Adobe's recent decision to retire support for their Flash Player on mobile devices attracted a lot of attention and maybe there is a risk that they might become better known for what they are not doing in the mobile space rather than what they are doing. This would be a shame as recently Adobe released a whole suite of apps for Android tablets (with support for Apple's alternative, the iPad, coming in 2012). What makes these apps so interesting is that they challenge the idea that tablets are only useful for the consumption of content. Instead these apps are targeted at people who want to be creative on their tablets including professional creatives such as web designers.
The Adobe Touch Apps family consists of six apps:
- Adobe Collage - creates "modern moodboards" that combine images, drawings and text.
- Adobe Debut - a presentation tool for work created in the Adobe Creative Suite.
- Adobe Ideas - a drawing tool
- Adobe Kuler - an app that explores colour themes
- Adobe Photoshop Touch - a photo editing tool with effects and layers
- Adobe Proto - a wireframing tool for website design
The apps currently cost £6.99 each here in the UK from the Android Market, which is perhaps an ambitious price point, but maybe quite a low price in the context of the often eye watering expense of Adobe's creative software. Interestingly the apps integrate with Adobe's Creative Cloud which is an online storage service for files generated by their products it seems. This also supports a workflow where you can start a work on an idea on your tablet - when the inspiration hits you, and then refine or finish it off using a tool from Adobe's desktop software.
I impulse bought (whoops) two of the apps from the suite, Photoshop Touch (above) and Adobe Proto as I thought they might come in useful one day. I also signed up to get a free Creative Cloud account and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had been allocated 20GB of storage (but this cannot be used with any old file like Dropbox can). The apps are quite fun to use and there is a high quality feel about them, but a couple of things let them down. Despite being from the same family of apps they do not seem to integrate at all so I had to separately enter my Creative Cloud details in each one. Also if you have ever used Photoshop you will know that the user interface can take a bit of getting used to, it is no different here and mastering these apps will require a learning curve and getting through the odd frustrating time when trying to work out where everything is.
The Photoshop Touch app comes with several tutorials which are great for showing what the software can do and getting you started on learning it. I found though that sometimes it took me a while to find what I needed on the interface as the hints were sometimes not clear. Proto (below) sadly does not have any tutorials built in, but there is a FAQ (frequently asked questions) document hiding away in the samples. Clearer documentation and signposting would make the learning curve a bit shorter.
Using a touch screen instead of a mouse pointer can make accuracy a little difficult, so maybe obtaining a capacitive stylus might be a good idea for any long periods of working with the apps. They are fun though, I am starting to find all sorts of clever features. For example, in Proto if you draw a wavy line at the top of a page it will treat this as a heading and the app will replace the line with a bit of "Lopsum Ipsum" filler text. Another very useful feature as well is that if I saved the wireframe to the Creative Cloud I could then look at it just using a desktop browser. This could be a very useful feature. In Photoshop touch you can truly explore the idea of "photoshopping" an image. It seems quite a powerful app. I am looking forward to learning how to use these apps more fully, but even after the short time I have had a chance to play with them they look very useful.
It would be great one day to see versions of GIMP and Inkscape for Android but it is interesting to see Adobe make this sort of creative software available for tablets. Perhaps it is a reminder that we are all only just starting our journey with tablets and still exploring how they can be used most effectively.
Photo: Colour Highway by Rosmary