Adobe demos touch-friendly Photoshop CC update at Microsoft Surface Pro 3 launch event


posted Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 11:13 AM EDT


Earlier this week, Microsoft unveiled its latest attempt at gaining traction in the competitive tablet market. Like its predecessor, Surface Pro 3 aims to bridge the divide between Android and iOS tablets and notebook PCs. It runs a Windows 8 operating system and your desktop apps -- including the full-fledged Adobe Photoshop, rather than the cut-down versions available on other tablets -- but it's also larger and heavier than other tablets, although it's undeniably svelte by notebook standards.

With a larger, higher-resolution screen, a more responsive (if less sensitive) N-Trig stylus in place of the earlier Wacom stylus, and the option of a more powerful Core i7 processor, Surface Pro 3 looks to be better-suited to photography than earlier models. More interesting by far, though, was Adobe's brief demo of an updated version of Photoshop CC, currently in development.

A touch-friendly development version of Photoshop CC, running on the Surface Pro 3 tablet.

While Surface Pro 3's screen is larger, after all, it's still small by notebook standards. And although battery life is said to be improved by around 10%, it's still likely to trail smaller, lighter rivals from the tablet world, not to mention larger, heavier notebooks that can devote more room to a larger battery. (Although Microsoft is promising "up to nine hours" of web browsing, much the same as you'd expect of an Android or iOS tablet, that figure that will likely be applicable only to the lowest-powered Core i3 model.)

Photoshop CC will be supporting multi-touch gestures in a future update.

Add in the painfully high pricetag of US$1,950 for the highest-spec'ed Core i7 model, double the cost of a less-sleek notebook with similar specifications, and Surface Pro 3 doesn't look so exciting as a photographic tool. But the overhauled, touch-friendly Photoshop CC isn't only relevant to the device, even if Adobe has chosen to demonstrate it alongside Microsoft's hardware. High-DPI touchscreens are commonplace in notebooks these days, yet using Photoshop on one can still be a painful experience. The fact that a new version addressing these issues is in development isn't really surprising, but it's still great news.

As well as pinch-zoom, Photoshop CC will also support two-fingered pan and rotation.

You can see the demo in the video below if you skip to around the 32 minute, 14 second point. Briefly, though, Adobe Vice President of Experience Design Michael Gough shows off new features including icons that are now twice as large as in the past, and support for multi-touch control. Not only will Photoshop CC be supporting pinch-zoom, but also two-fingered panning and rotation of the workspace, as well. And a nice touch is the ability to perform a two-fingered double tap to reset your view, if you want to quickly return to the straight-and-level. Photoshop CC also looks to work nicely with the N-Trig pen chosen by Microsoft for Surface Pro 3, with relatively minimal lag.

Microsoft's launch event for Surface Pro 3. Skip to the 32-minute mark if you're just interested in the Photoshop CC update.

Of course, all of this is so far just a development demo. There's no telling when it might show up in a shipping product -- but given that Adobe has emphasized its ability to deliver updates faster with its subscription-only Creative Cloud, we'd hope that the update will arrive sooner, rather than later.