Photoshop for iPad gains ‘Select Subject’ feature

Adobe’s Photoshop on the iPad got off to a rocky start that doesn’t seem to have left fans of the desktop version very happy, but the company looks intent on incorporating user feedback and releasing meaningful feature updates on a timely basis. Like today, for instance, it’s adding “Select Subject” to the iPad version of Photoshop, which is a feature that should make working with photos and compositions on the Apple tablet much, much easier and more flexible.

Select Subject is a feature Adobe introduced to the desktop version last year that offers one-tap selection of the subject of your image, as determined by Adobe’s Sensei AI engine, to take all the manual work out of the process. This is one of the Photoshop tasks that people are used to doing manually using either pen input and freehand selection, or a combination of the Magic Wand, lasso and polygonal selection tools, all of which involve considerably more work.

Adobe says the 2019 version of Select Subject on iPad and on desktop provides better selection edges and works almost instantly, even on iOS. Behind the scenes, the feature is actually a bunch of different machine learning algorithms working together to make the selection, refine the selection, de-artifact the edge and more. The end result is that you can get a very usable subject cut out that allows you to easily recompose, or independently edit subject and background very quickly, and with very little, if any, manual refinement required.

You’ll still get better, cleaner results with defined, continuous edges and high-contrast backgrounds, but Adobe says it’s working to improve Select Subject performance around things like hair and fur.

Meanwhile, Adobe also started rolling out improvements for its cloud documents feature, which was introduced alongside the public release of Photoshop for iPad and lets you work with PSDs across platforms via shared cloud-based storage. They’ve also tweaked the user interface with improvements to things like text entry and layer management.

Adobe still has a lot to do to make a convincing argument that it regards Photoshop for iPad as a flagship product on par with the desktop version, but these are steps in the right direction, and it looks like 2020 should bring a host of additional refinements and improvements, along with an iPad version of Illustrator, and more.