March 16, 2011

Photoshop Express 2.0: Powerful noise reduction on iOS

After more than 20 million downloads, the free Photoshop Express app has added its first paid features. As PM Jordan Davis explains, Adobe Camera Pack in Photoshop Express 2.0 for iOS* adds three new features:

  • Reduce Noise: Even the best phone cameras can introduce small amounts of grain and speckling—called noise—into images. The Reduce Noise feature quickly smooths out those flaws to improve your photos. (See screenshot with aggressive settings applied.)
  • Self Timer: Set a camera timer to 3- or 10-second intervals before the photo is snapped. Now you can be in the picture too!
  • Auto Review: Use the Auto Review mode to make sure you get a good shot and delete it if you don’t. Auto Review gives you a quick look at your picture before the action passes you by.

The app remains free, and the Camera Pack is a $3.99 in-app purchase.

The noise reduction code is based on the outstanding technology introduced in Lightroom 3/Photoshop CS5.  Squeezing very computationally intensive algorithms to run well on handheld processors was no easy feat, and I think you’ll be pleased with the speed & quality of the results.  We look forward to hearing your feedback.

* Photoshop Express for Android has not yet been updated

Posted by John Nack at 1:32 PM on March 16, 2011

Comments

  • Jack Warner — 2:33 PM on March 16, 2011

    What’s the time frame for updating Android? I hate that Android is always second.

    [I don’t have schedule info to share, but broadly speaking, we don’t like a disconnect in schedules & capabilities, either. Right now mobile platforms are young, and cross-platform tooling & techniques are immature. It makes me think of the early days of Creative Suite apps, when Photoshop Mac & Photoshop Windows were different apps with different feature sets, development teams, etc. That situation eventually corrected itself, and I think the same will happen in the mobile space. –J.]

  • Rob — 2:59 PM on March 16, 2011

    Thanks to Adobe for the upgrade to the free app. It’s interesting how one’s frame of reference changes. In the context of Adobe’s multi-hundred dollar programs, four dollars for the enhancement seems trivial. But in the context of apps that are largely free or just a dollar or two, four dollars seems very aggressively priced, especially since the principal useful feature of the paid enhancement is the noise reduction and in the absence of any ability to try out the feature, one has to take on faith how valuable that will be.

    One feature Adobe might think about adding in the future is HDR Pro’s ability to take and merge two images at different light levels. This compensates nicely for the limited dynamic range of the smartphone cameras. The result isn’t the highly stylized look that most HDR photos have but simply a better looking regular image.

  • Vincent — 3:25 PM on March 16, 2011

    Although I didn’t try this paying feature, good work on integrating the noise reduction technology in the PS Express app.

    Here’s a feature suggestion :

    Add a value slider for the Strength/Opacity of the Tint effect. Let’s say I’d like to add a Tint to one of my picture… I definitely don’t want it to turn totally blue. I just want to add a slight tint of blue. I could select a 10% Strength/Opacity after picking the colour. I really think this is a missing in the app right now.

    Keep up the nice work! Looking forward to trying upcoming updates.

  • John Hoffman — 8:32 PM on March 16, 2011

    I’m curious why Adobe is spending so much time and effort providing free and minimally priced applications for mobile devices when it charges hundreds of dollars for its PC applications.

    I am constantly amazed by the capabilities in Photoshop and other Adobe apps but they ARE expensive. Are the PC user subsidizing the users of mobile devices? If so, why aren’t the users of mobile devices asked to pay their share of development costs?

    • Mark — 3:49 PM on March 17, 2011

      Yep. Companies that have a monopoly on a product or on a quality niche can indulge in dubious marketing games with their customers’ money. But I think this generates a lack of affection, resentment or even hatred among customers and the first chance the customers get they will migrate to products from other companies.

      • imajez — 5:39 PM on March 17, 2011

        Mark – So is a product that is better quality than it’s competitors playing dubious marketing if it prices its prices are higher than it’s poorer quality rivals. There’s lots of alternatives to Photoshop, including free programmes like the Gimp, yet people still pay for PS. You can even get PS Elements which does most of what PS does at a fraction of the price and LR serves most photographers’s needs far better than PS does and again is much cheaper, so would Adobe be one of those dubious companies with regard to PS’s pricing.

        I’d say Quark and Avid were good examples of complacent companies that charged over the odds for their half baked products and then got slammed when much better and cheaper alternatives appeared – by InDesign and Final Cut respectively.

    • imajez — 5:29 PM on March 17, 2011

      Apps on mobiles are rarely anything other than free or cheap. So that is seen as the going rate. Look how much a fully featured programme such as Garageband costs as an app.
      Mind you I always wondered if desktop software was much cheaper, if you’d you’d get less piracy and more sales. Assuming the software was any good that is.

  • Timothy — 8:01 AM on March 17, 2011

    Nice idea. Maybe I’m missing something, but there is no way to zoom in when editing? Noise reduction seems kind of useless when you can’t zoom in to see the actual noise reduction without exiting editing mode.

  • melgross — 8:41 AM on March 17, 2011

    My main concern for any mobile photo editing app is the ability to edit undersized RAW images. Without that ability, no matter how nice an app is, it’s still little more than a fun toy. We know that RAW images can be manipulated a certain amount at least. The question is by how much?

    • melgross — 8:42 AM on March 17, 2011

      oops! That should have read – un-resized, not undersized.

  • Rob Prins — 1:03 PM on March 17, 2011

    Noise reduction is a great idea and very useful, but I think $3.99 is way too much for an in-app purchase. I’m not sure why Adobe doesn’t just charge .99 or 1.99 for the app, and keep updating it with new and improved features like everyone else does.

  • Heitor Jobim — 6:07 PM on March 17, 2011

    That situation eventually corrected itself, and I think the same will happen in the mobile space.

    I wouldn’t put it this way. The situation didn’t correct itself.
    Adobe made a conscious business decision (with its pros and cons) but it’s not an inevitable one.
    Other large software houses (such as MS) chose to have different code bases, with different schedules and feature sets for their flagship product.

    I’m not making a complement to MS Office specifically, just saying I miss tailor-made software that takes full advantage of its underlying platform even if that means feature disparity.
    A common foundation with some platform specific glue code at the top may seem like the best use of the developer’s time.
    But we users never see an elegant library or clever algorithm. We stare at that thin crust of GUI all day long, so making it look great and behave consistently is time well spent.

    The joy of using software that’s beautifully crafted to a specific device is part of the success of the iPhone/iPad.
    Yes, it takes a huge amount of work to create something that’s remarkably well suited for a particular OS. But it shows. And it does make all the difference.

    • Mark — 7:06 PM on March 17, 2011

      >The joy of using software that’s beautifully crafted to a specific device

      I don’t know what the “answer” is to this situation. I do know some Lotus 1-2-3 users were seriously pissed off that Lotus devoted resources to developing Lotus Jazz, to try to get their foot in the door of a new market instead of just keeping 1-2-3 as the flagship product. I don’t know how I’d handle this were I a businessman. A company has to look out for its future, and it has to keep its present customers happy. It’s a tough situation, and I guess that’s why so many companies fly high for a time and then crash and disappear. (However while Lotus is gone, and so are both 1-2-3 and Jazz, MS and Excel are still around…)

  • Ben Smith — 7:09 AM on March 18, 2011

    $3.99 in app purchase, get serious! That is just a blatant cash grab. If the Photoshop team priced the app to begin with at .99 cents or 1.99, then provided update with new features like everyone else does that would make sense. How come Apple can release incredibly robust apps like iMovie and Garageband for the iPhone and iPad at $4.99

    [Is that a serious question? Those apps are obviously loss leaders meant to drive sales of iOS devices. –J.]

    and Adobe who should make the best camera app and editor available on the mobile platform can only muster they very weak and limited Photoshop Express, then have the nerve to charge $3.99 for 3 features it should have had to begin with.

    [The nerve! Yes, everything should be free, all the time. Try bouncing that idea off your landlord or mortgage holder. –J.]

    The Photoshop team better hope Apple doesn’t release a mobile version of Aperture.

    [Perhaps you’ve got that backwards. –J.]

  • Ben Smith — 9:29 AM on March 18, 2011

    Loss leaders? really, I don’t think there is a single person who bought an iPhone because they wanted iMovie and Garageband.

    [That would likely come as a surprise to the Apple marketers who buy expensive prime-time TV ads demonstrating on-the-go video editing, but for all I know you’re right. The point is that Apple is essentially giving away software in order to sell hardware. In so doing they lower customer expectations for the pricing of all apps, including non-subsidized ones. That it turn fosters development of an ecosystem of small “independent” developers at the expense of larger ones who need to sell software across platforms. –J.]

    I am certainly not saying it should be free. It should never have been free to begin with. It is very frustrating to me that the makers of Photoshop and Lightroom, two programs I use everyday and love have such a weak Photography app when it should be the de facto standard in Photography apps.

    [I agree that PS Express could & should be more capable. –J.]

    I am well aware of the percentage of Lightroom vs Aperture users. I have myself convinced many other photographers to use Lightroom because its smoking fast and rock solid.

    [Cool, thanks. –J.]

    All I am suggesting is that $3.99 is a bit much for an in-app purchase of features that should have been implemented to begin with.

    [I don’t know why you assume that it should have been implemented to begin with. Developing cutting-edge noise reduction technology, then squeezing it onto processors that run 6-10x slower than a typical laptop, is neither cheap nor easy. Charging less than the price of a Happy Meal for such an effort doesn’t strike me as outrageous–but of course we’re through the looking glass now. –J.]

  • Ben Smith — 10:13 AM on March 18, 2011

    Thanks for your insightful replies and I totally understand where you are coming from. I have an overwhelming amount of Camera apps on my iPhone and spent quite a few dollars trying them. I have had to weed them out to get to the best of them as it really get overwhelming trying to remember what they all do.

    My dream is to have Photoshop Express do everything I need for iPhone photos as it does on the desktop with Photoshop Lightroom for my SLR. I am not saying we need all the features of course. I want the PS Express icon on my home screen as the go to app for every photo I take with the phone. I would love to have the standard Lightroom presets as starting points with a couple of control sliders.

    I appreciate the noise reduction you have just implemented, it is greatly needed. If through the growth of PS Express as it adds features and functionality, I don’t mind paying .99 cents per addition of each feature set as it matures. It was just a bit of sticker shock at $3.99 that didn’t sit well with me.

    Thanks John, your blog is alway a very interesting place to spend quality time.

    [Thanks for the feedback, Ben. Yeah, charging any reasonable amount of money inside of a free app may seem weird. It’s like getting a car for free and then hearing that (really nice) floor mats cost $500. It’s still a time of great experimentation with mobile app pricing. –J.]

  • Pee Bee — 4:12 PM on June 05, 2011

    Well, I think Photoshop is the best image editor on the desktop computer. The Photoshop app on the iPhone is not the best editor. Many other photo apps have tricks that PS Express is missing. Will PS Express ever catch up an become a major important app? Charging this much for such a filter is not very promising. Altough it is very tempting to test it. But that is not possible. Or is it?

  • MATTHEW HEMINGWAY — 8:34 AM on October 18, 2011

    I think the PS Express App is great and use it all the time . I was just wondering is if beneficial to use the Reduce Noise on all photos ?

  • Mel — 7:59 AM on September 12, 2012

    Need an update or Android.. Great app but really really want it for android. It’s the only thing holding me up from switching from iPhone to android.

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