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Exclusive: Diving into the future of Photoshop CC

Fresh off the announcement of Photoshop CC for the iPad, I had the chance to sit down with Stephen Nielson, Director of Project Management for Photoshop, to discuss the new platform for Adobe’s flagship program. We spoke in-depth about the updates for the desktop version of Photoshop and touched on what users should expect from the iPad experience.

Photoshop has evolved year after year since its introduction in 1990, and the 2019 version brings some notable updates for both photographers and designers.

“What we have in Photoshop is an amazing platform that we continue to build on,” said Nielson. “There’s so much that’s already there that we can continue to leverage. For example, having Camera Raw as an input and a filter, we can leverage all the amazing work the photography team has done with RAW processing, using depth masks for selections that are immediately leverageable inside Photoshop.

“Part of the way we balance the photography and graphic design is by leveraging the ecosystem of Adobe products and building on the strengths of the different products.”

The new version of Photoshop for desktop brings a number of new features, including a newly imagined Content-Aware Fill, that will give users better control over how to select areas to replace, and what to replace those areas with.

“These machine learning algorithms are very powerful but they don’t always get everything right. The new Content-Aware Fill workspace is designed to help you direct the machine. You can iterate with the machine together to get a really good result — a perfect result that you could not do on your own.”

Other new features include a Frame tool — allowing users to easily bring in photographs into a frame and have them proportionally resized using Adobe Sensei technology — as well as a live preview of blend modes, an automatic proportionate transform and continuous undo. But one of the most tried and true features in Photoshop, Camera Raw and Lightroom, is how Adobe works with camera and lens profiles.

“We have a number of predefined tests that we run, and scenes that we shoot that we are then able to build a profile based on that. What’s been really great is to really see the adoption of DNG as a RAW format, because then out of the box you have immediate compatibility where you don’t have to wait for an update.”

Put away that mouse — it’s all about touch

Later in 2019, Photoshop will take a giant leap forward, enabling a full version of the application to run on iPad tablets. Featuring pressure sensitivity with the Apple Pencil and a gesture-friendly interface, the new iPad will be able to open PSD files natively and sync your work instantly between the desktop and iPad version through the cloud.

Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller joins Adobe CPO and EVP of Creative Cloud Scott Kelsky on stage Monday during the Adobe MAX Keynote.

By far one of the most anticipated announcements at Adobe MAX, the interface of Photoshop for the iPad is intuitive, easy-to-use and will be a game-changer for both photographers and designers. The first version, slated for 2019, will at first be lacking some features from the desktop version, but Nielson expects that it will catch up with each new update, bringing the iPad version fully in line with its desktop counterpart, as long as the feature makes sense for a touch interface.

“[Photoshop for iPad is] not going to have every feature that desktop [version] has. That’s not to say it’s not capable, because it has the same code, but we are very deliberate about designing things to be appropriate for a touch environment and for a simplified user experience. We just don’t want to throw in the entire UI of Photoshop with a menu bar and 37 panels — we’re very specifically redesigning things to fit that platform.

“The beauty of this system is anything you do on the desktop can be opened up on iPad, modified and brought back to the desktop with absolutely no data loss.”

What’s more, while no announcement was made yet, users can expect that in the future there will be some sort of integration between other Creative Cloud apps on the iPad, like Lightroom CC.

“Just like we do on the desktop, we have the opportunity for a tight integration between the two apps on iPad as well. It can be a little more of a restrictive environment, as iOS only allows certain handoffs between apps. There’s still some explorations to figure out what’s allowed and what’s technically possible, but it’s definitely our intention to build a connection between [Photoshop and Lightroom] as much as we can.”

The iPad version of Photoshop has taken roughly 18 months to develop. And while Nielson didn’t have anything to announce in terms of an Android version, users can definitely expect that Adobe is working towards the app being on multiple platforms.

What’s also unknown at this point is what the future holds for the current Photoshop lineup of apps for iPad — Sketch, Mix and Fix.

Photoshop has made leaps and bounds over the past several years, integrating Adobe Sensei intelligence to improve photographs and designs in ways that users never thought was possible. And it’s only just the beginning.

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