Luminar is photo editing software from Skylum (née Macphun) that works as a standalone app, an Apple Photos extension or as a plugin for Aperture, Lightroom or Photoshop. Features include support for raw and PSD files, plug-ins and extensions; noise reduction and object-removal tools; layers, blend modes, and masking; brushes, filters and presets; batch processing and more, positioned as a subscription-free Lightroom alternative. (See FAQ and user guides for more details.)

Luminar 4.2.0 is priced at $138 (currently $89) with a 2-computer, cross-platform license for macOS 10.12 and up and Windows. A trial version installer is available in return for supplying an email address. The latest release includes “Face Features Detection Network, Shine Removal Technology, Slim Face 2.0 Technology”, etc.

Version 4 brought “several tools informed by extensive machine-learning” (apparently similar to Apple’s iPhone 11 image processing):

AI Structure in Luminar 4 automatically identifies objects like people and their faces, skin, sky, buildings and more, and improves them intelligently, instead of globally across the photograph. It adds detail and clarity to areas that otherwise wouldn’t have much, boosting the structure and making for a much more pleasing image. What this means is that instead of adding Structure to an entire photograph, it selectively does so, meaning photographers no longer have to mask or brush out the effect.

Microsoft Office iPhone app

Microsoft Office app for iPhones is a new variant of Microsoft Corp.’s dominant office software suite that combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in one mobile app with some extra tricks. The app can attempt to use the iPhone camera to convert images of spreadsheets and text into editable data, scan QR codes, create PDFs and sign them “using your finger”, transfer files between mobile and desktop systems and provide cloud integration with document collaboration.

Microsoft Office app 2.34.1 is a free download for iPhones running iOS 12 and later, as well as Android phones, but the Office 365 service is an in-app purchase starting at $6.99/month.

(Individual Microsoft apps are also available for iPads, iPhones and Apple Watches.)


Pixelmator Pro is a Mac image-editing app from UAB Pixelmator Team that features “professional-grade editing tools” for selection, painting, retouching, color correction and vector-based drawing/shapes, with non-destructive layers-based image editing, GPU-powered processing, 16-bit/channel support; raw support, free-space monitoring, image effects, and more. File support includes Photoshop images with layers, JPEG, TIFF, PNG, WebP, PDF, GIF, BMP, TGA, etc., and Apple technology support includes iCloud, Auto Save, sharing, Grand Central Dispatch, Automator, etc.
  The app is based on Apple’s “Metal 2” graphics system (and hardware) and promises machine learning to “detect and understand various features within images”, plus multiple Raw image layers, adjustment recipes and more. The latest version boosts integration with Apple Photos (see below).

Pixelmator Pro 1.5.4 is priced at $39.99 for macOS 10.13 High Sierra or higher plus a “Metal-compatible graphics card.” A 30-day trial is available. (Pixelmator 3.9 is a more limited version of the Mac app, priced at $29.99 for macOS 10.13 and up.)  The latest Pixelmator Pro release includes a new image enlargement feature.

Pixelmator Pro 1.5.4 brings the incredible new ML Super Resolution, which lets you increase the resolution of images using state-of-the-art machine learning, improves ML Denoise, and features a few additional fixes.

Pixelmator Photo is a photo editing app for iPads that offers non-destructive adjustments and touts “a machine learning algorithm trained on 20 million professional photos,” according to the company. Features include “desktop-class photo editing tools”, support for photo raw files, integration with Apple Photos/iCloud, a Repair tool/object removal, batch operations, and more.
  Pixelmator Photo 1.1.4 is priced at $4.99 for iOS 11 or later and requires one of the iPads listed below:

Compatible with iPad Pro (12.9‑inch), iPad Pro (12.9‑inch) Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad Pro (9.7‑inch), iPad Pro (9.7‑inch) Wi‑Fi + Cellular, iPad (5th generation), iPad (5th generation) Wi‑Fi + Cellular, iPad Pro (12.9‑inch) (2nd generation), iPad Pro (12.9‑inch) (2nd generation) Wi‑Fi + Cellular, iPad Pro (10.5‑inch), iPad Pro (10.5‑inch) Wi‑Fi + Cellular, iPad (6th generation), iPad Wi‑Fi + Cellular (6th generation), iPad Pro (11‑inch), iPad Pro (11‑inch) Wi‑Fi + Cellular, iPad Pro (12.9‑inch) (3rd generation), iPad Pro (12.9‑inch) (3rd generation) Wi‑Fi + Cellular, iPad mini (5th generation), iPad mini (5th generation) Wi‑Fi + Cellular, iPad Air (3rd generation), iPad Air (3rd generation) Wi‑Fi + Cellular, iPad (7th generation), and iPad (7th generation) Wi‑Fi + Cellular.

LG 8K TVs announced

LG Electronics previewed new 8K TVs, adding to its existing 8K TV product line.

The new models offer the capability to play native 8K content thanks to support of the widest selection of 8K content sources from HDMI and USB digital inputs, including codecs such as HEVC, VP9 and AV1, the latter being backed by major streaming providers including YouTube. LG’s 8K TVs will support 8K content streaming at a rapid 60FPS and are certified to deliver 8K 60P over HDMI.

The new TVs also introduce some interesting AI-based processing:

By leveraging deep learning technology, the 2020 lineup delivers optimized picture and sound quality for all types of content through AI-based 8K upscaling. Based on an intelligent deep learning network, AI 8K Upscaling delivers vivid and accurate 8K images by analyzing the content and applying Quad Step Noise Reduction and frequency-based Sharpness Enhancer to increase lower resolution content to near 8K perfection.

The α9 Gen 3 processor’s AI Picture Pro is capable of recognizing faces and text on screen, fine-tuning and sharpening each to produce more natural skin tones, well-defined facial features and clearer, more readable characters.

More details and prices may be forthcoming during this week’s Consumer Electronics Show  (CES 2020).

FileMaker to Claris, cloud, AI, etc.

Apple today took the strange step of bringing back a subsidiary it previously abandoned, as it now abandons its replacement in a return again to the original name for its latest spin towards an A.I. bot-driven future….

FileMaker reborn as Claris
FileMaker, Inc. … unveiled the start of a new chapter in the company’s history as Claris International Inc. … In 1986, Claris began as an Apple subsidiary. In 1998, the company was renamed as FileMaker, Inc.

The future of the Claris Platform: from FileMaker, to Claris Connect and beyond
Claris Next Gen will be built to leverage the full power of modern workflow apps with built-in orchestration and automation, machine learning, and advanced user experiences powered by AI Bots and AR/VR. Just as our Connect product will significantly lower the barrier to sophisticated app development through 3rd party cloud services, our Next Gen platform will provide modern, AI-driven apps delivered as a service.

An Apple subsidiary once led by legendary Silicon Valley ‘coach’ Bill Campbell is getting a complete rebrand
A little-known subsidiary of Apple is getting a fresh coat of paint: FileMaker is no more, CEO Brad Freitag said in an interview. … Freitag is relatively new in the top role, taking over the CEO position earlier this year from Dominique Goupil, who had led FileMaker for more than 20 years. … Claris is transitioning away from a business model where it runs on servers owned and operated by companies that purchase the software outright to a monthly subscription model of about $50 $15 per person per month, Freitag said.