Adobe is launching a free AI-powered Photoshop Camera app, available now to a select group of users as a limited preview for iOS and Android devices. The camera uses Adobe’s artificial intelligence platform, Sensei, to recognize the subject in photos — whether it’s a selfie, landscape, or food — and automatically suggest which image filters to apply. Filters can be used on the screen in real time, or applied to images taken from the camera roll. The app will feature filters from select artists, and users in the limited preview will be able to create their own.
Adobe CTO Abhay Parasnis told The Verge that while powerful apps like Photoshop and Lightroom exist, users have to first get over the learning curve of photo editing. Photoshop Camera aims to simplify this task, automatically making adjustments in the viewfinder based on the technical content of the photo like dynamic range, tonality, and scene type — so that everyone, not just professionals, can make the right edits to their photos. That’s not to say that the app doesn’t offer manual image adjustment features for users to fine-tune photos and make nondestructive edits — there’s a settings tab that lets users adjust details like shadows, highlights, vibrance, and exposure.
“We built Photoshop Camera as a Sensei-first app on our journey to expand our focus to deliver creative tools for everyone,” Parasnis writes in a blog post announcing the app.
At launch, Photoshop Camera will feature a curated selection of lenses created by artists and influencers, and will also be taking sign-ups for artists to create custom lenses for it (Billie Eilish is an early partner, with a limited-edition lens). Similar to how Facebook or Instagram Stories has its proprietary software Spark AR to create face filters, users can create lenses for Photoshop Camera using Photoshop. The creation process should be a lot simpler, though, as the filters are layered PSDs that can also be adjusted directly in the app.
Referencing the latest camera improvements on new flagship phones like the iPhone 11 Pro and Pixel 4, Parasnis says, “I would say the biggest platform companies have done a great job in pushing the limits on hardware. But we think we can do way better on software.” The goal isn’t to replace the default phone camera, but to add more “software magic” that’s unique to Adobe. That’s where Photoshop comes in.
The name “Photoshop Camera” is supposed to speak to how powerful Adobe wants this app to be. “When we put the word ‘Photoshop,’ that is a very high order for us. We can’t just call it that willy-nilly, especially when there are hundreds of camera apps already in the app store,” Parasnis says.
The most impressive part of the app, the auto-masking feature, echos the new object selection tool introduced to Photoshop today, which uses Sensei to automatically make a clean selection around the subject. Once the AI has pinpointed the subject, adjustments like a bokeh effect can be applied around them. You can see in the GIF above how the app can detect the mountain range and apply filters that can change the sky.
Adobe is aware of the consequences of unleashing powerful AI tools that can manipulate reality like in the example above, and says it will be announcing new initiatives to address content authenticity at its Max design conference. Back in June, the company shared new research in collaboration with UC Berkeley to create a tool that uses machine learning to detect when images have been manipulated. The app also keeps user privacy in mind and will only store photos and run AI models locally on the device.
Users who want to try out the app and create lenses can sign up for the limited preview here. Adobe is aiming for an official launch in early 2020.