We’re watching history in the making here, and not just because of Photoshop, but generally the question of what’s the best way to do a multi-device app is far from answered. Most people seem to think the answer is obvious: That the best way to do cross-device apps is for them to have feature parity from the beginning. But I think that’s wrong, because you can’t do cross-device feature parity without conforming to the limitations of your least capable device, and if you do that, then you lose the most capable device, the desktop, which is, not coincidentally, by far the most important market for powerful apps like Photoshop.
We can see these priorities play out by looking at the market performance of apps that have taken the feature-parity approach: Apple’s iWork suite and Serif’s Affinity products. Those apps don’t have enough users to even be discussed in office suite and creative app market-share surveys. Contrast this with Figma, whose growth is taking off in those same market-share surveys. It’s browser first and has no mobile app, instead it focuses on solving a problem that’s more important to creative professionals: Keeping the work of many different product designers in sync. It’s worth re-iterating Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer are four and five years old respectively, by comparison Adobe InDesign was finishing its victory lap around QuarkXPress when it was just five years old.
The question of what’s the best way to do cross-device apps is still far from answered, and the release of a major app like Photoshop for iPad will help shed some light on the subject.