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Photoshop now online: The best spin on an old idea so far

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Photoshop now online: The best spin on an old idea so far

San Jose (CA) – Adobe has launched a Beta version of Photoshop Express, a new online photo editing, storing and sharing service that is offered as a free version with limited room for pictures. Behind a fancy interface, Adobe has created what easily could be the best version of any online image editing and management service currently available.

For as long as I have been using computers, I have been using Photoshop as key application that I heavily use every day. For more than 15 years, the core Photoshop product never lost its reputation that it is outrageously expensive and a pain to learn, but, in the end, you are getting what you are paying for: The best image editing software on the market for professional users as well as home enthusiasts.   

Despite its professional focus, Photoshop always had a certain appeal to home users and if you had a chance to get your hands on it, you probably did not hesitate. There has been a certain effort to bring down Photoshop to the consumer level with Photoshop Elements, which, however, trailed the general trend of using online features. That trend is now being captured by Adobe with a completely new version of Photoshop: It could be considered the lowest-end version of the product family, but it is one of the very few products of Adobe that don’t need explanation and reveal their purpose in an instant.

 

 

There is no visual similarity with other Photoshop products in Photoshop Express and Adobe apparently has spent quite some time to come up with a simple GUI. The focus is on image browsing, management, storing, editing and sharing. The user interface is organized in a layered approach, providing access to these features from the top layer.  

Users can upload up to 2 GB of images, which is rather limited, given the fact that mainstream flash memory cards offer the same capacity these days. The company does not plan on expanding storage space after the trial period at this time. There has not been a specific announcement of a paid service at this time, but it is safe to assume that 2 GB will be free and everything beyond that will cost you money on a monthly or annual basis. In its terms of use, Adobe cautions users not to use the service “as the only repository or other source for [their] content”.

The image editing capability is stripped down to 17 function total, ranging from basic features such as cropping and red-eye removal, “tuning” features such as adjustment of white balance and sharpness, as well as six effect filters. Compared to your average offline image editing software, the choice of tools is very limited. However, anyone who intends to make some simple adjustments very quickly, may be happy with what is offered. Applying enhancements and effects is as easy as choosing the function and clicking on one out of seven possible results.

Sharing images works through email as well as a xyz.photoshop.com, for which users can sign up free of charge.

There are features that are clearly missing from Photoshop Express at this time, which include a deeper integration with social networks (so far, images can only be imported from sites such as Facebook) service that would actually allow users to have their images printed. But then, the service is in Beta and Adobe said that it will be “soliciting user feedback” and adding features over time.

The idea of creating an online image editing service is not new – the history goes back all the way to 2000, when Corel came up with an online version of PhotoPaint. But if we look at what is available today, Photoshop Express truly looks impressive. The beta of the software is available via “any web browser” at http://www.photoshop.com/express.