Adobe Photoshop Express App Review

Free Mobile Photo Editor for iOS and Android

Adobe Photoshop Express opening screen
Adobe Photoshop Express opening screen. © Adobe

Publisher's Site

What is Photoshop Express?
Photoshop Express is Adobe's free app for editing photos on your iPad, iPhone, or iPad touch. PS Express offers a small set of fun and useful photo editing tools with an easy-to-understand user interface. It also works with built-in cameras on the iPhone and iPod touch, and the Photoshop.com online photo service. Although this review is for the iOS version, Photoshop Express is also available for Android devices.

Version Reviewed: Photoshop Express 2.7 for iOS

Cost and Compatibility:
Free. Camera pack offered as in-app purchase for $3.99. Universal app compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad running iOS 4.2 or later.

Photoshop Express Pros:

  • Free.
  • In-app tips.
  • Make adjustments using the full screen instead of small slider controls.
  • Adjustment results are displayed in real-time.

Photoshop Express Cons:

  • Does not provide a wide range of features.
  • Photoshop.com online photos can only be shared--not edited or saved to your device.
  • In-app photo taking is not yet compatible with the iPad 2 camera.
  • Camera pack with noise reduction filter costs $3.99.

Photoshop Express Description:

  • Tools: crop, straighten, rotate, and flip.
  • Adjustments: exposure, saturation, tint, contrast, and convert to black and white.
  • Filters: Sketch, Soft Focus, and Sharpen. (Reduce Noise can be added with camera pack in-app purchase.)
  • Effects: Vibrant, Pop, Border, Vignette Blur, Warm Vintage, Rainbow, White Glow, and Soft Black and White.
  • Borders: Rectangle, Rounded, Oval, Soft Edge, Vignette, Rough Edge, Halftone, and Film Emulsion.
  • Control adjustments using simple gestures. No complicated inputs or controls.
  • Undo/Redo
  • Save edits to device camera roll, and share to Photoshop.com, Facebook, or TwitPic.
  • Select pictures from device's photo album, or take a photo with the built in camera on iPhone and iPod touch.
  • Browse and share online photos and videos from Photoshop.com account (2GB free storage).
  • $3.99 in-app camera pack purchase adds noise reduction, 3 or 10 second self-timer, and 2 or 5 second photo review timer.

Working with Photoshop Express

Some preconceived notions come with the name Photoshop, and perhaps that's why this app has received some strong criticism and low ratings in the app store. To set the record straight, Photoshop Express is just what the name implies--a "just-the-basics" mobile photo editor. It is not intended to be a mobile knock-off of the desktop Photoshop program. Within these parameters, it is quite good at what it does--and it's free!

When you first open Photoshop Express, you have the option to use the camera (on supported devices) or select a photo from your device's photo library for editing. You can also choose to browse online photos on Photoshop.com. The camera option is pretty straightforward. If you have purchased the camera pack for $3.99, it adds a photo review button which will let you display the photo you just took for 2 or 5 seconds to decide whether to keep or delete it, and it adds a self-timer so you can take a picture on a 3 or 10 second delay, which can often help reduce camera shake for clearer pictures.

You need an internet connection to connect to Photoshop.com, and then you can browse all the photos and videos you have stored there. You can also share individual photos or albums by email. Unfortunately, that's all you can do with the online photos--you can't open your online photos in the editor of Photoshop Express, save them to your device, or display them in a slideshow. It seems like Adobe could have done a lot more with the Photoshop.com connection. The ability to bring your online photos into the app for editing and store them on your device for offline access would make the service so much more appealing.

When you choose a photo for editing in Photoshop Express, the interface is slightly different depending on whether you are using an iPad or a smaller screen device such as the iPhone or iPod touch.

Either way, the options are easy to find, and new users will get pop-up hints describing how each feature is adjusted. The various adjustments (listed above) are accessed through four main icons for tools, adjustments, filters, and effects/borders. Save, cancel, undo, and redo buttons are also displayed.

All the editing functions are performed with simple gestures. Most adjustments only require you to drag your finger left or right, but some are instantly applied. The crop tool offers some common aspect ratios (1:1, 3:4, and 4:3) in addition to a free-form crop rectangle. From the editor, you can also share your pictures online through Photoshop.com, Facebook, TwitPic, and email.

Camera pack purchasers also get a reduce noise filter, which can be useful, especially on the low-quality photos from the iPod touch camera. At $3.99, I feel the camera pack is a bit pricey, since some less-expensive apps have a noise reduction feature, and the review timer and self-timer options for the in-app camera are available in many other camera apps. Unfortunately, the built-in cameras on the iPad 2 are not yet supported, but hopefully this will be rectified in a future update.

Photoshop Express is not the most powerful or feature-rich mobile photo editor, but it's free and offers a good assortment of useful and fun adjustments and is easy to use.

Adobe Photoshop Express in the iTunes App Store

Publisher's Site

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.