What is Prisma and how does it work?

These days, it's not enough to make a simple photo effects app. To stand out, companies need to create effects using complicated machine learning algorithms that create creative and unique pieces of art in the style of Munk, Picasso and Van Gogh. At least that's what the team behind Prisma believes.

What is Prisma?

Prisma is a photo effects app whose workflow mimics that of popular photo sharing apps like Instagram and EyeEm. At its core is a simple viewfinder that takes square images to which you can apply around 30 filters, many of which are modelled in the style of famous painters like Van Gogh and Picasso.

Once those filters are applied, you can then choose to save it to your phone, share with with Facebook or Instagram, or, using Android's Share button, to any number of other apps.

Download: Prisma (free)

What's so special about Prisma over other similar photo apps?

Prisma is by no means the first app to produce beautiful, fantastical, and psychedelic photos using filters, but the consensus around the internet is that it does it the best. The secret sauce is AI — yes, artificial intelligence — that processes each photo differently depending on the filter. The app reportedly learns and adapts the way it implements these filters over time, using the data it gets from each person's photos.

So that means Prisma can see all my photos?

Yes, because Prisma uses A.I. and machine learning to dynamically change each photo, the app requires an internet connection to work properly. That also means that Prisma, as per its terms and conditions, gets to use the photos you upload for its own purposes, though you continue to own the photos indefinitely.

"Prisma does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Prisma a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you stylize on or through the Service."

What about my privacy? How much data does Prisma collect?

Like many free, ad-based services, Prisma collects a decent amount of data about you that it anonymizes and shares with third-party marketing companies and advertisers to better target you with ads. While right now the app is fairly basic, and ad-free, we're already seeing a business model in the form of sponsored filters, and the company's privacy policy specifies that it will use information about your Android device to share with affiliates and third-party advertisers.

We may share User Content and your information (including but not limited to, information from cookies, log files, device identifiers, location data, and usage data) with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Prisma is part of, or that become part of that group ("Affiliates").

At this point, Prisma's terms and privacy policy is boilerplate stuff, but it's worth keeping note of the specifics.

How do you use Prisma?

Prisma is easy to use. When you first open the app, you'll see a square viewfinder with a virtual shutter button.

Taking a new photo in Prisma

  1. Open the Prisma app.
  2. Locate a subject you want to photograph. The higher the contrast between the subject and background, the better.
  3. Tap on shutter button.
  4. Select a filter from the horizontal list. Wait for it to process.

  5. Select effect intensity by sliding finger horizontally across photo (if desired).
  6. Choose a destination to save or share the photo to.

Using an existing photo in Prisma

  1. Open the Prisma app.
  2. Select the Gallery thumbnail on the bottom right.
  3. Choose a photo for filtering.

  4. Select a filter from the horizontal list. Wait for it to process.
  5. Select effect intensity by sliding finger horizontally across photo (if desired).
  6. Choose a destination to save or share the photo to.

Thanks, but I keep seeing a Prisma logo at the bottom right of my photos

That's a feature Prisma turns on by default to spread the brand through Instagram and Facebook as the app gains traction. Thankfully it's easy to turn off.

How to remove the Prisma logo watermark from your photos

I can't connect to Prisma right now, it keeps telling me it's over capacity!

Prisma is really popular, and because the app relies on the remote processing to generate all those amazing effects, sometimes the servers are overloaded. That's OK, though, because we have some ways to get you back to being Prismatic, fast.

Prisma app over capacity or slow? Help, tips and tricks for quicker artworks

I love this app! How do I share my creations with the world?

Well, millions of people are sharing their Prisma creations on social networks like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #prisma, but we've also got a great place to share them — Android Central's forums!

Share your Prisma pics on the Android Central forums!

Anything else I need to know?

Prisma on Android is still in its infancy, and there are some bugs to be worked out. Some people are still getting errors when generating photos, or seeing strange notifications. Give it some time, and the company will likely work out those issues.