Adobe has started testing a free-to-use version of Photoshop on the web and plans to open the service up to everyone as a way to introduce more users to the app.
The company is now testing the free version in Canada, where users are able to access Photoshop on the web through a free Adobe account. Adobe describes the service as “freemium” and eventually plans to gate off some features that will be exclusive to paying subscribers. Enough tools will be freely available to perform what Adobe considers to be Photoshop’s core functions.
“We want to make [Photoshop] more accessible and easier for more people to try it out and experience the product,” says Maria Yap, Adobe’s VP of digital imaging.
Adobe first released its web version of Photoshop in October, delivering a simplified version of the app that could be used to handle basic edits. Layers and core editing tools made the jump, but the service didn’t come anywhere close to including the app’s full breadth of features. Instead, Adobe framed it primarily as a collaboration tool — a way for an artist to share an image with others and have them jump in, leave some annotations and make a couple small tweaks, and hand it back over.
In the months since, Adobe has made a handful of updates to the service, and it’s also started to open it up beyond collaboration use cases. Before, someone had to share a document to the web from the desktop app, but now, any Photoshop subscriber can log in and start a new document straight from the web.
Adobe’s goal is to use the web version of Photoshop to make the app more accessible and potentially hook users who’ll want to pay for the full version down the road. The company has taken a similar route with a number of its mobile apps, including Fresco and Express. The web version of Photoshop is a particularly important offering since it opens one of the company’s most powerful tools up to Chromebooks, which are widely used in schools.
“I want to see Photoshop meet users where they’re at now,” Yap says. “You don’t need a high-end machine to come into Photoshop.”
Adobe didn’t provide a timeline on when the freemium version would launch more widely. In the meantime, the company is continuing to update Photoshop for web with more tools, including refine edge, curves, the dodge and burn tools, and the ability to convert Smart Objects. The web version is also getting mobile support for reviewing and commenting on images.
Adobe also previewed a new AI-powered Neural Filter today that’s coming to Photoshop proper. The new “photo restoration” filter can take a beaten-up yellowed photo and automatically clean up scratches and restore some of its color. When combined with Adobe’s existing colorize filter for adding color to black-and-white photos, the two filters can quickly bring an old photo to life, even if the end result looks a bit cartoony.