Adobe is reportedly testing a free online version of Photoshop and plans to open the service to everyone, aiming to introduce more users to the industry-standard application. According The edge, 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 plans to eventually remove some features and offer them exclusively to paid subscribers. But even then, enough tools will be available for users to perform what Adobe considers basic Photoshop functions.
The first web version of Photoshop was released in October last year. It was a simplified version of the desktop application that could be used to manage basic changes; this included layers and some basic editing tools. But that’s a far cry from the hugely feature-rich and versatile tool that is the Adobe Photoshop desktop app. Instead, the company positioned it as a collaboration tool where artists could share images with others and collaborators could leave annotations and small edits before handing them over to the artist.
But since then, the company has taken many steps to expand the app’s use case scenarios and open it up to work beyond just collaboration. An example that illustrates this is that initially someone had to share a document on the web from the desktop app, but now any Photoshop subscriber can log into the web app and start a new document without have to download one.
According to the report, Adobe aims to make the web version of the app more accessible to attract users who will want to pay for the full version at some point. 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, as it opens up the service to those who want to access it from devices that would otherwise be 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 didn’t give a timeline for the wider launch of this freemium version, but it continues to update Photoshop for the web with more tools. New updates include tools such as edge refinement, curves, dodge and burn tools, and the ability to convert smart objects. The web app also has support for reviewing and commenting on images on mobile.