Things We Don’t Need: Smile Enhancement

Things We Don’t Need: Smile Enhancement

I always look forward to the annual Fall ritual of new Apple products, even though the company has long since moved from underdog to offshore cash hoarding monolith. Although many of the new features are leaked in advance, Apple still manages to surprise.

At today’s event to demonstrate the new iPad Pro, Apple brought up Eric Snowden, Adobe’s Director of Design for Mobile Apps. Snowden showed off a pretty nifty tool called “comp” which is a rapid layout tool that is the first iPad app to offer over 1,000 fonts in Adobe’s Typekit product.

But he wasn’t happy with the photo of a woman’s face. Not smiley enough.

So he moved the image into Adobe Photoshop Fix, which is a version of Photoshop designed for retouching.


Retouching is unfortunately an unavoidable part of photographic post-production for commercial and editorial images (among many other genres). There are examples of retouching gone awry, and of course, much discussion concerning body image and the unrealistic standards that it sets. This new Adobe product has facial detection and Snowden showed how the app could automatically identify a mouth, and then used a swipe gesture to move it from neutral to subtle smile.

There was a hoot and light applause from the audience, but most of the crowd maintained neutral faces.


But I’m not here to judge the validity of retouching on the whole. Instead, I would argue that this little feature is akin to the megapixel wars. We don’t need more megapixels, we need better dynamic range and autofocus. Similarly, we don’t need a feature to turn a frown upside down, we need smarter masking tools and more realistic/faster skin tone leveling tools.

A little later in the event, Jen Folse from the Apple TV team showed off video screen savers – implying that this was something revolutionary. It was not. We don’t need it. Make me a product that finds me something good to watch amongst the 500 channels on my TV. That will turn my frown into a real smile without the need for Photoshop.

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Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

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