Photoshop on the iPhone and in the “cloud”

Adobe has released Mobile (iTunes Link), an iPhone app. While I was checking out the new app, I also took a look at the web-based, cloud-hosted service. Mobile: The iPhone App Mobile is a free app for your iPhone. You can use it to make some basic adjustments and apply preset filters. Some of the adjustments are useful (for example, exposure changes, cropping and black and white conversion). iPhone App screenshots

While there are a few decent filters, there are also some terrifyingly bad filters (see “pop” and “rainbow.”) I’ve posted a gallery with some examples of these filters and effects. I would love to see some form of sharpening added and the ability to view a histogram.

Examples of selected filters in use. Top left, original image. Top right, vignette blur + black and white. Bottom left, vibrant + vignette blur. Bottom right, rainbow

When you are done, you can save the image to “Photos” on your iPhone. Or you can choose to upload them to More on that in a second…

In general, it works pretty well. And while I did have a few crashes, it is pretty stable and I’m sure it will get more stable as it’s updated. For a free app, it’s solid and worth a download. The Photo-Hosting Service

But you can’t talk about the iPhone app without talking about, Adobe’s web-based application for hosting and editing photos. The service is free and includes 2 GB of storage. It can host both images and videos.

You can upload images, edit them and then share galleries and slide shows. The editing is relatively powerful, allowing you to make lots of alterations including modifying the white balance or performing sharpening. even provides import opinions for Flickr and Facebook galleries.

The application is Flash-based and is relatively attractive. It mirrors the look and feel of an Adobe app, so if you are familiar with the Creative Suite (especially Bridge), you should be comfortable in the interface. Performance is generally very good, but I experienced some slow down with animations. I’m sure your mileage will vary depending on your computer, browser or internet connection.

But there are some oddities. Sometimes, the interface doesn’t behave consistently – requiring a single click for some functions and a double click for others without apparent pattern or cause.

One of the strangest things is that there is no real social networking features. Sure, you can share albums with friends, but there is no way to browse people who have accounts. And you can’t search for tags or keywords like you can on Flickr. So if you, like me, don’t know anyone with a account, this feature is useless.

I’m not really sure what the target market is for the service. Some of the features are powerful. But people who would use the powerful features aren’t going to want to edit images with a web-based service. Some features are useless or tacky (like the “Decorate” feature that lets you add thought bubbles, post-it-notes and clip art to your images).

In the end, I’m not sure why I would use this for sharing pictures over Flickr, Facebook or even .Mac’s Web Gallery. It’s not that it’s bad, but it just doesn’t offer me enough features to make the switch… I’m sure they will be continuously adding features, but for now, I don’t see a compelling reason to change services.

What’s next? Photoshop: The Flame Thrower

So I like the iPhone app, and I don’t love the web-based service. The bigger issue for me, though, is what Adobe is doing to the Photoshop brand. To me, Photoshop is a professional image editing application. But now, you have Photoshop CS4, Photoshop Extended CS4, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Lightroom, and the iPhone app. Photoshop even has it’s own logo.

This type of brand extension is problematic, because now, anything that Adobe offers that is used with photos – from beginner to professional – has “Photoshop” in the name. Is the ability to put a cheesy speech bubble on a picture using really a “Photoshop” feature? Does tacky clip art belong in any app bearing the “Photoshop” name?

And while photographers and designers will continue to use Photoshop, the loss of brand equity is, in my opinion, an unwise brand management decision.