A Theory of Why Adobe Nixed Device Preview in the Newest Photoshop CC 2018 Update

by Kat Menze

October 30, 2017 at 1:07 pm

If you are like me and likely many many other pissed off designers, you’ve probably noticed that the newest version of Photoshop (CC 2018) no longer has the device preview capabilities. For those who are not familiar with this beautiful gift that Adobe ruthlessly ripped out of our hands, it is a quick and easy way to design for mobile in Photoshop. You download an app on your phone, and it syncs with Photoshop so you can preview how the mobile design will look and feel as you tweak your work in real time.

So why, oh WHY, Adobe, did you remove a feature that was already working and working beautifully??

This designer has a theory.

Photoshop is very complex and is a very difficult program for brand new users to pick up and run without tutorials or classes. The fallout from this fact is that young fledgeling designers seek more user-friendly alternatives instead of facing the daunting task of learning a program before diving into their designs.

It’s not a secret that Adobe has been losing customers to cheaper and more user-friendly apps such as Sketch or InVision. To answer this new UX prototyping revolution, Adobe created Adobe XD, an app that is (arguably) as user-friendly as the aforementioned apps and is included in a Creative Cloud subscription. After the 2018 update, however, Adobe XD graduated from its previous beta release life cycle. Did I forget to mention that Adobe XD also offers a device preview?

I’m sure by now, sagacious reader, you’ve probably picked up on the stage that I am setting. I can just picture Adobe executives sitting in a boardroom with a chart showing bottoming numbers and severely stressed out professionals sitting around a table pulling their hair out. My mental picture may or may not be influenced by my hours and hours of sifting through stock photography.

“What should we do? Photoshop is what our customers use to design high fidelity websites and mobile apps! How do we keep them from leaving?!” shouts the business professional in a sweater vest with his shirt sleeves rolled up.

“I know what to do!” interjects the woman in the tasteful but approachable business suit, “We make our own user-friendly prototyping program and include it in the Creative Suite.”

“That’s a great idea, Nancy, but how do we ensure our current users will start using this new program to design mobile apps?” asks the older gentleman as he leans forward and steeples his fingers.

“I’ve got it,” hisses the man in the dark cloak and shaded face in the corner whom no one remembered being there earlier, “we remove the device preview feature in Photoshop. Designers will be forced to use our new program if they can’t quickly preview their mobile designs as they work.”

“Brilliant. An airtight solution, make it so!”

I’d like to reiterate that this is all a theory and is based wholly on conjecture (except for the shadowy hooded figure in the boardroom, I’m pretty sure he’s real). Either way, it’s a bit of a dick move, Adobe. Without warning, you remove a tool that is an essential and pivotal tool for many designer’s workflows. Yes, there are other device preview apps available in the app store such as Skala View but it hasn’t been updated in two years. Why bother when Photoshop had its own baked-in device preview?

Are you also a pissed off designer? Do you disagree with me? Give me your point of view in the comments below.

October 30, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Kat Menze

Kat is a designer and lover of type, aesthetics, color, and the art of combining form and function beautifully. This UI/UX specialist is always hungry to discover the latest and greatest digital design trends. When she’s not playing sand volleyball, she’s out on the side of a mountain armed with her bike and a camelback.

  • MW van der Walt

    Yup, I’m pissed off as well. I would have switched to Sketch App a long time ago, but alas. I work on PC and not a Mac so for now it’s the badly made Adobe Xd. But there is light in the tunnel. InVision Studio. Hurah! Hopefully it will be the Adobe Xd we deserve but never received.

    • Kat

      Agreed, it looks really promising!