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Canva, the popular Australian-based graphic design platform, is boosting its efforts to target enterprise business users with today’s release of Canva Docs, part of its Visual Worksuite that was launched in September. 

Generative AI plays a big role in the release: Canva Docs incorporates the company’s recently-released text-to-image beta built on Stable Diffusion, as well as the newly-announced Magic Write, an AI-powered copywriting assistant built on OpenAI’s GPT-3. 

Cameron Adams, cofounder and chief product officer of Canva, says that in 2015 the company started allowing users to create presentations in Canva, which “was a real pivotal moment,” he explained. During COVID-19, he added, remote-working employees needed to communicate with colleagues differently and were looking for tools. 

“We saw a massive spike in presentations growth and now we’re sitting at about 40 million presentations that get created every single month in Canva,” he said. “So we started laying the foundation for a more team-based take on what Canva is.” 

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Canva has worked ‘heavily’ with OpenAI

Adams said Canva has been working “heavily” with OpenAI to hone in on the Magic Write use case for Canva. “One of the things that OpenAI is great at is machine learning, but they’re not so great at productizing stuff,” he said. “And that’s what Canva is really great at, so the team has been working together to use the text-generation engine and really deliver it in a form that works for people.” 

Magic Write allows users to simply type what they are looking for and quickly create strategy documents, meeting agendas or marketing briefs. They can generate a new version of existing text by highlighting it and adding an instruction – to turn a paragraph into a list or paraphrasing.

Then, users can turn to Canva’s library of videos, images, graphics and charts, as well as the Text to Image tool to create and add images and art from a simple description. 

Canva is not new to machine learning

Canva is not new to the world of machine learning: It has had a team for the past five years, mostly working behind the scenes, said Adams. “There’s lots of recommendations in Canva that are powered by machine learning, such as suggesting the next template that you should use based on what you’ve created before,” he explained, adding that the company also acquired the Vienna-based Kaleido in 2021, which is famous for their background-removal tool. 

“When we first saw machine learning applied to images, first with the background remover and then with DALL-E, it just really blew our mind,” he said. “So many thoughts went through our mind about how we could use this at Canva, a visual communication tool.” 

More generative AI capabilities are coming

Adams said Canva is still developing its generative AI capabilities: “Text-to-image was the first step and Magic Writer is the second step,” he said, adding that the company will launch other capabilities at an event in March. 

“A lot of it will be themed around machine learning and helping people unlock their creativity because really, that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “It’s production, putting a lot of the technology that has been developing over the last few years into a form that people can use functionally, that they can actually use for a job that they’re trying to get done.” 

That includes using the generative AI capabilities collaboratively in teams, he explained.

“One of the things that we’re super-conscious about is making sure that our real-time collaboration and asynchronous collaboration works for all sorts of tasks,” he said. “So even for something that’s been generated by AI, you can jump in and get someone else to actually collaborate in the same documents.”

Canva Docs can be shared like any other Canva design: Users can choose whether they want to share it directly with their team or the public, with comment, view or edit permissions. It can also be shared as an interactive website.

Canva Docs, Magic Write and Text-to-Image are in open beta. Users can access Magic Write for free up to 25 times or access additional queries with Canva Pro and Canva for Teams.

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