Instagram and Snapchat have changed the way people look at photo editing. What was once a task limited to those with wildly expensive tools and years of training has become accessible to anyone with a smartphone. These apps and their filters aren't going to replace Photoshop for the pros... but for people just looking to upload a quick selfie to their story, they're Good Enough™.
Adobe realizes this, and now they're looking to flex a bit.
This morning the company announced Photoshop Camera, an AI-driven photo-editing app for iOS and Android. Take a picture (or grab one from your camera roll), and Photoshop Camera will near-instantly analyze it and offer up a drawer full of potential enhancements, from basics like shadows/highlight tweaks, to more complicated things like swapping out the sky in a complicated cityscape.
It recognizes what's in the photo — be it food, people or distant mountains — and bubbles the most relevant "lenses" (think filters) up to the top. All lenses and effects are non-destructive, so you can quickly roll back any changes it makes.
Powering the AI is years and years of data. Adobe has hundreds of millions of photos in its stock photo collection, along with the data on which of these photos people tend to buy and use. Perhaps most importantly, they have the tooling data on how photo editors take a picture and get it from point A to point B.
I saw the app in action last week. While it's tough to gauge how well something like this works in a quick demo, the results I saw were pretty astounding. It took a solid but basic landscape photo and made it look like something out of a nature magazine. It took a photo of food on a table and, in a split second, identified which parts of the photo were food and tweaked just those regions to make the colors shine.
Adobe tells me that it's working with artists — Billy Eilish, for example — to create custom filters and lenses. Adobe CTO Abhay Parasnis also hinted to me at the possibility of limited-edition, region-locked lenses — like, say, those that only appear when you're at a music festival or conference.
One catch: If you want to use the app anytime in 2019, you'll have to get Adobe's thumbs-up. It's going to be in private "preview" mode until sometime in 2020, when it rolls out to everybody. You can sign up for the preview here.