September 29, 2015

Pixelmator for iOS 9 with 8K Image Support

A few days ago, we released a very cool update to Pixelmator for iOS with some amazing new features. And here is an in-depth overview of the key enhancements you get with the new Pixelmator version and a glimpse into why exactly we made all of these changes.

  • iOS 9Pixelmator now works great on the new iOS 9.

  • MultitaskingMultitasking on iPad via Split View and Slide Over.

  • 8K SupportOpen and edit images in stunning 8K resolution.

iOS 9 Support

Simply put, Pixelmator now works great on iOS 9. For those of you who enjoy digging deeper, we’ve put together some more details on the main new features. Read on.

Open in Place

With the Open in Place feature, you can now open a Pixelmator image from anywhere you want to (for example, from iCloud Drive), edit your image in Pixelmator, and save the changes you’ve made back onto the same document. This means you can have all of your most recent edits in the same document.

This might not seem like such a big deal, but it is. Previously, when you opened an image from iCloud Drive, Pixelmator had to duplicate this document and save its copy in the Pixelmator image gallery, which you would then edit (Pixelmator just didn’t have another choice). This meant that once you edited and saved your image, the original document in your iCloud Drive was not changed.

And what if you really needed to have the edited image in your iCloud Drive? In this case, you would have to “Save a Copy” of your edited document back to your iCloud Drive. The worst part was that you had to repeat the same process every single time you wanted to edit an image and wanted to be able to find your most recent edits in the same place. Every time.

The new iOS 9 Open in Place feature allowed us to simplify this process. Now, when you open a document from another location (again, let’s take iCloud Drive as an example), instead of making a copy, Pixelmator gallery creates an alias for the exact same document. Therefore, you can open an image from another location, edit it in Pixelmator, and then save your changes right onto the same document in the exact place you opened it from. How much simpler is that?

Save to Photos

The Save to Photos feature is quite similar. It helps you to get rid of all of the duplicating inconvenience when editing images from your Photos app. You can now open an image from Photos, edit it in Pixelmator, and save it back onto the same image. Just a much more clever way to edit your photos.

Copy Image

We’ve also added a feature that improves the ease of sharing your images—the ability to quickly copy the entire image composition to Clipboard.

Previously, you could copy any single layer of your image with just a few taps. You still have that capability. Yet if you wanted to share your entire image composition—for example, a photo with text and shapes—there was no really easy way to do this. You could either merge all of your image layers and then make a copy, or you could export your image into a different file format (for example, PNG) and share it afterward. Not the most efficient workflow.

What we did in Pixelmator 2.1 for iOS is we’ve added a simple feature that allows you to copy your entire image composition, so now it’s way easier to copy and paste the whole image into a text message, an email, or a social channel.

San Francisco

Most of you already know that we focus a lot of attention on making Pixelmator as native to iOS users as possible, and we definitely couldn’t have missed the new iOS 9 default font. So once you upgrade your app, take a few moments to appreciate how much more beautiful yet perfectly native Pixelmator looks with the new and totally modern San Francisco user interface font.

Multitasking on iPad

We also added Multitasking on iPad with the Split View, Slide Over, and Picture in Picture features, which allow you to use Pixelmator for iPad and any other app at the same time.

Slide Over

For example, you’re editing your image in Pixelmator and receive a text message from your friend. Without closing Pixelmator, you open your Messages app with literally a single swipe, quickly respond, and then slide the app away to get back to editing your image. It’s a really fast way to do side tasks without interrupting your workflow.

Split View

You can also use Split View and work with Pixelmator and any other app side by side, both at the same time. For example, you can work on an image you’re going to use in your presentation and have your Keynote slides open at the same time. So you can make just the right adjustments and quickly paste your image into Keynote (the new Copy Image feature makes this really easy to do).

One of the most obvious and most useful ways you can use Split View together with Pixelmator is to search for images in Safari, which makes it even easier to add new elements to your composition.

Picture in Picture

What’s more, with Picture in Picture, you can edit your image while watching a video (for example, an image-editing tutorial or something that inspires you) or while video chatting.

Adding Multitasking support can be quite a burden. If an app is not fluid (that is, not able to automatically adapt to different environments), you have to rethink the way it looks on every Multitasking layout individually. That’s almost the same as adapting every menu item, every button, and every popover for six new devices.


Yet in some cases, it might not be that hard.

The Pixelmator user interface is based on Apple’s Auto Layout technology, so it looked good on all Multitasking layouts almost automatically. All we needed to do was to make some minor design adjustments in the most unusual, tall “second app” layouts.

By the way, we have a few more layouts ready for the near future (any ideas for which new device?)

Slide Over and Picture in Picture features are available on iPad Air and later, as well as on iPad mini 2 and later. Split View is available on iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 4.

8K Image Support

This one is our favorite. Just a while back, Pixelmator allowed you to open and edit images of up to 4K resolution. That’s not too bad, yet we always craved to let you open really large, professional-quality images. It’s just what we thought was the right thing to do. In fact, we’ve been trying to find a way to do this for more than six months!

We’ve spent most of our time experimenting with the so-called Tiles support. We tried to divide a large image into many smaller images (something like stitching separate patches) so your iOS would understand them as separate images and would not apply the size constraint.

Unfortunately, that did not work quite so well for us. After many months, we still could not use this approach with many of our image editing features (for example, Effects). But then we got our hands on iOS 9.

A while back, one of our developers was digging really deep into the new iOS, exploring everything we could use to enhance Pixelmator. He also tried to run some tasks with large textures (translation for humans: large images). And it worked! After six months of hard work and hundreds of attempts to create a unique solution, what worked was our persistence and, well, opening a large image.

It appears that the optimizations we had implemented by that time were more than enough to support the new resolution limit that comes with iOS 9 on all 64-bit devices.

It’s hard to imagine the atmosphere that was here in our office once we ran some more tests and were absolutely sure that Pixelmator can now let you open and edit really—truly—large images! Right in Pixelmator, on your iPad, iPhone, or even on your iPod, if you wish.

This means you can now use a professional SLR camera to take photos of up to 50 megapixels, instantly upload them onto your iOS device, and use pro-grade Pixelmator tools to instantly edit and share them.

We really wanted to try out the enhanced Pixelmator, so this summer, we worked with a passionate mountaineer-photographer, Saulius Damulevicius. Saulius had just come back from an amazing expedition to Chan Tengri (7439 m.), his personal highest peak. He was documenting his entire journey with a professional mirrorless system camera and used Pixelmator on his iPhone to process and share his photos every time he went back to the base camp. He gave us some amazing feedback and some stunning images, too.

And that’s what 8K image support ultimately is—the possibility of editing your professional images right when and where you need to, no matter whether you use your iPhone or a professional camera. You can.

8K images are supported on iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4, and iPod touch 6th generation.

All of these features make us think of how far mobile image editing has already gone and how much there’s yet to be done. Following along these lines, we’re super excited about the new iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and the next-generation technologies that come with them.

It all obliges our team to constantly innovate and focus on creating next-generation, professional, powerful image editing tools. This provides a clear focus for the future of both Pixelmator for iOS and Pixelmator for Mac.

Many huge plans ahead. So stay tuned.


  • Brian Young

    Thank you all, for all you do, to make a great and reasonably-priced product. The amount of effort, and the fairness of expense, are not lost on me.

  • Hae

    How many layers supported (exclude background) in iPhone 5s for maximum resolution 8192 x 8192?
    Is it possible to draw in canvas size 8K?
    Thank you.

  • Ben

    It is so refreshing that your company keeps on with frequent updates and innovation without making huge sacrifices in quality or user experience. Most companies do not seem to be able to do it.

    I just started working on my first 8K image on my new iPad mini 4. I cannot yet give it a really thorough review, but between 8K support and using Split View, I really hope that Pixelmator on iOS takes over most of my workflow.

  • Terry

    “It is so refreshing that your company keeps on with frequent updates and innovation…”

    For iOS maybe. As far as Mac OS goes “frequent updates and innovation” don’t seem to be a priority any longer for the Pixelmator staff.

  • Justin

    I agree with Terry, Pixelmator has clearly made the iOS app a priority (and the apps are beautiful). Mean while, other developers are creating photo editing apps for Mac OS (like Affinity Photo) that have much more professional features and improved workflows. In fact, I think Affinity was monitoring the Pixelmator forum because they included the features that Pixelmator users have been begging for, for YEARS!!!

    Now their market share in the Mac OS space is being eroded. If they wait too long, people are going to jump ship and never look back. COME ON PIXELMATOR TEAM WE BELIEVE IN YOU!!!