Snap, crackle, pop: Adobe’s new app puts Photoshop inside your phone camera, with high-impact effects

November 5, 2019

In a demo of Adobe’s new AI-powered camera app conducted recently by the company’s CTO Anjau Parasnis, daytime photos were made to look like they were shot at night; portraits were transformed into Andy Warhol-style pop art, or were altered by different lighting and shadows; and faces were smeared with virtual paint to show team pride at sporting events.

Indeed, according to a report by Fast Company, the Adobe Photoshop Camera app, which launched via an invite-based preview program on November 4, is the culmination of Adobe’s efforts to bring its Sensei AI services to a consumer product, and it’s part of a broader attempt to expand the company’s software beyond the realm of creative professionals.

Fast Company tech reviewer Jared Newman describes the app as, “… a pretty neat-looking tool for both serious photo editing and silly visual gimmickry.”

Parasnis agrees, commenting, “For the engineer in me, this is super, super cool, Consumers can now express themselves in ways that were just impossible before.”

And while other smartphone makers recently have been leaning more into computer vision to improve photos, Newman says, “Adobe’s tools … seem more extreme than what standard camera apps offer.”

He notes, “While looking through the viewfinder, Photoshop Camera will recognize what’s happening in the scene and highlight appropriate effects in a menu below the shutter button. A landscape shot, for instance, may highlight tools that turn a bland sky into a sunny blue one, or that make the whole image look like an oil painting.

The critical difference: Adobe’s AI can recognize what’s going on in the photo—and itt can apply separate lighting and color effects to different parts of the frame. Parasnis showed Fast Company’s Newman how he could brighten an interior shot of a church in one step without blowing out the outdoor scenery in a distant window; and how changing a city skyline photo from day to night would also affect the lighting on buildings in the forefront.

The goal, Parasnis says, is to automate the kind of effects that used to require pixel-by-pixel editing in Photoshop.

“It’s not that it couldn’t be done, but it was very labor intensive, and required super high-end hardware with super high-end skills,” he says.

It’s worth noting that all of this image processing occurs offline. The company isn’t uploading any images to its servers or collecting data on what users are capturing.

“The core genesis was: Can we unleash creativity for everyone, not just professionals?” Parasnis told Newman. “If we’re going to do it, the camera is the perfect app, because capture is the new create

Still, the business model for this endeavor is murky. Adobe Photoshop Camera will be free.

Parasnis says the main goal with Photoshop Camera is to strengthen the company’s overall ecosystem. With the app, users can export images in Photoshop’s .PSD format for further editing, so there’s a chance some users may graduate to paid Photoshop subscribers.

“These free apps do make the core ecosystem that much more valuable and sticky, and drive more users to it,” Parasnis says.

Research contact: @FastCompany

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