Adobe Touch Apps: Is a new era of mobile productivity upon us

Adobe Touch Apps: Is a new era of mobile productivity upon us
Adobe recently introduced a brand new family of apps — Adobe Touch Apps — designed specifically for use on tablet computers. Obviously, the purpose of the new set of six applications is to give you the tools that you need to be a bit more creative on your tablet. Currently available on Android Honeycomb devices, the new programs include Adobe Photoshop Touch, Debut, Proto, Collage, Ideas and Kuler. At first sight, this seems like an impressive line-up of productivity software, so we wanted to look deeper into it and see exactly how much productivity it supplements our tablets with.

Due to the iPad's early lead and superior developer support, Apple's tablet has been enjoying a lot of quality applications, tailored to the needs of productive individuals. However, exactly the opposite situation has been observed when it comes to tablets running on Android. Even to this day, well-made productivity apps for Honeycomb are very few and far between, which makes us extremely enthusiastic when a major developer like Adobe releases something new for the OS. This is certainly one of these moments, but is our enthusiasm justified this time?

The Touch Apps family

The key player in Adobe's Touch Apps is Photoshop Touch. We've been waiting for a true version of the most popular image-editing software (Photoshop Express doesn't count) to come to a mobile OS for quite some time, and now it's a reality. All in all, our impressions of the app are quite positive, as we found it to pack an extensive array of tools and capabilities, all executed with the great quality that we've come to expect from Adobe. See our Adobe Photoshop Touch Review for all the important details about the program.

This leaves us with the other 5 members of the Touch Apps family. If you're wondering what Adobe Debut is, it's simply a presentation tool. The purpose of this app is to let you open Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator documents and present them to clients or colleagues. And, that's pretty much it. Debut is obviously a niche product that will cater to the needs of some designers out there, who are in need of a tool to help them easily present their work, rather than do actual creative work.

Next up, we have Adobe Proto. Web designers or app developers may find this app interesting, as it allows them to create interactive wireframes and prototypes of websites and applications. It seems that Adobe has come up with a pretty intuitive gesture-based interface, which should make creating those wireframes easier. We're mostly positive when it comes to the existence of Adobe Proto. It does seem like a pretty handy tool for web designers (maybe not so much for app designers), which, for example, even allows them to demonstrate how a website could work to a client.

Think of Adobe Collage as a very advanced note-taking app from the future. Its purpose is to let you capture your ideas when inspirations strikes... okay, that's what Adobe tries to push through. Collage is simply an app which lets you import images, write text, draw on the screen and other similar stuff. A little bit of everything, in other words. We don't really see so much value in it.

Adobe Ideas is similar to Collage in that it serves the purpose of helping you catch those ideas that hit you while on the go, but works differently. Ideas is a vector-based drawing application, which also allows you to import images that you can use as reference for your drawings, for example. Later, when you get to your computer, you can further refine your Ideas projects in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. It seems like a handy tool for designers working with vector graphics.

The last member of Adobe's Touch Apps family is Adobe Kuler. It's a pretty straightforward application designed to generate color themes. For instance, if a particular image inspires you with its masterfully selected colors, you can quickly create a color theme out of it with Adobe Kuler. It should be noted that all of these applications are nicely integrated with Adobe's Creative Cloud, so that all of your projects will always stay within reach.

So, are these apps just toys, or tools for actual work?

This is debatable, and the answer is probably somewhere in-between. While Photoshop Touch is surely the main pillar in this new portfolio of applications, and we do like the interface and functionality of the app, most of the other offerings are more or less niche products that serve the needs of relatively small audiences. However, this doesn't mean they aren't nice to have. Plus we're particularly fond of the cool concepts found with Adobe Proto and Adobe Ideas – these may not be the most advanced and feature-rich programs, but are ones that can be really put to good use by both amateur and professional users alike.

Actually, this is where we find proof that, after all, we shouldn't be looking at Adobe's Touch Apps as professional-grade tools. The thing is that they are pretty approachable, whereas, a full-fledged productivity software would almost always frustrate a novice with its complexity and uninviting atmosphere. Yes, you can get some work done with some of these apps, but not much, let alone all of what you need to do, if you're a professional in the field. True, with Adobe Touch Apps, our Android tablets have become slightly more capable, but this just seems like yet another example of how tablets shape up as companions, rather than primary devices, when it comes to being productive. Not that there's something wrong with this.



1. andro.

Posts: 1999; Member since: Sep 16, 2011

These are sweet on android tablets! Great to see the platform getting these first

7. JonGarrett

Posts: 34; Member since: Aug 06, 2011

+1 yep, they're sweet.

2. AppleConspiracy

Posts: 637; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

The whole thing about tablets and constant and artificial pushing them as "more intuitive desktop replacement" is utterly fake, especially when it comes to business and other types of productive users. They are forced to take this role because iPad constituted market demand for this type of products, a now they must be justified through more and more possible applications, no matter how absurd it really is. So is this Adobe's project fake - it cannot really replace professional tools, but it wants to, badly. They will do ANYTHING to replace it, just to keep themselves in the "mainstream game" that's now completely dependent on Apple. It doesn't even matter that they first launched it for Android - the sole motivation for this is migration of home users to tablets, because Apple has FORCED tablets even they don't have any real purpose except weak replacement for main purpose devices. Tablets have everything, but in nothing is it the "real" thing. And so is the destiny of all products for tablets, and that's why tablets died as a concept 9 years ago, just to be resurrected by Apple in attempt to dominate the market by tools of seduction. The seduction works well, as you can see the Adobe has provided us with quasi-functional tools that have no real use for professionals but instead giving us the fake feeling we are productive and professional, just like everything else in this market that is driven by desires and ego more than actual need. But, to be fair and concrete, I will say that tablet and multitouch concept is far from being adequate for professional tools that are based on complex tasks that use myriad of commands, even more their combinations, with ever growing need for more screen real estate, especially in graphic and 3D design applications, more memory, more processing power, extensive use of keyboard combinations with mouse - simply unachievable with clumsy small multitouch screen of tablet, which can provide, in best case scenario, only basic functions of productivity. Of course, you would say that this isn't intended for trully professional approach to work at the first place. But for what is intended then? For non-professional work approach? Why migrating work from PC to tablet at the first place? I'll tell you why: because we need to justify tablet. It's a psychological thing - to make up purpose to something that has no real prupose. And I assure you, soon there wil be numerous "tablet artists" that will do all of their work on tablets (mostly iPad) and have their exhibitions. The work itself will be naive and simple, not so important. The important part of the exhibition will be the fact that it was made on tablet, just as we coul see photography exhibitions of iPhone. Because it's so cool. Being productive is out, being cool is in. And that's why the West is falling apart. Too many PR managers that charge for air and "doing work" on their iPads...

3. Ray.S

Posts: 456; Member since: Jul 19, 2011

While I agree with you that tablets will probably never become versatile enough to be able to substitute a PC or a Mac for work, I do think that they are great products for regular consumers, because of the intuitive and fun user experience they deliver when you're web browsing, enjoying multimedia, etc. So, yeah, they sure aren't the real thing when it comes to productivity, but, at least in my opinion, they are very good at other, consumer-oriented tasks.

4. AppleConspiracy

Posts: 637; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Recently I wrote a comment regarding a new DIVERGENCE of IT industry as opossed to CONVERGENCE that took place in mid-90's. Professional server/workstation ecosystem converged with home personal computer standards and allowed everyone to do everything on the same platform. In the process, there were many losers and many winners, and most of all many new companies. Although different standards, the Linux, Windows and Mac platforms were actually the same platform (in stricly conceptual terms), but now we are witnessing divergence as tablet market start to fill Christmas wish lists... They are devices that fill the gap between complicated interface of classic PC that represents pain in the *ss for large number of home users, and their rapidly growing need for enjoying social networking, multimedia and games. With tablets, there is no longer the problem of PC-iliteracy. Everything is intuitive, but the fact that surfaces is that it therefore cannot replace the dimension of being able to do everything, dependent solely on what user know. So this is a tough situation, tougher than we imagine. Divergence makes thing more complicated. We can see that in all this hassle of major companies to give us the experience of both worlds, but they will soon have to make a choice - those concepts are not comaptibile, they are fundamental antagonisms. While Adobe and others try to cover both worlds in peace and harmony, it will all be nothing but a fake thing, a commercial, a form over substance. Apple doesn't have problems with that. They have decided, they made a choice. The choice is separation. That's why iPad is synonim for tablet. Even when something like ASUS Transformer (Prime) is out there for a buy.

6. AlexJ

Posts: 2; Member since: Nov 25, 2011

Yes, as you say " .... tablet and multitouch concept is far from being adequate for professional tools". But If you read this post of yours after a couple year, you would surely remove it from the cloud. Adobe, I guess is not promoting this as professional tool, they have an armour of tools that the creative professionals use (on MAC too) .. That said, i think we all agree to the fact that the tablets and ipads would gradually change (they are already changing) from consumption device to creation device, as the processing power increases... and I think this and other "Productivity tools" (FYI, "Productivity Apps" is a section present in the APP STORE too ) definately help fill that gap. These touch devices are companiion devices to the more powerful Desktop computers - for now. It would be ammature to comment about its future though ... AJ

5. AlexJ

Posts: 2; Member since: Nov 25, 2011

Hello Ray. S I dont agree with this particular comment that you make for the app - "Adobe Collage". "A little bit of everything, in other words. We don't really see so much value in it" With all respect to the review, i feel that you miss the point of the usefulness of this App. I am sure you must have heard the term "MoodBoard" and the important role it plays in the ideation and pitching process in any creative assignment (or for that matter in any project) Here are a few links that talks about the use of Moodboards for everyones reference .. (check for the user comments in this thread) There are sure many more apps in the android market, but I feel something from Adobe is always welcome. I have used this app and feel that its just works for me. AJ

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