An iOS app named Prisma has shot up in popularity in 10 post-Soviet countries, vaulting to the top spot in the App Store in record time.

At first glance, what the app does is not particularly special or unique. Through it, users can transform photos that they have taken into paintings that look like they were done by famous artists. However, it should be noted that Prisma is much deeper than applying simple filters.

Prisma, developed by Russian programmer Alexey Moiseenkov, utilizes artificial intelligence to transform images into paintings in the style of world renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch and Vincent Van Gogh. The app uses a deep learning method named convolutional neural networks, and only refers to the original picture for guidance in the creation of the final image.

Post-Soviet developers are known for creating image manipulation software that utilizes artificial intelligence. Masquerade, a Belarussian startup which was acquired by Facebook earlier in the year, utilizes a self-learning algorithm for altering the faces of users in images or videos. The app, however, is limited to fitting effects to various facial shapes.

Prisma is able to do so much more compared with Masquerade. The convolutional neural networks that power the app are capable of learning certain styles after being trained on them through several images, and are then able to apply the styles to a different image.

Previously, only humans are able to separate the content of a painting with the technique and style used to create it. The artificial intelligence powering Prisma, however, has gained such an ability, learning the styles of famous painters and then creating images using that style, with the pictures that users supply to the app being used only as a reference for a new image.

The outputs of the app are a visual treat, like having your images repainted by the masters themselves. As such, the downloads of Prisma have reached well within the hundreds of thousands, with its popularity reaching into social networks filling users' walls with transformed images from the app.

The code that was created by Moiseenkov and his company for Prisma is hosted by, which had to double the server capacity being allocated to Prisma daily due to its massive number of users.

The app's popularity has pushed Mail.Ru, one of the leading internet companies in Russia and controlled by billionaire Alisher Usmanov, to acquire a 10 percent stake in Prisma, just over a week since it was launched on the App Store.

For Android users, Prisma will be coming to the Google Play Store next month.

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