Adobe Systems has announced the public beta of Adobe Photoshop Express, a free, rich Internet application (RIA) version of its flagship image editing application accessible via a Web browser.
Through the new service, users also can store up to two gigabytes of images online -- where they can upload their favorite files, edit them in Photoshop Express and share them online with other sites, such as social network sites like Facebook.
During the beta process, Adobe (NASDAQ: ADBE) will solicit users for feedback on product features and functionality and plans to update the application with user ideas as well as bug fixes, it said. At some point, Adobe plans to offer a desktop version of Express available as well, it added.
Photoshop Express won't be in the same league as the company's full-blown Photoshop software, but it will let users make simple edits, like resizing, cropping, converting to black and white and removing red eye and other blemishes.
There will also be effects like light filters and sharpening, but Photoshop's numerous third-party filters and plug-ins will not work with it.
"Now, Photoshop Express allows anyone who snaps a digital photo to easily achieve the high-impact results for which Adobe is known," said Doug Mack, vice president of Consumer and Hosted Solutions at Adobe, in a statement.
Ray Valdes, research manager at Gartner for Web services, said he was impressed by Express -- and particularly, the Web-based RIA's comprehensiveness.
"I was amazed that something like that could be done 'in the cloud,' so to speak, rather than on the local desktop," he told InternetNews.com. "So I think they did a pretty good job in terms of the user interface and functionality."
The app joins Premiere Express, an online video-editing and mashup tool the software company made available through partner sites, such as MTV and Photobucket. Like Photoshop Express, Premiere Express offers much of the functionality found in Premiere Elements, the more fully featured desktop version of the video-editing program.
While Photoshop Express appears to be aimed squarely at rivals in the free-to-low-end graphics editing space, the launch is also a powerful demonstration of its underlying technology.
Photoshop Express is written in Flex, Adobe's technology for building RIAs.* The company is pushing Flex, itself based on Adobe Flash, as a serious tool for Web-based application developers -- in competition with rivals like Microsoft's Silverlight and Sun's JavaFX.
Additionally, Adobe's offer of free hosting places still more foes in its crosshairs: perhaps most of all, Yahoo's Flickr photo-hosting service. In addition to hosting the files and sharing them with third-party sources like social networks, Photoshop Express users can create slide shows with animations that make photos float and fly across a viewer's screen.
Valdes said the entrenched competition forced Adobe to raise the bar.
This article was first published on InternetNews.com.