Photoshop for iPad now has some useful new retouching tools, such as the ‘Magic Wand,’ that bring it closer to the desktop version of the editing app.

Photoshop for iPad’s August update (version 2.7) adds the ability to quickly select parts of your image using the ‘Magic Wand’ tool, which is a popular feature of the desktop app.

Adobe admits that the ‘Magic Wand’ has been a “highly requested” feature for the iPad version of Photoshop since its release in November 2019, so it’s great to see it finally added. The tool is especially useful if you need to quickly remove an object from a background or edit a brightly colored section of an image.

The ‘Magic Wand’ tool joins a more powerful version of the ‘Healing Brush’ in Photoshop for iPad, which was released in June (version 2.6 update). The ‘Healing Brush’ can now be used to paint over areas using sampled pixels – in other words, existing parts of an image that you want to replicate when painting over an imperfection.

The ability to ‘project your canvas’ is another feature added to Photoshop for iPad in the August (version 2.7) update. Connect your iPad to an external display, such as a monitor or TV, using HDMI or USB-C, and it will show your real-time app activity (minus the Photoshop UI) on the larger screen.

This feature, which we’ve already seen on rival apps like Procreate, could be useful for anyone who teaches Photoshop for iPad.

Photoshop for iPad isn’t the only app that’s been updated for August. The desktop version of the app (version 22.5) now has an improved ‘Sly Replacement’ feature, which allows you to automatically replace a drab sky in your photo with a more exciting one.

Because of the integration with the Adobe Discover community of photographers and artists, the new version now has more sky presets to choose from. These August updates to Photoshop for iPad are consistent with Adobe’s approach to the app – small, incremental changes that bring the tablet version a few inches closer to the desktop counterpart. However, there is still a long way to go, and rivals such as Affinity Photo and Procreate may still provide better value.

The ‘Magic Wand’ and ‘project your canvas’ tools aren’t groundbreaking in and of themselves, but they are the sixth incremental update to Photoshop for iPad this year. In June, we received updates to the ‘Healing Brush,’ as well as the long-awaited ability to import custom brushes into the app, while earlier in the year, the emphasis was on improving the cloud experience.

However, Adobe’s decision to create a ‘full’ version of Photoshop for the iPad, based on the same code-base as the desktop version, has had a double-edged effect. Its user interface is familiar to Photoshop veterans, but the technical challenge of porting such a powerful app to the iPad has resulted in a fairly slow rollout of features – which is why it’s only recently received the ‘Magic Wand.’

Alternatives such as Procreate (which excels at illustration) and Affinity Photo (currently at the top of our list of the best photo editing apps) are appealing because they feel more at home on the iPad and are available as one-time purchases rather than Creative Cloud subscriptions.

Photoshop regulars will naturally feel more at ease with the Photoshop for iPad interface, and it is gradually becoming a powerful standalone tool for professionals. However, if you’re looking for an image editing tool with desktop power and aren’t completely immersed in the Adobe world, Affinity Photo (US$19.99/£19.99/AU$30.99) may be the better choice – at least until Adobe rolls out a few more updates to Photoshop for iPad.