It seems that online photo editing tools are no longer child’s play. Companies take web apps so seriously that they even consider developing online versions of their most popular products. This is the case with Adobe and its long-awaited online photo editor, which was just unveiled as a public beta where anyone can sign up. And being the official Photoshop fan on this blog, I couldn’t miss it!
First of all, be warned: Photoshop Express is by no means the online version of the original desktop Photoshop app. It’s not intended for professional photographers or designers, basically because it doesn’t include many of the tools featured in the original editor. In my opinion, Photoshop Express is simply another online photo editor you can use to easily fix your images, add a quick retouch and pimp them up with some basic effects, all of these with the same degree of usability you would expect from an Adobe product.
That said, I must say Photoshop Express looks great. The web interface is all designed in Flash and while this may cause problems (especially in forms, which didn’t recognize the @ character) it gives the app a shiny, sleek look. Once you’re logged in, you’re directed to a kind of homepage with three main options: My Photos, My Gallery and Browse.
My Photos lets you upload images from your hard drive to Photoshop Express. Yes: besides being an online photo editor, the program also gives you 2 GB of free storage for your pictures (ain’t that nice?). Photoshop Express also imports photos from Photobucket or Picasa, but not from Flickr – in case you wonder why, it’s just because Flickr is engaged to someone else. You can upload single photos or several of them simultaneously, and the whole uploading process is surprisingly fast.
Each photo features a context menu with different options. One of them is “Edit Photo”, which takes you to the most interesting section in Photoshop Express: the editing tools. Like I said, don’t expect to find here all the tools featured in the desktop version of Photoshop. There are no drawing tools, no text tools, even no layer support. What you’ll find is an accurate selection of easy tools, categorized in three groups (Basic, Tuning and Effects) and mainly addressed at the average amateur photographer.
You’ll be able to crop or rotate your pics, fix the red-eye effect, change color and light values, and apply sketch or distorting effects, among other options. I especially liked the way effects are presented: just hover your mouse over the row of thumbnails on top of the photo and check how the correspondent effect will look; if you like the result, click on that thumbnail and you’re done. Also, if you don’t like any of the filters or effects you applied before, simply remove the side tick and it’ll disappear from the photo, leaving the rest untouched. I think this is quite a smart way to make up for the absence of layers.
The second option in the main menu, My Gallery, lets you organize and visualize any photo albums you’ve created. You can have as many of them as you want and make them public or private. There’s also the option to obtain an embed code for the selected album, so that you can insert it in your personal webpage or blog, or simply copy the album URL to the Clipboard to share it in any other app.
Finally, the Browse option is where you can access other people’s albums and view them as slideshows, just like your own albums. A few sorting options on the left sidebar let you browse albums based on the ones you’ve seen recently or marked as Favorites.
To sum up, though your first impression may be one of disappointment for not having an “authentic” online Photoshop, Adobe’s editor is still an excellent online photo tool. Not only can you edit, retouch and optimize your pictures, but you also get 2 GB of free storage along with several ways to share your photo albums online. Way to go, Adobe!