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Adobe Adds AI-Powered Subject Select Tool to Photoshop for iPad


As promised in November, Adobe has already released the first major update to Photoshop on iPad. This first update adds the Adobe Sensei AI-powered Subject Select Tool—first debuted on the desktop in 2018—to the iPad version, making it much easier to create complex selections in a single tap.

The news was announced via the Adobe Blog, where Photoshop Product Manager Pam Clark explains what the tool does, and even shares some tidbits about how it works.

“Select Subject uses the Adobe Sensei AI machine learning technology to enable you to automatically select the subject of an image to speed up complex selections,” reads the blog post. “This feature on the iPad works exactly the same as on Photoshop on the desktop and produces the same results, vastly enhancing selection capabilities and speed available on the iPad.”

As for how it works, an Adobe engineer explained that Subject Select is the result of multiple different machine learning algorithms working in tandem:

“The results are driven by several Sensei AI and machine learning algorithms chained together, each optimized for different parts of the selection process,” writes Clark. “For example, one algorithm produces the selection, while another removes artifacts to make a sharp edge, etc.…you get the idea. What’s really amazing to me is that the team has tuned the performance of all the algorithms so that together they deliver a beautiful selection virtually instantaneously, with one tap.”

When it works, it works very well. Here are some before-and-after examples that Adobe was kind enough to share with our readers:

Of course, it’s not all rosy. The tool won’t work on every type of image. But the good news is Adobe’s engineers are continuing to train the Subject Select algorithms, so they’ll only get better over time.

“The team is working to optimize [Subject Select] for a greater volume of scenarios and it will continuously get better,” writes Clark. “One of our top priorities for next year is to make Select Subject work even better on very tricky subjects like hair and fur, plus to expand and improve the results on ever more complex images.”

To read all about these improvements and the other minor enhancements that were packaged into today’s Photoshop on iPad update, head over to the Adobe Blog or (for Creative Cloud subscribers) update your copy and give the new tool a shot for yourself.