Adobe debuts Photoshop Touch SDK for smartphone and tablet apps

Adobe Systems launched its Photoshop Touch SDK, enabling developers to build Android, iOS and BlackBerry Tablet OS applications that interact with its Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop CS5 Extended solutions. The Photoshop Touch SDK--optimized for both Windows and Mac OS, and available for download here--promises developers the tools to create new apps integrating Photoshop functionality or bolster existing apps with Photoshop capabilities.

Adobe has leveraged the Touch SDK to build three initial Photoshop CS5 companion apps for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad: Adobe Color Lava for Photoshop, Adobe Eazel for Photoshop and Adobe Nav for Photoshop. Adobe Color Lava allows creative professionals to use their fingertips to mix colors on the iPad, creating custom color swatches and themes to transfer back into Photoshop; Adobe Eazel allows digital artists to create realistic paintings with their fingertips, also introducing interaction between "wet" and "dry" paints; and Adobe Nav enables users to select and control Photoshop tools leveraging the iPad as the input surface. The applications are expected to arrive in Apple's App Store early next month, ranging in price from $1.99 to $4.99.

The Photoshop Touch SDK arrives in conjunction with the new Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 product line, promising designers and developers new and expanded tools to target smartphone and tablet platforms. Among the highlights of Creative Suite 5.5, according to Adobe: "Substantive" HTML5 advances in Dreamweaver (including jQuery mobile framework integration for browser-based content and PhoneGap integration for native and mobile application design and development), new tablet and smartphone application development capabilities in Flash Professional CS5.5 and Flash Builder Premium 4.5 (e.g., support for ActionScript and mobile Flex projects, as well as improved designer-developer collaboration tools), enhanced cross-browser testing and mobile emulation and on-device debugging.

The launch of Creative Suite 5.5 also heralds significant changes to Adobe's release strategy: The firm now plans to offer major Creative Suite product introductions at 24-month intervals, boosted by significant mid-cycle releases. Adobe also will offer subscription-based pricing plans, offering access to Adobe Photoshop beginning at $35 per month, Adobe Design Premium CS5.5 starting at $95 per month and Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Master Collection for $129 per month.

Adobe adds that in June it will release Flex framework updates enabling developers to reuse most or all of their code across apps that target multiple platforms. New components will enhance the Spark skinning and component architecture introduced in Flex 4, while Flash Builder 4.5 improvements will accelerate coding for Flex and ActionScript projects via best practice code templates, code completion and code generation features. Adobe notes the new features are targeted at creating standalone installed mobile applications using Adobe AIR, adding that developers can now deploy their apps to the new Amazon Appstore for Android as well as Apple's App Store, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android Market and BlackBerry App World.

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