Microsoft is rolling out a bunch of new features for Microsoft Designer, its AI-powered graphic design tool, to streamline how users design social media posts. The platform will soon be accessible directly through the Edge web browser and has additional AI-powered creative tools to help it compete with rival graphic design services like Canva.
Microsoft Designer was first unveiled in October last year and includes AI text-to-image features similar to tools like Stable Diffusion. Users can generate images using text prompts, incorporating the results into projects like invitations, greeting cards, and social media posts. Think of it as a combination of DALL-E and Adobe Express, albeit with significant limitations.
Now, Microsoft is rolling out a version of the Designer app for its Edge web browser. Designer in Edge is built natively into the browser’s sidebar so that users can start working on a new project and publish it to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest without switching to a different window. It doesn’t require any downloadable extensions and will provide suggestions to include in your post as you work.
Starting today, Microsoft Designer can now also generate text with AI. Users can select a goal from the drop-down menu to shape the angle of the copy (such as “raise awareness” or “increase sales or bookings”) and type in a quick description of what they need. The app then spits out a selection of hashtags and captions to be used in social media posts and even recommends fonts that could pair well with the project.
Microsoft has also made it easier to resize a design, providing up to 20 different social media layout sizes across Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Elements like text and images will be automatically shifted around to accommodate new layouts, which should reduce the need to fix any formatting issues.
Animation features have also been introduced to jazz up finished designs, allowing users to automatically apply text transitions and animated backgrounds. Microsoft vaguely says the feature uses AI but doesn’t state if the platform is generating animated assets from scratch, which may mean users have to supply their own. We’ve reached out to the company for clarification and will update this story should we hear back.
Additional AI-powered design tools for replacing and expanding images are “coming soon”
There are also some future updates “coming soon” that will further expand on Designer’s AI-powered features. A new Fill tool will allow users to select an area of a design and quickly place an object in that location, while brushing over a person or object with the Erase tool will remove them and generate another image to replace it. Expand Background will fill in any gaps within the foreground of your design, and Replace Background will switch it with an entirely new backdrop. Microsoft hasn’t provided a demonstration to show how these features will actually work, so it’s unclear what role AI is playing. The tech giant has carefully avoided saying that any of these features will generate images from scratch.
Microsoft Designer is still currently in preview and doesn’t have a full release date yet. But the waitlist has been removed, so anyone can now access it and see how it stacks up against competitors like Canva and Adobe Express. As it stands, Microsoft has some catching up to do. Both Canva and Adobe have released their own suite of AI-powered features in recent weeks to make graphic design more accessible to novice users.