Affinity Photo on iPad: Will anyone care?

Shivering in the former East Germany back in 2011, I tried—and painfully failed—to get Adobe to invest in a fresh, modern, from-the-ground-up imaging pipeline for Photoshop. It would run beautifully on mobile hardware & scale up to desktops. Instead our mobile play (Photoshop Touch) remained built on top of a mid-90’s platform for banner ads (Flash!), which was almost whimsically insane. Soon after I left the team.

Years later, I think (or at least hope) Adobe might be taking this plunge across their imaging tools. The more interesting question is, will anyone care?

On Monday Serif introduced Affinity Photo for iPad, offering desktop-level photo editing for $20.

Developed without compromise, Affinity Photo for iPad is the first full blown, truly professional photo editing tool to make its way onto the Apple tablet. Built from exactly the same back-end as our award-winning desktop version, and fully optimised to harness the full power of the iPad’s hardware and touch capabilities. Affinity Photo for iPad offers an incredibly fast, powerful and immersive experience whether you are at home, in the studio or on the move.

Here’s a 30-second tour:

I’m eager to try it, and I wish these folks well—but I’m skeptical about it finding a large audience. Working on Photoshop Touch, I struggled to discern an audience that wants “real” power/complexity on mobile devices. Building a desktop-style editor was like building a great home office… on the beach. That is, it’d be sticking a serious, productivity-oriented tool into a lean-back consumption context.

I saw that when people wanted to work, they’d simply put away the tablet and take out their “real” computer (which no one had confiscated, and which retained a larger screen, more memory, etc.). In powerful mobile apps like Snapseed & VSCO, the vast majority of use happens on phones, not tablets. Outside of sketching/painting apps (which cater to a skills set that few people really have), I’ve yet to see serious creative tools take root on tablets.

Anyway, we shall see!


7 thoughts on “Affinity Photo on iPad: Will anyone care?

  1. Yes, we will care…
    I think iPad Pro, more than a “trend” is going to be the paradigm of a true mobile creation platform…
    iOS11 will be more “desktop” than ever, with file management and better multi app management.

    SO yes, you’re right, it’s high time Adobe takes really seriously their competitors.
    Illustrator (even Photoshop) has been ditched in favor of Sketch and Affinity Designer for UI Design
    Pixelmator, Affinity Photo have cheaper solutions and more integrated with features of iOS and MacOS

    CreativeCloud is an isolated ecosystem, and not a very inviting one for newcomers in the mobile territory. I train in Digital Imaging skillsets and do include tools like Snapseed, with are really usable, affordable and work really well with devices…

    I’ve noticed that people without the bias of previous knowledge of “pro” tools, really prefer this kind of modern approach and are more inclined to do work in tablets and so.

  2. You are right Jesus, we do care a lot.
    When the first iPad pro came out I jumped on it and started editing with whatever app I could get my hands on. Just loved it. Editing my images from a comfortable arm chair or anywhere in the field I only could see this to be the future of image editing and still do.
    Images are for sharing and the combination of mobile editing and the web for instant results, is my way of doing things. With the new 10.5/ios11/affinity photo release i see this dream of tablet editing becoming a big step closer to reality.
    On top of that I must admit I am an Adobe hater. Not their staff or products, but the company and its management. Their blatant rental system serves Adobe only…not their customers . When monopolies become this self-serving because they think they can, they have sown the seeds of self-destruction. When we can buy Affinity photo style products for AU$30 you know you get ripped off by that stupid rental system. There is not an Adobe user I know off coming from the old Cs system that doesn’t hate the rental system. Time will tell.

    1. I have been following you for a long time John, from long before you left Adobe. It is interesting to hear you carefully talk about Adobe in this way. Even old Adobe employees seem to maintain high level of loyalty not stating their true feelings about Adobe. Even after so many years and after Adobe took such horrible left turn in relation to their customers.

  3. I know I do. Over the past year I’ve shifted most of my work over to iPad. I manage 15+ client websites using Coda. On the Mac I’d been shifting most of my non-InDesign work over to Affinity Designer and Photo. I almost never open Photoshop or Illustrator anymore. Affinity Photo is the real deal which is to say, it has most of the features found on the Mac version and can be interchanged from iPad to Mac and back. I bought it immediately and have already used it for several client projects with great delight.

    So, yes, some of us do. And really, having a look at iOS 11 it seems pretty clear that Apple’s intent is to keep going with the iPad. They’re deepening their investment and I suspect that as the months roll by many more users will begin delving deeper into it’s capabilities. When Affinity Designer is released I’ll buy it immediately. I’d pay them double what they will likely be asking for it. I’ll use it on this big, beautiful iPad to earn my living.

    As much as I’ve enjoyed using my Macs for the past 24 years I now use this new kind of “Mac” that Apple calls the iPad. No going back.

    1. Thanks for the perspective. I don’t doubt that you & other professionals would pay double without hesitation, but for a company like Adobe, even that (in this case $26, which is what they’d gross from a $40 sale after Apple takes its cut) just isn’t interesting. Making eight figures with Photoshop Touch wasn’t interesting. They’re going to need that amount or more from you every month in order to justify developing a suite of apps. Now, maybe folks like Affinity can be a lot more nimble and lean, and maybe that’ll be enough. As I say, we shall continue to see.

  4. I use a mac book pro and Ipad pro. My work load is predominately ipad based. Once designer comes to the Ipad pro and I learn it there will no need for Adobe Ilustrator, except that my employer uses it to build their design files.

  5. As a hobby photographer I’m loving Affinity both for my MacBook and iPad Pro. I had the complete Adobe CC suite for a year, expensive and after I’d learned the programs I didn’t really use it that much. Once my year was up,Adobe wanted to raise the cost by 50%, so I cancelled. Affinity photo and Designer took their place, and if I need a full video editor I may pay for Final Cut Pro, but I’d have to justify the cost over what use I’d get from it that I currently can’t get from iMovie, for my limited video needs.
    I just hope that Afinity sticks to its pricing model, and doesn’t get greedy.

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