Adobe Photoshop is coming to the iPad.

Not the truncated version, a light version that lets you retouch a photo on the fly. Not a second display that helps you sketch out ideas for the "real" app.

At a conference this week, Adobe announced that the full version of Photoshop--with all of the most powerful photo editing features--will come out next year. Photoshop CC 2019 will let you retouch photos, for sure. It will also include features for adjusting exposure, adding graphics, working in layers, and just about everything else you can do on the desktop.

This will be a huge milestone for computing, because it's the first time a desktop app I use almost every day like Photoshop will debut on a mobile device like the iPad. And, it's a sign of things to come. There's a confluence happening between mobile and desktop unlike anything we've seen before, such that the phone in your pocket or a tablet like the iPad will be as powerful, fast, and useful as any laptop or desktop.

We still have quite a few other factors to resolve, such as how to type fast enough on an iPad or a phone, but that could be solved by dictation that actually works.

Most importantly, the gap is narrowing.

The reason this is such a big announcement is that Photoshop is really one of the last apps I use on a laptop, the one that keeps me from switching over to an iPad for many computing tasks. I've been taking an iPad on flights for some time, typing directly on the screen or with an add-on keyboard. Now that I've almost fully broken away from the desktop using a browser for Google Docs and just about every other activity, the last important app for me is Adobe Photoshop. Once it runs on an iPad, there's little reason to bother with a laptop for me all day, because everything I do won't be bound to the desktop.

I'm in good company. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, recently revealed that he doesn't use a laptop. It's a sign of how mobile computing is trumping the desktop bound.

And, it's good timing. Apple is holding an event on October 30 where the tech giant will likely announce an even more powerful iPad Pro.

Some might argue there's a long way to go still. (The truth is, I'm still typing on a laptop right now.) If you do any video editing or programming, you know you still need a powerful laptop or desktop. And, gaming on a PC is far more advanced. I'm not as deeply involved with either of those use cases anymore. Many users have moved over to games like Fortnite, which runs fine on a mobile device. High-end functions still demand a high-end computer. And, most of us are just more comfortable on a desktop or laptop at work.

Or are we? More and more, I see people using an iPad or a phone all day, or at least a Microsoft Surface tablet with a real keyboard. They seem to be getting along just fine communicating about projects over Slack, using project management tools that are entirely mobile now, and using bots like the Google Assistant to record reminders. I've seen some colleagues who don't ever sit at a desktop computer all day long.

Granted, these are not people who do video editing chores, and they might not even benefit from Photoshop running on an iPad. What I'm seeing, though, is that the other shoe has dropped. The first shoe was the fact that mobile gadgets run plenty fast for the majority of users.This second shoe is a move to making devices like the iPad legitimate desktop replacements. Gen Z workers in particular are not into laptops anymore.

It's the last sign that there's even a reason to bring a laptop on a flight, or use one when you need to move around the office and go to meetings, or even when you are at your desk and need to answer email. It's a moment in time I've been predicting for years.

Do you agree? Are you holding on to your laptop until the bitter end?

Post on my Twitter feed if you have thoughts about whether this might be the biggest announcement of the year so far. Now, we'll see if the app actually debuts soon.

Published on: Oct 19, 2018
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