Adobe Photoshop CS5.1 Touch Apps

      Photo Review 8.5

      In summary

      We focus on new apps developed to integrate Photoshop with mobile devices like tablets and smart phones. Photoshop received a minor revision when Adobe upgraded its software suites to Version 5.5 in May. The new version (12.0.4) was so slight as to be barely noticeable but included changes to the internal scripting engine to enable users to integrate Photoshop CS5 with new companion apps as they become available for mobile devices like tablets and smart phones and access added connectivity between Photoshop and these devices. . . [more]

      Full review


      Photoshop received a minor revision when Adobe upgraded its software suites to Version 5.5 in May. The new version (12.0.4) was so slight as to be barely noticeable but included changes to the internal scripting engine to enable users to integrate Photoshop CS5 with new companion apps as they become available for mobile devices like tablets and smart phones and access added connectivity between Photoshop and these devices.

      This allows users of the latest version to communicate with a desktop version of Photoshop CS5 via mobile devices such as Apple’s iPad and tablets and smartphones using the Android operating system. You can display images from Photoshop on the device’s screen and use the screen to select tools and colours. You can also zoom in and out of images, a feature that could help professional photographers to showcase the quality of their images to clients.

      A new cross-platform Photoshop Touch SDK (Software Development Kit) is enabling developers to take advantage of these functions to create a suite of companion apps. While Apple’s iOS doesn’t support Adobe’s Flash (but does support AIR), Flash is supported on the Android platform, giving Adobe a large potential developer base for additional apps.

      Version 5.5 is a free update for current users of Photoshop CS5, which we reviewed in April 2010. Adobe also introduced a new subscription system that enables consumers to use Creative Suite products but pay for them on a monthly or yearly basis. The one-year plan offers lower monthly payments and requires a one-year commitment. The month-to-month plan provides the flexibility of a short-term commitment.

      New Apps
      With the launch of CS5.5, Adobe produced three iPad apps to showcase the new functions available within Version 5.5. They will be available through the Apple App Store but you will have to locate them with a Google search on the app’s name or via a link at (Video tutorials demonstrating the features of these apps can be viewed at


      The three new mobile device apps that require the latest version of Photoshop.

      Each app has to be set up to interface with Photoshop from the Photoshop desktop by selecting Edit > Remote Connections and filling in the dialog box with a Service Name and Password. The Enable Remote Connections checkbox must be checked to enable the interactions.


      Setting up the remote connections for the Adobe apps. (Source: Adobe.)

      Adobe Eazel (US$2.99) is a painting app similar to Brushes and photographers who use Wacom tablets should feel at home when using it. Placing all five fingertips on the mobile device’s touch screen displays the user interface and tool set.


      Accessing the tool set for Adobe Eazel. (Source: Adobe.)

      Users can create paintings and sketches with their fingers on a touch screen, adjusting functions such as brush size, colour and opacity. An undo control is also provided.


      Saving options for Adobe Eazel creations. (Source: Adobe.)

      The end results can be sent directly to Photoshop CS5 from any location or share them via email. In addition, users can display an image they are editing on the mobile device while working on their main computer.


      Sending an illustration created in Adobe Eazel to the Photoshop desktop. (Source: Adobe.)

      Adobe Color Lava (US$2.99) is probably more relevant to designers than photographers. It works like an artist’s palette, enabling users to mix colours on the screen. It can be used to create custom swatches and five-swatch themes that can be transferred to Photoshop CS5 or shared via a network connection.


      The Color Lava palette. (Source: Adobe.)


      Mixing colours with Color Lava to create custom swatches. (Source: Adobe.)

      Adobe Nav (US$1.99) for controlling Photoshop’s tools using the iPad as a new input surface. Users can customise the Photoshop CS5 toolbar to provide quick access to frequently-used tools and browse, reorder, view and zoom in on up to 200 open Photoshop documents as well as sharing documents online.


      Connecting with Photoshop in Adobe Nav. (Source: Adobe.)


      The tool palette in Adobe Nav. Tools can be dragged from the side toolbar and dropped onto the palette. (Source: Adobe.)


      Open documents in Adobe Nav. (Source: Adobe.)

      But these are not the only products available for mobile devices. The recent release of Datacolor’s SpyderGallery 1.1 now provides colour calibration facilities that make the iPad a more capable display device and enables closer integration with desktop systems. Adobe also offers editing and drawing applications that integrate with its Creative Suite 5 applications.

      Photoshop Express is a free basic editing and image organisation app for smartphones and tablet PCs. Available for both iPad and Android devices, it provides a ‘quick fix’ tool set for cropping, straightening, adjusting exposures and colours and touching up minor imperfections plus a range of digital effects. The adjustments provided are limited but they should be adequate for casual users of the devices.


      Photoshop Express with an image ready for editing. The toolbox is on the left side of the screen.


      Adjusting exposure in Photoshop Express.


      Monochrome conversion in Photoshop Express.


      An example of one of the painting effects in Photoshop Express.

      Photoshop Express Style Match is a tool that lets you copy the style from one of three pre-sets displayed on-screen onto a selected image. It’s a simplified online version of the Photomerge Style Match feature available in Photoshop Elements 9 software. Sliders are provided for increasing or toning down the selected effect.


      The Photoshop Express Style Match interface.

      Adobe Ideas is an iPad app that supports simple vector drawing and undo and redo for up to 50 actions. Size, Opacity, and Colour controls are provided on the main toolbar, which can be moved to the right or to the left of the screen.


      Examples of applications using Adobe Ideas. (Source: Adobe.)
      The Premium version supports up to ten drawing layers plus a photo layer for each sketch. Users can control opacity and the order of each layer. Finished work can be exported as a PDF email attachment with vector content included or saved as a JPEG file directly to the photo album for easy access from other apps.

      Upgrading to CS5.5 will have no impact on the Camera Raw plugin because updates are tied to the first number of the version.

      What Else is New in CS5.5?
      Most of the new features in Creative Suite 5.5 are designed to provide greater flexibility for publishing. Consequently, the components of the suite most affected are InDesign, Deamweaver, Flash Pro, Premiere Pro and After Effects. In each case, the revisions have been developed to take advantage of the popularity of the iPad and other mobile devices, which have been released since the release of CS5.

      InDesign CS5.5 provides tools for incorporating the device’s swipe and zoom capabilities plus enhanced authoring options for eBooks. A new simplified object selection makes it easier to control objects in documents. There are new functions for embedding images that will resize for any size screen.

      Integration of InDesign with HTML5 enables designers to add audio and video to ePubs while the new CS Review (part of the new CS Live online services) provides a simple way for users to share work and receive feedback from colleagues and clients. Users can also export files as ePubs for viewing on a tablet device.

      Dreamweaver has been given a significant upgrade, with the addition of a preview screen that supports input from desktop, tablet and smartphone, enabling users to compare the latest versions of their websites. PhoneGap integration has made it easier for users to create new apps for Android, Blackberry, iPad and iPhone platforms, while jQuery support enables users to produce web applications that work on both mobile and desktop platforms.

      Flash Builder 4.5 Premium Edition comes with support for ActionScript and Flex projects and includes mobile-ready components. There’s also support for HTML5 and CSS3 and updates to Flash Professional CS5 provide content scaling for any screen size and resolution.

      Premiere Pro provides support for a wider range of graphics cards and brings GPU acceleration to a wider range of video effects. A new Warp Stabiliser can automatically remove jitters from hand-held footage. The new Merge Clips function makes it easier to synchronise sound that has been recorded separately from the video footage and will assist DLSR users who shoot video but record soundtracks on a separate device.

      Additional format support has been added to the Media Encoder, which is now 64-bit enabled and now includes AVC-Intra and DPX. Pre-sets are available for users who don’t want the hassle of dealing with codecs and bit rates. Watch folders are available for encoding clips to multiple formats with a simple drag-and-drop.

      Adobe Audition has returned to the Master Collection, after having been replaced with SoundBooth in CS5. Compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems, it supports multi-core processors and has a new surround sound mixer.

      Other CS 5.5 products, like Illustrator, Bridge and Fireworks provide no noticeable changes or improvements from their CS 5 versions. Adobe is simply relabeling them from Creative Suite 5 to Creative Suite 5.5.

      Should You Upgrade?
      The only improvements to Photoshop CS5 in Photoshop CS 5.5 are for software developers so if you don’t write apps or plug-ins for Photoshop, there’s really not much point. There are no new features related to image editing so it’s not worth the time or expense to upgrade.

      However, if you make extensive use of smartphones and tablets for displaying pictures you may find the new apps worthwhile, despite their limitations. Designers who are developing apps for these mobile platforms could also find the upgrade pays off in the long run, although being able to use them is predicated on having the latest version of Photoshop installed on your computer. And that’s a sizeable investment, even if you only need to upgrade from the CS4 version of Photoshop.

      We can’t understand why Adobe imposes a premium price on its products in Australia when all are available as downloads. There’s no shipping and handling costs involved so the only investment the company requires is in paying for product development. And surely that should be spread equally among buyers worldwide instead of giving one area special privileges.

      Buyers in Australia are expected to pay AU$1671 for the Full boxed version of Photoshop CS5 with a discounted price of AU$1519 if you simply download it. Upgrading from an earlier version will cost you AU$585, while subscriptions are priced from AU$73.75.

      If you live in the USA you can buy the Full version of Photoshop CS5 for US$699, upgrade for only US$199 or subscribe for US$35. And they’re offering buyers a 30% discount on Lightroom 3 when purchased with a Creative Suite 5.5 Edition or Photoshop CS5.

      AND the Australian dollar is still worth more than the US dollar – and has been for more than nine months!




      Systems compatibility: Windows XP, Vista and 7, Mac OS X v10.5.8 or v10.6
      Disk space requirement: 2GB
      Minimum RAM: 1GB
      Display requirements: 1024 x 768 dot resolution (1280×800 recommended) qualified hardware-accelerated OpenGL graphics card, 16-bit colour, and 256MB of VRAM
      Computer interface: DVD-ROM drive; QuickTime 7.6.2 software required for multimedia features; Broadband Internet connection required for online services and to validate Subscription Edition (if applicable) on an ongoing basis.





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      Rating (out of 10):

      • Interface Design: 9.0
      • Versatility: 8.5
      • Ease of Use: 8.5
      • OVERALL: 8.5