For years, Pixelmator has been the go-to Photoshop alternative on the Mac for people who want an app with all the polish of an Adobe product, without actually letting Adobe sink their claws into them. Now, it’s available on the iPad, finally allowing designers and artists on the go to “pixelmate” to their heart’s content.
First shown onstage last week at Apple’s iPad event, Pixelmator is a non-destructive (think: reversible) photo editing app that has been built from the ground up to harness the full power of the iPad’s hardware and software. That means that editing images in Pixelmator is super fast, at least performance-wise. But can the UI keep up?
On the Mac, Pixelmator can be something of an overwhelming experience in which users can easily get lost in a funhouse of different work panels. But on the iPad, editing a photo in Pixelmator a much more streamlined affair. You work in one mode at a time, either adding effects to an image, adjusting its colors, using painting tools, or retouching it. It’s a very slick and streamlined UI experience. It takes much of its UI inspiration from Apple’s iWork suite of apps, meaning that if you’re already familiar with the workflow of Pages or Keynote on the iPad, you’re already halfway towards editing images on your iPad.
When you talk about Pixelmator, the elephant in the room is always Adobe Photoshop. Adobe’s Photoshop apps for the iPad are already excellent, and can do much and more of what Pixelmator can do. But Pixelmator has always tried to set itself apart from Adobe in two key ways: an easier-to-use interface for amateurs, and a much cheaper price for everyone. That’s still true. Not only is Pixelmator for iPad half as expensive as Photoshop Touch, but in my limited testing, I thought the interface was easier to use too.
Pixelmator for iPad can be purchases on the iTunes App Store for just $5.