Adobe’s next-generation photo-retouching app, Photoshop Fix (which is for iOS only), joins the growing number of the company’s mobile apps feeding into its Creative Cloud design-oriented army of software tools.
In the case of Fix, though, it enters a fairly mature market with tons of robust competitors like Pixelmator , Polarr and Adobe’s own Aviary and Lightroom mobile . While Fix has a couple of novel features, its primary advantage over the rest is its integration with Photoshop via Creative Cloud. CC enables it to send editable, layered PSD files to the desktop and roundtrip a photo to Lightroom. If you don’t need those capabilities, you probably won’t need Fix.
Like the other apps, Fix is free with an Adobe ID (just download it from the App Store here and create an account when it asks you to sign in). But to take advantage of the Lightroom or Photoshop integration you need to subscribe to CC, at the very least to the Photography Plan. (You can find US, UK and Australian pricing for CC at those links.)
Photoshop Fix differentiates from Lightroom mobile in two important ways. Fix’s operations are usually destructive (meaning it can degrade the image) and for primarily mask-based local adjustments (selected areas); LR, on the other hand, is always nondestructive and performs global (the entire image) adjustments only. While this clear delineation makes it easy for the developers, for us users the separation doesn’t make quite as much sense.
I think I like Fix’s interface more than the competition’s. You start a new project by opening a photo from one of several locations: your iPad ‘s photos, the camera, Creative Cloud or a Lightroom synced collection, Facebook or Dropbox. The tools line the bottom of the screen.
Fix offers cropping and rotating; exposure adjustments; freehand and face-specific warping; healing, cloning and red-eye reduction; smoothing and sharpening; lighten, darken and clarity (called “structure”); saturation, desaturation and “pop”; painting; selective blurring; and vignetting.
As with the other Adobe apps, Fix uses a modular approach rather than fly-in panels. In the Adjustments module, you can apply global changes to the exposure, contrast, saturation, and highlights and shadows via sliders. The sliders have no units, which I hate, but they do reflect the fact that changes in the middle of the scale will appear more intense than changes at the ends.
Noticeably absent from the basic adjustments are one-touch fixes, and most painfully, a histogram display and white-balance correction. Yes, they would overlap with Lightroom, but the latter two really, really need to be here.
In the upper left corner of the module screens are a layer opacity slider and a before/after toggle. On the right are undo and redo, plus a full-screen option. Thank you, Adobe, for not relying on gestures for undo and redo as you’ve done in the past.
In many of the other modules, the left side holds (depending upon the operation) brush size, opacity and hardness adjustment tools, plus a mask overlay toggle and a restore brush to paint in mask refinements. Before leaving any module you can choose to cancel or commit the changes.