Skip to main content

Photoshop's answer to Dall-E hints at the future of photo editing

This year's Adobe Max 2022 went big on 3D design and mixed-reality headsets, but the AI-generated elephant in the room was the rise of text-to-image generators like Dall-E. How is Adobe planning to respond to these revolutionary tools? Slowly and cautiously, according to the keynote – but a significant feature buried in the new version of Photoshop shows the process has already started. 

Towards the end of the release notes for the latest Photoshop v24.0 is a beta feature called 'Backdrop neural filter'. What does this do? Like Dall-E and Midjourney, it lets you "create a unique backdrop based on a description". You just type in a backdrop, select 'Create', and pick your favorite result.

This is a long way from being Adobe's Dall-E rival, though. It's only available in Photoshop Beta, a test-bed that's separate from the main app, and you're currently restricted to typing in colors to produce different photo backdrops, rather than bizarre concoctions from the darkest corners of your imagination.

But the 'Backdrop neural filter' is clear evidence that Adobe is, however cautiously, dipping its toes further into AI image generation. And its keynote speech at Adobe Max shows that it thinks this frictionless method of creating visual imagery is undoubtedly the future of Photoshop and Lightroom – once it's sorted out the small matter of copyright issues and ethical standards.

Creative co-pilots

Adobe didn't really mention the arrival of the 'Backdrop neural filter' at Adobe Max 2022, but it did lay out where the technology will ultimately end up.

David Wadhwani, Adobe's President of Digital Media Business, effectively said that the company has all the same technology as Dall-E, Stable Diffusion and Midjourney; it's just chosen not to apply it in its apps yet. "Over the last few years, we've been investing more and more in Adobe Sensei, our AI engine. I like to refer to as Sensei as your creative co-pilot," Wadhwani said. 

"We're working on new capabilities that can take our core flagship applications to whole new levels. Imagine being able to ask your creative co-pilot in Photoshop to add an object to the scene simply by describing what you want, or asking your co-pilot to give you an alternative idea based on what you've already built. It's like magic," he added. It certainly goes a few steps further than Photoshop's Sky Replacement tool.

A man standing on stage in front of a version of Photoshop

(Image credit: Adobe)

He said this while standing in front of a mocked-up version of what Photoshop would look like with Dall-E powers (above). The message was clear – Adobe could do text-to-image generation on this scale right now, it's just chosen not to.

But it was Wadhwani's Lightroom example that showed how this kind of technology could be more sensibly integrated into Adobe's creative apps.

"Imagine if you could combine 'gen-tech' with Lightroom. So you can ask Sensei to transform night into day, a sunny photograph into a beautiful sunset. Move shadows or change the weather. This is all possible today with the latest advances in generative technology," he explained, with an unsubtle nod to Adobe's new rivals.

So why hold back while others steal your AI-generated fries? The official reason, and one that certainly has some merit, is that Adobe has a responsibility to make sure this new power isn't wielded recklessly.

"For those of you not familiar with generative AI, it can conjure up an image simply from a text description. And we're really excited about what this can do for all of you but we also want to do this thoughtfully," Wadhwani explained. "We want to do this in a way that protects empowers and champions the needs of creators."

What does this mean in practice? While it's still a little vague, Adobe will moving slower and more carefully than the likes of Dall-E. "Here's our commitment to you," Wadhwani told the Adobe Max audience. "We're approaching generative technology from a creator-centric perspective. We believe AI should enhance human creativity, not replace it, and it should benefit creators not replace them."

This goes some way to explaining why Adobe has, so far, only gone as far as Photoshop's 'Backdrop neural filter'. But that's also only part of the story.

The long game

Despite being the giant incumbent of creative apps, Adobe is undoubtedly still very innovative – just check out some of the projects in Adobe Labs, particularly the ones that can turn real-world objects into 3D digital assets.

But Adobe is also susceptible to being blindsided by fast-moving rivals. The likes of Photoshop and Lightroom have been built as desktop-first tools, which means Canva has stolen a march on it for user-friendly, cloud-based design tools. This is why Adobe splurged $20bn on Figma last month, a figure that's more than Facebook paid for WhatsApp in 2014.

A laptop screen showing various AI generated images using Dall-E 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Is the same thing happening with the likes of Dall-E and Midjourney? Quite possibly, as Microsoft has just announced that Dall-E 2 will be integrated into its new Designer graphic design app (above), which is part of its 365 productivity suite. AI image generators are flying towards the mainstream, in spite of Adobe's misgivings about the speed at which this is happening.

And yet Adobe does also have a point about the ethical issues surrounding this fascinating new technology. There's a considerable copyright cloud growing over the rise of AI image generation – and it's understandable that one of the founders of the Content Authenticity Initiative (ICA), which is designed to tackle deepfakes and other manipulated content, might balk at going all-out on generative AI.

Still, Adobe Max 2022 and the arrival of the 'Backdrop neural filter' show that AI image generation is undoubtedly going to be a big part of Photoshop, Lightroom and photo editing in general – it just might take a while longer to appear in your favorite Adobe app.



Source: TechRadar

Popular posts from this blog

The hidden cost of food delivery

Noah Lichtenstein Contributor Share on Twitter Noah Lichtenstein is the founder and managing partner of Crossover , a diversified private technology fund backed by institutional investors, technology execs and professional athletes and entertainers. More posts by this contributor What Studying Students Teaches Us About Great Apps I’ll admit it: When it comes to food, I’m lazy. There are dozens of great dining options within a few blocks of my home, yet I still end up ordering food through delivery apps four or five times per week. With the growing coronavirus pandemic closing restaurants and consumers self-isolating, it is likely we will see a spike in food delivery much like the 20% jump China reported during the peak of its crisis. With the food delivery sector rocketing toward a projected $365 billion by the end of the decade, I’m clearly not the only one turning to delivery apps even before the pandemic hit. Thanks to technology (and VC funding) we can get a ri

Cyber Monday Canada: Last-minute deals for everyone on your list

Best Cyber Monday Canada deals: Smart Home Audio Phones, Tablets & Accessories Wearables Laptops & PC Components Amazon products Gaming Televisions Cameras Lifestyle & Kitchen Toys & Kids Cyber Monday Canada is here, and retailers are rolling out the red carpet for customers who want to shop for everything from tech to kitchenware to games and everything in between. Unlike years past, Cyber Monday Canada deals look a bit different than normal. Instead of retailers trying to pack their stores with as many shoppers as possible, we're seeing tons of online deals that you can take advantage of from the comfort of your home. We've rounded up our favorites below, so feel free to browse through the best of what Canada Cyber Monday has to offer! This list is being updated with new Cyber Monday deals all the time, so check back often. Spotlight deals It's a Switch Nintendo Switch Fortnite Edition bundle $399.95 at Amazon It's a Switch.

Peloton Reverses Course, Will Continue to Support Apple GymKit

Earlier this week, Peloton said that it would drop support for Apple's GymKit feature that syncs data to the Health app. Customers were unhappy with the decision and complained to the company, leading Peloton to announce a change in plans. Peloton on Thursday said that after listening to member feedback on GymKit, the integration will continue to be offered. Peloton wanted to stop offering GymKit integration in favor of the Peloton One-Tap tracking feature, but GymKit has been a key feature on the $2,500 Bike+ since its 2020 debut , and other Peloton machines since 2022. After listening to Members’ feedback about discontinuing Apple GymKit integration for Bike+, we have decided to continue offering Apple GymKit integration. As a Member-first company, we are always grateful to our Members for sharing their views. — Peloton (@onepeloton) February 16, 2024 The One-Tap tracking app does monitor distance, pace, and heart rate metrics, but only basic information is synced t

Slack’s new integration deal with AWS could also be about tweaking Microsoft

Slack and Amazon announced a big integration late yesterday afternoon. As part of the deal, Slack will use Amazon Chime for its call feature, while reiterating its commitment to use AWS as its preferred cloud provider to run its infrastructure. At the same time, AWS has agreed to use Slack for internal communications. Make no mistake, this is a big deal as the SaaS communications tool increases its ties with AWS, but this agreement could also be about slighting Microsoft and its rival Teams product by making a deal with a cloud rival. In the past Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has had choice words for Microsoft saying the Redmond technology giant sees his company as an “existential threat.” Whether that’s true or not — Teams is but one piece of a huge technology company — it’s impossible not to look at the deal in this context. Aligning more deeply with AWS sends a message to Microsoft, whose Azure infrastructure services compete with AWS. Butterfield didn’t say that of course