Top AI photo editng app PhotoRoom has formed a new partnership with Google Cloud that it says could seriously speed up image generation while keeping costs down.
The software, dubbed “the fastest generative AI provider in the commerce space” by the company, is designed to let businesses create and edit product images for ecommerce platforms.
Announcing its intention to power-up AI performance with Google’s A3 ‘supercomputers’, the company said the pairing will cut product photography production times for small businesses and entrepreneurs “from days to less than an hour – without compromising accuracy or quality.”
Product, production & photo editing
Like most commercial content creation, product photography demands high-quality visuals produced at high velocity. Not only do items need to look their best, websites need to cover variations from color to size if it’s to be added to a shopper’s basket.
It’s a process that takes time – and the space that PhotoRoom, founded in 2019, occupies. The photo editor streamlines image manipulation, letting firms enhance product shots and add unique, AI-generated backgrounds, while free photo editor tools include a background remover and object remover.
Highlighting the major growth in genAI usage, Matthieu Rouif, PhotoRoom CEO,.said “We're already processing 2 billion images per year, and we expect that to double in 2024, as more businesses adopt PhotoRoom's generative AI technology. Google Cloud provides the ideal foundation for our continued success with its capacity to scale, its flexibility, and its sustainable infrastructure.”
The use of Google Cloud A3 instances is a compelling choice. Unveiled in May 2023, the next-generation GPU supercomputers are designed to train and deliver what Google called “the most demanding AI models” for generative AI and LLMs. However, the partnership benefits Google as much as PhotoRoom, strengthening the search giant’s clear B2B focus when it comes to rolling artificial intelligence to the masses.
“We're thrilled to offer Google Cloud's industry leading infrastructure, foundation models and AI tooling to PhotoRoom so the company can build, train, and deploy AI creatively, reliably and at scale,” said Mark Lohmeyer, vice president and general manager of Google Cloud.
Apple has announced that it's shutting down its older My Photo Stream service on July 26, and encouraging everyone to move over to iCloud Photos. If you still use My Photo Stream, your files will remain available in the cloud for 30 days from July 26.
My Photo Stream was the forerunner to iCloud Photos. It was free to use but only covered a maximum of 1,000 pictures and video clips, keeping these files in sync across every Apple device you owned and on the web.
Apple hasn't given a reason for shutting down the service, but iCloud Photos is clearly the newer and more comprehensive option for photo and video backups – while also making some money for Apple in terms of storage fees at the same time.
“Moving forward, iCloud Photos is the best way to keep the photos and videos you take up to date across all your devices and safely stored in iCloud,” Apple said in an email sent out to anyone who is still making use of My Photo Stream.
While photos and videos won't be deleted from your actual devices, they will be removed from the cloud 30 days from July 26 (so August 25), and syncing will be switched off. No new uploads will be permitted from July 26.
The service launched alongside iCloud in 2011 and is something of a throwback to the time when tech companies were still figuring out how to get photo and video uploads to work in a speedy and seamless way.
Analysis: what you need to do
What Apple is doing here is phasing out the cloud storage and syncing service for your last 1,000 photos and videos. The original files – which in most cases will be on an iPhone, if they were captured with the iPhone camera – won't go anywhere.
Unless you want to risk losing all your precious memories if something happens to your phone, you really need to get your pictures and videos uploaded to the cloud for safekeeping. Apple is pushing its own iCloud Photos service, which works well: once you go past 5GB of files though, you'll need to start paying for storage.
Other similar services that offer paid-for cloud storage include Google Photos and Dropbox. If you don't want to pay or store anything in the cloud, you need to make sure your photos and videos are regularly backed up to a computer or storage drive or two, preferably in a different location to where your iPhone normally lives.
There's more information in the official Apple support document about how the My Photo Stream shutdown is going to work, what you need to do with your photos and videos, and how to get them into iCloud Photos if you want to.
Cyberlink is one of the leaders in video editing apps – from movies to wedding projects, they're a go-to in making sure that there's an easy process in getting the right edits.
PhotoDirector 365 and DirectorSuite 365 are the latest versions in its editing suites for Windows and macOS, where you can pay for a monthly or annual subscription, rivaling it against similar apps such as Adobe Creative Cloud.
With vacations and events opening up in 2022, there's going to be more opportunity to capture some moments on video, which is where Cyberlink's Suites will come in.
This is why the company is offering a discount on both of these apps until the end of April.
Today's best Cyberlink deals
Cyberlink Director Suite: $ 129.99/yr$ 96.99/yr direct Save 25% – This suite combines PowerDirector, PhotoDirector, AudioDirector, and ColorDirector into one, at 25% off the annual price. For example, you can use video editing features of Chroma Key, Keyframing Multicam in PowerDirector, and then use AudioDirector to use the Vocal Balance feature to level out the audio. If you have a project to create, edit and share from start to finish, this suite will do the job in an interface that’s easy to use, for a cheaper annual price.
Cyberlink Photo Director: $ 54.99/yr$ 40.99/yr direct Save 25% – This is Cyberlink’s photo editing suite for beginners, but with features to make it easy for anyone to edit photos. From deblurring to layer tools, there’s plenty to use. But not only do you get a great editing suite for your photos, but you also gain access to 4,000,000 images from Shutterstock and Getty images to use for those projects.
While many go for Adobe or built-in apps such as iMovie on Apple's macOS operating system, Cyberlink is one of the few in the category where you can create a project from start to finish, and cover every area that you may have not previously considered.
Every project has to have its time to shine, regardless of whether it's a college assignment or your friend's big day for the summer, which is where a suite of apps from Cyberlink should be able to do the job on your Windows 11 laptop.
Taking photos in iOS has always been a relatively simple affair, just by using the Camera app by Apple. But third-party developers have gone further to make the iPhone camera work harder for you and the photos you take every day.
This is what Obscura has been doing since its launch in 2015. Developed by the Obscura team of Ben Rice McCarthy, Adam K. Schmidt and Sara Lovic, the third version of the app launched this week (February 17) for $ 9.99 / £9.99 / AU$ 10.99.
This new version brings a redesigned gallery view, video capture, refined layouts for controlling exposure settings, and the multiple lenses of the iPhone models, alongside controller support. This allows anyone with an Xbox or PlayStation controller, to take a photo through Obscura 3.
Having used the update for a month, it’s a significant improvement over Obscura 2. The new gallery view brings your albums front and center, giving you a quick overview of what you want to select.
There’s also the ability to rate your photos, not just a thumbs up or down as in Apple’s Photos app. Here, you could take a selection of photos, say different locations for a wedding venue for instance, and rate them in order. It makes sorting some photos much easier, as it could help you decide on certain locations or products for those important situations.
It’s the gestures that help make Obscura 3 shine – especially the exposure gesture. As you’re taking a photo, you can press the exposure icon on the bottom-left of the app to change how light or dark you need the image to be. But if you use your thumb to slide up and down on the icon, you can more accurately choose the exposure point instead.
These little touches are found across the app in this third version. While you can’t currently change the default camera app in iOS, Obscura 3 makes a compelling case for why the option should be there for pro users.
A chat with Obscura’s developer
Speaking with McCarthy after the launch of Obscura 3, I asked them whether the pandemic inspired the development of the new update, in regards to features and what users were asking for. “Not particularly. In an ideal world we would have taken a trip to somewhere exciting to take incredible marketing photos of rainforests or glaciers,” McCarthy clarifies. “But for the most part, the production of Obscura 3 wasn’t all that different to Obscura 2.”
With every major update to an app, there’s always the question of what the main objective was for the newest version. We asked McCarthy what the aim was for Obscura this time. “Am I allowed to say everything? Because we really did throw it all out and start from scratch,” McCarthy continues. “There are obvious changes like the new camera interface, but everything has been rewritten and improved, like the gesture to close the camera, the photo capture pipeline, the filters to support P3 color, I could go on all day.
“If I had to choose just one though, I’d probably say the Image Detail view,” McCarthy reveals. “There’s an astonishing amount of complexity to it. It was honestly pretty janky in Obscura 2. It now has better support for RAW files, depth data, video (for the first time!), and is much smoother at handling changes to the photo library while you’re browsing. The triage features are also really neat if you care about keeping your library organized.”
We wanted to mention the Exposure wheel, which we found very intuitive for allowing certain amounts of light in. We asked McCarthy how this came to be, and why it’s arriving in this update.
“Conceptually, the Exposure and Focus dials were planned from the very start. In fact, I had built a very rudimentary version of them in Obscura 1, but it wasn’t great,” McCarthy explains.
“We played around with the functionality quite a bit. Should the dial have values displayed around the ring? Should the sensitivity vary as it expands? How sensitive should the haptic feedback be? But everything we added made it feel less intuitive and more distracting. In the end, the simpler it was, the more natural and like using a physical camera it felt.”
With the new gallery view being a tentpole feature of Obscura 3, we asked McCarthy whether there was going to be an option for opening the app and having the gallery appear first.
“I had thought of making that an option for the forthcoming iPad version, which is well suited to browsing and editing photos, but I hadn’t really considered it for the phone,” McCarthy explains. “But if we build that functionality anyway, I don’t see why we wouldn’t add it to the phone.”
In-app purchases, or IAPs, are ways for users to buy more features for an app. In previous Obscura versions, this allowed you to buy additional filters, but for Obscura 3, there are no IAPs this time.
We asked McCarthy what the reasons for this were, and if IAPs have had their due, especially for photography apps.
“There were a few reasons behind this decision, benefitting both us and the user. The first is that we wanted to avoid the feeling of upselling, especially when the user is in the middle of taking photos,” McCarthy explains.
“Secondly, the StoreKit API has also been a pain to work with in the past and was the source of more support email than any other part of the app. And thirdly, having IAPs for filters necessitated having example photos for the product pages, and those added quite a considerable amount to Obscura’s download size (O2 was about 70MB and O3 is down to about 5MB, though the sample photos weren’t the only factor).”
The gallery view also shows promise for other Apple platforms, such as macOS, an operating system that doesn’t have an Obscura app. We wondered whether this is something up for consideration.
“I’m certainly not promising anything right now, but I have tried building it for the Mac using Catalyst and it mostly runs without issue,” McCarthy reveals. “The real work would be in making it feel more at home on macOS, so I guess we’ll have to see if we can find the time to make it happen.”
A surprising feature was the integration of controller support in Obscura 3. You could use a Dual Sense controller to take a photo if needed. We asked whether this was always intended and if there are further plans to expand this in the future.
“As I was working on the Apple Watch companion app, it occurred to me that it would be nice if there was an alternative for people who don’t have one. And I had a spare PS4 controller (in theory for playing more games on iOS, though I rarely use it) and I realized that could be a decent alternative,” McCarthy reveals.
“There’s not much functionality there right now, but we have plenty of ideas on improving this feature that just didn’t make the cut for launch.”
Finally, widgets are still being heavily used on iPhone and iPad devices, where you can place bite-sized information on your home screen without launching the app. For Obscura, this seems to be a natural step, especially for rated photos and shortcuts for launching different modes of the app.
We asked McCarthy whether this was something that they were considering. “Definitely. As soon as the launch chaos is over we’re going to start work on widgets, and we already have a few planned,” McCarthy continues. “Having access via the lock screen is a big bonus that widgets also provide. And given that we may never see an option to set third-party camera apps as the default, we have to take what opportunities we can get.”
In this guide to the best photo printers, we look at the top devices for ensuring your photos look their best when you make physical copies of them.
No matter if you're a professional photographer, or merely a keen amateur that likes to take holiday photos, you'll want the very best photo printer your budget can stretch to – and we're here to help.
These days, there's a huge range of photo printers to choose from, so our best photo printers guide is here to make things more simple. We've picked the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to photo printers – from affordable desktop photo printers for everyday use, to expensive studio-quality professional photo printers and even wireless printers that can be used with a smartphone.
The best photo printers come in every shape and size, from budget photo printers that are easy to use, portable devices and even professional-level photo printers. Fortunately, this means that no matter what you’re looking for, you should be able to find the best photo printer for your needs.
Not only have we collected the very best photo printers for a huge range of budgets and use cases, our very own price comparison tool will also scour the internet for you and deliver the best prices.
The Canon Pixma Pro-100 is a monster of a photo printer. Its 8-ink dye system called ChromaLife 100+ provides excellent color accuracy and a wide range of colors for vivid prints that you would want to hang in a museum. Its large format allows you to print up to 13” x 19” prints and, with its two paper trays, you’re able to cover just about any paper stock you can think of, making this printer incredibly versatile.
Despite its sleek dimensions, this smooth 3-in-1 inkjet device is able to print on A3-size paper and uses not four, but six inkjet cartridges to achieve superior colour accuracy. It means your ink costs are rather high, but it’s worth it for the beautifully shaded results. The scanner is only A4-size, but it makes very high resolution scans and combined with the high print resolution, you can make near identical colour copies. There’s no fax and print speeds are slow, but in all other respects, the Epson Expression Photo XP-970 is hard to beat. For an idea of its performance you can read our review of the almost identical Epson Expression Photo XP-960.
This A2-size print-only device will suit any business that needs to turn out professional quality large format colour documents. It uses Epson’s nine-colour UltraChrome HD inkset for lifelike colour shading, which come in high capacity 80ml cartridges. Add the paper roll option and this machine can handle high print runs, or turn out impressive panoramic posters. Unsurprisingly, it takes up quite a bit of room and the cost is high, although considerably lower that outsourcing your prints.
Want to produce borderless photo-quality prints of up to 13” x 19”? Most printers just can’t do that. The Canon IP8720 however can. And with its 6-color ink and 9600 x 2400 max DPI, you get gorgeous and rich color reproduction as well as incredible detail. The Canon also allows for a plethora of ways to print including from mobile devices using their Canon Print App or from the cloud with AirPrint and Google Cloud Print.
It looks a little ungainly with the refillable ink tanks ruining the symmetry of this otherwise compact all-in-one, but it’s the refined EcoTank system that sets this model apart from the competition. If you can swallow the high price tag, your ongoing ink costs will be very low and Epson’s five-colour printing guarantees excellent image quality, especially with photos on photo paper.
This humble all-in-one can scan and copy, but its real strength is in printing photos. Frustratingly, there’s no Ethernet port, or USB port for printing from a flash drive and it churns very slowly, but the results are surprisingly good for such an affordable inkjet. The supplied starter cartridges are rather light on ink, but if you replace them with high-capacity carts, then the running cost is competitive too.
Sitting at the top of Canon’s Pixma range, the TS9150 looks like a premium product as you might expect, with a giant touchscreen display nestling up-front. It also boasts a high-resolution printing and scanning and Canon’s excellent six-ink system. By using black pigment ink alongside dye-based colours, photographic prints look especially realistic.
Canon’s most affordable printer to include ink tanks instead of cartridges is a modest 4-in-1 that could work well in a small office that needs to run out lots of colour documents. It prints very slowly and cannot print on both sides of the page, but in all other respects, it holds up well. The cartridge-less system is very economical and the box includes enough ink for 6,000 mono and 7,000 colour pages.
If you want results that look like they came from a photo lab, the Epson Surecolor P400 is hard to beat. Not only does it come with an 8-color ink set including both matte and photo black for a full spectrum of rich color, but it has cut-sheet and roll paper support that allows you to produce just about any project you can think of. The ink system includes 14 mL cartridges that can be individually replaced, making this a printer that won’t run out of ink in the middle of a project or waste precious ink.
HP’s oddly shaped all-in-one includes every feature from a fax facility, to an SD card slot, while giving you easy access to them via a colourful touchscreen interface. The coloured inks are combined in one cartridge and if you subscribe to HP’s Instant Ink service, it will be automatically replaced just before you run out. It feels a little flimsy, but photos prints in particular, look vibrant.