Adobe has added new mobile apps to its own creative ecosystem, which now offers Sketch, Line, Voice, Lightroom Mobile, Ideas, Kuler, and Photoshop Mix. Some of these apps integrate with the Adobe Creative Cloud desktop programs (PC and Mac) to create and edit projects, but others also work as an independent tool.
Lightroom Mobile is one of the most interesting photo editing apps for mobile devices because of its quality and features, and lets you do a lot even if you are not subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud.
The suite’s weakest link seems to be Photoshop Mix. The possibility to edit individual layers of PSD files is interesting, but it doesn’t include many features: the most interesting are only available for premium users (Creative Cloud subscribers) and are, overall, not very useful.
Luckily, for each feature it provides, there are alternatives.
layrs: editing masks and transparencies
layrs is a free app that is incredibly good for the quantity and quality of its features, as well as the fluidity that the intelligent interface provides. You can add as many layers as you want (the developer doesn’t specify a limit, and when I tried it, I was easily able to add eight), and apply effects and filters to each of them independently.
There are filters, tools to correct brightness and color, and much more, all easy to use even on the small screen of an iPhone.
The mask selection tool, which lets you isolate parts of the picture, works pretty well, although it can still be improved. In fact, it takes patience to select the item with precision if it has an irregular shape or if the colors of the object are too similar to the background.
Compared with Photoshop Mix, layrs lets you add many layers to each project (only two on Adobe’s app), and has a lot more features.
TouchRetouch: Delete imperfections and unwanted content
In the classic Photoshop for desktop, the Healing Brush tool is used to remove blemishes from photos including graffiti, skin imperfections, or anything else you don’t want in your picture.
TouchRetouch does the same thing, simply and effectively. Just choose one of the selection tools, highlight the section to be retouched, and then tap the Go! button. Like magic, the app will analyze the surrounding area and the imperfection will disappear.
Photoshop Mix has the similar Content-aware fill tool. It does the same thing, but the editing process is slightly different: the image is uploaded to the cloud, processed, and then sent back to your iPad in four different versions, letting you choose the option that convinces you the most. In addition, this tool is only for premium users.
In short, it takes longer than TouchRetouch, and it’s not free.
Straighten: Correct angle and perspective:
Like above, the feature that lets you straighten photos in Photoshop Mix uploads the image to the Creative Cloud, edits four versions, and then automatically sends them back automatically to the device for your selection.
Straighten is an excellent free alternative. In addition to manually straightening the images with the help of guides, it lets you crop the image and choose an aspect ratio. All the picture’s metadata is kept after editing, including the time and place it was taken, and information on the camera used.
Image Straightener, on the other hand, only lets you fix the image’s rotation, but with a useful indicator that shows the degree of the correction applied.
This means you have complete control over a function that, thanks to the grid, becomes extremely accurate. It’s not that Photoshop Mix does a bad job, but it’s automatic, as the tool tries to guess which is the correct angle of the shot.
It normally gets it right, but doing it manually, for free and without having to wait is something completely different.
Snapseed: Improve the sharpness (and much more)
Snapseed combines a huge amount of excellent photo editing tools in one single free app.
Just like layrs, the app offers an intelligent interface and makes the most of the touch screen. With it, you can carry out selective editing of specific sections of the picture. It also supports very large files (on the third-generation iPad and iPhone 5, it can work with 20.25 megapixel shots).
The tools to improve the sharpness of the pictures are only one of the many features that Snapseed hides.
Adobe is Adobe, but…
The fact that there are good alternatives to Photoshop Mix tools doesn’t mean that Adobe’s app isn’t good.
It’s actually a decent addition to the Creative Suite, and considered with Adobe’s system of creative tools (both desktop and mobile), it can be interesting.
People who love taking pictures with their iPhone, however, don’t need all the tools that Adobe Creative Suite offers, especially with so many free or cheap alternatives.
If you’re interested in mobile photography, read our complete Instagram guide.