It’s officially a Thing: Sooner or later, software companies start selling hardware.
Microsoft and Google sell tablets, Amazon and Google sell phones. Evernote sells a scanner. Those are just a few examples. What’s next — Adobe selling hardware?
Today, Adobe began selling an intriguing, good-looking, aluminum-clad pair of digital drawing tools for the iPad, called Ink and Slide ($200 for the pair, in a handsome box). But we’ll get to that.
Sketch and Line
To understand the new hardware, you first have to meet the new software: two free iPad apps called Sketch and Line.
They’re both drawing apps, for use with your finger or a stylus. They both offer the same set of tools — Pencil, Pen, Brush, Marker, and Eraser — and the same palettes of color schemes.
Each lets you import a photo, either from your iPad or from your Adobe (Creative Cloud) account, and either dress it up or trace it; once you’ve traced it, you can get rid of the original photo, and nobody will ever know you cheated. Here’s a Tesla trace in Adobe Line that took me about 15 seconds to do:
Both apps use the same wonderful Undo/Redo gestures: Swipe leftward with two fingers to undo the last line you drew, or rightward to reinstate it. These gestures quickly become every bit as useful as the drawing tools, because they remove the penalty for experimentation.
If you tap with three fingers, you also get the History slider, a scroll bar at the top of the screen that can rapidly rewind your drawing, line by line, all the way back to the blank canvas, depending on how fast and far you slide your fingers to the left.
Two many apps
There’s a conceptual confusion here, though. Why are there two different apps? Which would you use when?