Web Apps

Adobe Unleashes Photoshop Free-for-All

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what does it cost to edit the picture with Photoshop? As of right now, the only cost is Internet access with a modern Web browser.

Adobe Systems has launched an online photo editing tool that’s free to anyone who wants to edit, store, sort and show off their digital photos — up to 2 GB worth.

The product is Photoshop Express, and it’s currently available in beta form. Express borrows some of the technology behind Adobe’s well-respected and widely used professional-grade photo editing solution, Photoshop CS3, and it delivers them via a Web browser through a rich Internet application (RIA) that was built using Flex. Flex is Adobe’s free, open source framework for building RIAs.

During the beta period, Adobe says it will solicit feedback on product features and functionality and evolve the solution over time. The premise behind it all, noted Doug Mack, vice president of Consumer and Hosted Solutions at Adobe, is to provide “a convenient, single destination where you can store, edit and share photos whether you’re at home, school or on the road.”

Online Tooling

Photoshop Express lets users upload photos via a Web browser and then edit them with a set of standard tools for removing blemishes and red-eye, converting to black and white, cropping and resizing. In addition, the application lets users add special effects, Adobe said, like Pop Color, which selects an object in an image, mutes the background color of the photo and lets the user swap the object’s color so it jumps off the page.

The Sketch effect, for example, turns photos into drawings, while the Distort feature lets users distort facial features or objects within the images for a comical or artistic effect.

All About Sharing

Photoshop Express also lets users have an online gallery that’s hosted by Adobe. It lets users share and show off their photos and creations, as well as create animated slide shows.

Photoshop Express works with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. In addition to an Internet connection, the only other key requirement for it all is an up-to-date version of Flash Player 9, which is also free. In beta form, Express will be available only in English to U.S. residents, though Adobe said it will provide availability in other languages and countries in the future.

What’s Next?

With a free editing tool now available online, the obvious question is, what’s next? Will Adobe, which also sells a consumer-focused Photoshop Elements editing application, offer additional features, such as extra storage capacity for a charge?

“Adobe currently plans to keep Photoshop Express free,” Anne Yeh, a spokesperson for Adobe, told TechNewsWorld, though she did note that, “Eventually, additional features and storage will be available on a subscription basis.”

While there is some overlap in functionality, Yeh also noted, the different applications in Adobe’s Photoshop family are designed specifically for the needs of different audiences.

“Unlike Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Express beta is entirely Web-enabled,” she noted. “It’s free and easy to use, allowing today’s connected generation to get in, make quick edits, and get out again, fixing and enhancing photos quickly and sharing them, including showing [them] off on their favorite social networking site’s blogs, and the Photoshop Express Album.”

Photoshop Elements 6 is designed more for the hobbyist photographer, she said.

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