AI Photo Software Is Converging

Companies are consolidating AI photo tools. What does this mean for you? I explore this move in my latest Smarter Image column.

My latest Smarter Image column is available now: The state of AI in your favorite photo editing apps.

We’re headed toward the last quarter of the year when companies tend to release updates to their photo editing software. AI-based features have crept into these apps and utilities over time, now it seems the pace is not only increasing, but the tools are moving out of the periphery to more centralized placement.

One case in point: Topaz Labs is building a new app, Photo AI (hey, great name!) that incorporates their DeNoise AI, Gigapixel AI, and Sharpen AI tools into one location. It makes sense: if you own the individual utilities, do you de-noise before you sharpen a photo, or is it better to sharpen and then get rid of the noise? With Photo AI, currently available as a beta to customers of their Image Quality bundle with an active Photo Upgrade plan, those elements are handled in one place.

Skylum is taking a slightly different approach, adding new features such as HDR and AI-based de-noise to Luminar Neo as plug-ins (which must be purchased separately). And ON1 has recently showed off some features like Mask AI and Tack Sharp AI that will arrive in a future version of ON1 Photo RAW.

And, yes, that time has come: all the apps now offer some method of subscription pricing. Photographers got really upset when Adobe shifted to a subscription model, and other companies made a huge deal about how their software was a fixed price and would never do something as dastardly as Adobe (I’m looking at you, Skylum and an earlier management team). You can still buy standalone licenses (except for Adobe products), but the temptation of steady revenue streams is too powerful for most companies.

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