Skylum’s Luminar has evolved over the last several years from a basic photo editing tool to a legitimate Adobe Lightroom challenger, and AI tools are about to help it take the next big step forward. With the release of Luminar 3 for Windows PCs and Macs only a week away, Skylum says it’s working on new AI-powered smart tools that will be coming in updates throughout 2019.

In the current version of Luminar, Skylum includes an AI Sky Enhancer, which automatically analyzes traditionally overexposed skies and makes selective, gentle adjustments to bring out both colors and cloud details. There’s also an Accent AI Filter that simultaneously applies contrast, color, exposure, and detail controls using a single slider, making flat images look judiciously dynamic.

Skylum says that between January and July 2019 the Mac and PC versions of Luminar will add AI tools for editing skin in portrait photos, improving architecture, automatically removing objects, and applying image masks. For business users of its cloud-based Picturespeed service, Skylum is also working on AI-assisted batch processing of images, including smart resolution enhancement and color correction, full body skin retouching, and stylization tools.

AI is becoming an increasingly potent technology for photography, now doing everything from creating photos to reducing file sizes to cleaning up noisy images. A particularly amazing recent application is Google’s Night Sight, which uses machine learning to transform unusably dark images from a phone into impressively lit photographs. Leveraging these AI innovations, developers of photo-editing software can win over customers by making post-processing simpler and more powerful than ever before.

Apart from its growing collection of AI photo editing tools, Luminar 3’s most noteworthy addition is library support, enabling users to easily manage, browse, and rate a huge collection of photographs. Thanks to this feature, Luminar is now potentially capable of replacing Apple’s Photos app on the low end and Adobe’s Lightroom on the high end, though obviously without full integration with the other companies’ cloud-based solutions.

Luminar 3 is available for preorder now for $59, a discount from its regular $69 price, including a license good for up to five Macs or PCs. Preorderers get the existing version of the app immediately, plus a download of the upgraded version on December 18.