Adobe is reportedly testing a free online version of Photoshop and plans to open up the service to everyone, aiming to introduce more users to the industry-standard application. According to The Verge, the company is currently testing a “freemium” version of the same in Canada where users can access Photoshop on their browser using a free Adobe account. It eventually plans to remove some features and offer them exclusively to paying subscribers. But even then, enough tools will be available for users to perform what Adobe considers to be core Photoshop functions.
The first web version of Photoshop was released in October last year. It was a simplified version of the desktop app that could be used to handle basic edits; this included layers and some core editing tools. But this came nowhere close to the extremely feature-rich and versatile tool that the Adobe Photoshop desktop app is. Instead, the company positioned it as a collaboration tool where artists could share images with others and collaborators could leave annotations and small tweaks before handing it over to the artist.
But since then, the company has taken many steps to widen the use case scenarios for the app and open it up to work beyond mere collaboration. One example that illustrates this is how initially, someone had to share a document to the web from the desktop app, but now, any Photoshop subscriber can log in to the web application and start a new document without having to upload one.
According to the report, Adobe aims to use the web version of the app more accessible to hook users who will want to pay for the full version some time down the road. The company had already taken a similar approach with mobile apps like Photoshop Express and Adobe Fresco. Offering a free web version of Photoshop could be a pivotal moment since it opens up the service to those who may want to access it from devices that would have otherwise been too underpowered to use Photoshop, including Chromebooks, which are widely used in schools in the United States and elsewhere.
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The company hasn’t given out timelines for when this freemium version would launch more widely but it continues to update Photoshop for the web with more tools. New updates include tools like refine edge, curves, the dodge and burn tools, and the ability to convert Smart Objects. The web app is also getting support for reviewing and commenting on images on mobile.