Photoshop Touch and the Creative Cloud
I first wrote about the Adobe Touch apps back in November of 2011. The paradigm of using a touch tablet like an iPad/Android device for Photoshop or InDesign work is one of those technologies in search of a reason to exist. I've played with them, gone through the tutorials, but I've never actually used them for anything serious. Sometimes, I just want to know even if I don't have a current application for the new trick. Back then, I was using Photoshop Touch on my ASUS Transformer tablet. It worked, but I found it a bit silly to think about using the tablet as a serious camera. Equally silly was the idea that I'd send those photos via email to all my friends. All a bit too "social network hip" for my needs.
Since then, I've moved to a 7" tablet format, the Nexus 7. Photoshop Touch wasn't compatible with 7" tablets, so I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, Photoshop Touch is now compatible. I loaded it up and it works just as well there as it did on my larger tablet a year ago. Cool. Now, why do I need it?
And then it occurred to me. Since my initial tests back then, I've also updated to CS6 via the Creative Cloud paradigm. For those of you not aware of this new Adobe plan, in a nutshell it works like this: rather than purchase each piece of software you want (a fortune for each one) and then periodically upgrade to the newer version (half a fortune apiece), you join the Adobe Create Cloud for a monthly fee (a comparative pittance) and have access to all the software Adobe makes. Let me repeat that so it doesn't blast past you — all the software Adobe makes. As a member of the Creative Cloud, you get everything — Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Audition, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Muse, Prelude, Illustrator, Fireworks, Flash Pro, and Acrobat Pro — you get the idea. Wow.
Individual plans are as low as $29 a month — about $540 every 18 months, which is about what I used to pay for just two programs upgrades. What's not to like? Some folks worry that they will lose access to all their documents — and you would — if they stop their membership, but as a publisher, when am I ever going to be able to stop my membership? Never! I suspect Adobe knows that.
There is also a team plan that allows our entire team access to everything for about $70 a month, total, per person. Because Adobe updates all their stuff about every 18 months, we were faced with a huge upgrade cost every year and a half. I did the math: 18 x 70 = $1,260 — that's about ½ of what we used to pay for all the upgrades we did across all the Creative Suite and individual programs we use. It was an easy decision.
One other thing. As a Creative Cloud purchaser, we get the latest updates to each program as soon as they are available. No more waiting for the full Creative Suite update. Just this week, Adobe updated Photoshop for the Creative Cloud members. Disc buyers or Creative Suite folks are waiting for who knows how long.
Back to the Touch apps. One of the parts of the Creative Cloud that sort of escape me was the cloud aspect itself. Each Creative Cloud account comes with 20 gigabytes of cloud storage. Big deal. But — and here's the part where the Touch apps get interesting — the Touch apps can save any project to your cloud storage. When you then download the project to your desktop, it will open in the full program associated with it, complete with all your mobile work intact.
An example: You want to start a brainstorm for an InDesign layout while you are mobile. (Believe it or not, I do this all the time, typically on the back of a proverbial bar napkin.) Now I can create a "mood board" using Adobe Collage and then save it to the cloud. When I get back to my computer, the Collage project "brainstorm and rough-out" opens in InDesign just like it is an InDesign document. I have a jump start without skipping a beat or needing to repeat my working ideas in a new InDesign layout from scratch.
Another example: I start messing around with an image in Photoshop Touch, playing with adjustment layers, composite layers, effects, or even some pretty sophisticate pixel pushing. I save the Photoshop Touch project to the cloud and then open it in Photoshop when I'm back at my computer. The Touch app document is converted to a PSD file with all the layers preserved, including adjustment layers, masks, etc. I can then refine them in Photoshop for the final image. The only limitation is that Touch apps are limited to 4000x3000 pixel images — which is exactly what I use.
The tablet world does not yet have enough color calibration to use them for final editing, but as a mobile sketch pad, they are great. Any work I do on the fly in the brainstorming phase is not lost. Said another way, I don't need to start all over once I'm back at my computer.
Now there is a solid reason for the Creative Cloud/Touch apps paradigm that I can sink my teeth into. The only missing step that is coming (Adobe says), is the ability to share my cloud documents with my other team members so we can have collaborative documents in the cloud. Can't wait for that one.
This is starting to sound like a commercial and I apologize for that. I just think Adobe has made my life as a photographer and publisher so much easier that I want to share my enthusiasm for their stuff. They don't pay me a dime, but if you folks at Adobe are listening and want to pony up, I'll be happy to talk with you.