down on for a secondary option related to the tool you're using. One example listed by The Verge would let you hold down to enable the eraser, while drawing with a brush tool.

5. Photoshop CC for iPad Is Missing Keyboard Shortcuts

While we can't wait to play with Photoshop CC on a speedy iPad Pro, it's currently missing keyboard shortcuts, so that Smart Keyboard won't be as powerful. This is per Dami Lee at The Verge, who has been testing a pre-release version of Photoshop CC on the iPad.

Of course, Adobe says it plans to add those shortcuts to a future version, along with gesture controls.

6. Oh, and one more thing: Project Gemini

Adobe also announced a 2019 iPad Pro app that looks to make just as large an impact: Project Gemini. Gemini will enable users to draw and paint creations that look incredibly realistic, with virtual brushes that create eerily natural-looking watercolor brush strokes, pastels and oil paints.