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Google's Snapseed app beats Apple to the punch with RAW support

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Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends

Snapseed is getting serious about photo editing – a new iOS update adds both RAW support and new portrait retouching tools.

The Google-owned app is bringing RAW capability to iOS just before Apple introduces its own support for the digital negative files. While Apple announced the feature would be part of iOS 10, the software update isn’t publicly available yet.

Though the official release date of the updated operating system hasn’t been announced, it will likely be addressed in the Apple launch event on September 7.

Related: Adobe Lightroom for Mobile adds RAW support for iOS

Interestingly enough, the update is only for iOS, not the Android version — but with Android already supporting RAW, Snapseed added the feature for those users nearly a year ago.

While iOS is expected to handle RAW files soon, Snapseed users have to work around the missing feature for now by uploading the RAW files to Google Drive via computer and using the “send a file” option to export images to mobile. While the extra steps likely take out the main reason for using a mobile app for editing in the first place, users will soon be able to shoot RAW with the iPhone’s camera. The app is compatible with the RAW file types from 144 different cameras.

RAW support in Snapseed gives users more flexibility over adjusting the white balance, curves, and other fine-tuning compared to a compressed JPEG file. According to the developers, the addition of RAW compatibility also allows for non-destructive photo editing — in other words, it’s easier to undo an effect.

Along with the RAW compatibility, the app now includes several portrait retouching features, including a healing tool and skin smoothing. The update also adds a Face Spotlight for brightening portraits as well as a few more oddballs, like the option to whiten eyes.

Snapseed version 2.9 is now available for download from the App Store.