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Photoshop Fix boils down professional photo editor to free iOS app

Photoshop Fix condenses some of the most powerful features of Adobe Photoshop into a free photo editor for iPhones and iPads.

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An iPad Pro is used to demonstrate some of Photoshop Fix's retouching features during an Apple event in San Francisco on September 9, 2015.

Beck Diefenbach/Reuters

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Adobe Photoshop may be the company’s flagship software and the standard professional tool for digital designers, but the program is overkill for many users who just want to crop or adjust photos so they look their best.

Adobe released a new app aimed at those users on Monday at its Adobe MAX 2015 conference in Los Angeles: Photoshop Fix, a free photo retouching program that runs on iPhones and iPads.

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Photoshop Fix includes several of the most powerful tools from the full Photoshop program, including Healing Brush, which can be used to remove blemishes and smooth out imperfections in a photo; and Liquify, which can slightly alter the structure of subjects within a photo. (Pros might use Liquify to alter a person’s waistline, for example.)

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It also includes tools to adjust the lighting, color, smoothness, and focus of parts of a particular image – for example, adding natural-looking lighting to an area that was partially obscured by shadow when the picture was taken.

Photoshop Fix also includes a feature that doesn’t appear in the desktop version of Photoshop: a tool to automatically identify and adjust faces in photos. The tool can zero in on a person’s eyes, nose, chin, and mouth, and subtly adjust their size or angle. Adobe gave a sneak preview of this feature during the Apple iPad Pro demonstration last month, though some attendees found it a little bit creepy. Overuse the tool, and you risk entering the “uncanny valley” – the effect produced by an image that looks almost, but not quite enough, like a real person.

Adobe says Photoshop Fix doesn’t require a subscription to Creative Cloud, the company’s pay-by-the-month subscription service for Photoshop and other Creative Suite software. That said, if you do have a Creative Cloud subscription, you’ll be able to move edited images back and forth between Photoshop Fix and the full desktop version of Photoshop.

Adobe announced that it would eventually release an Android version of Photoshop Fix, as well.

This isn’t the first time Adobe has taken features from its desktop software and broken them into a simpler standalone program. In April 2014, the company released Lightroom Mobile, an iPad version of its desktop photo editing and organizing program. And last October, it introduced Premiere Clip, a stripped-down version of the widely-used video editing program. Premiere Clip allows iPhone and iPad users to trim shots and arrange them in sequence, as well as apply transitions between them and add a few effects. Like Photoshop Fix, Lightroom Mobile and Premiere Clip allow Creative Cloud subscribers to send their work back over to the desktop for further refinement.