One of the chief complaints of Adobe’s software across the board is performance. While many are angry about Adobe’s performance updates not living up to their standards for apps such as Photoshop and, more notoriously, Lightroom, some changes are coming. Additionally, it may also be time to shift the way we think about performance. Here's what's new in Photoshop 2020. Give it a shot.
Some of the performance improvements coming to Photoshop 2020 are traditional performance improvements, as you might imagine such changes. The speed of the File>New dialog in Photoshop has improved dramatically. Whereas this could often take 2 seconds to load, Adobe has reduced this time to just 0.13 seconds. This might not seem like much, but when you use Photoshop every day, every little efficiency adds up quickly. Content-Aware Fill is 12 percent faster and comes with additional ways to choose what content in the layer is sourced. Lens Blur is 4-5 times faster. And general compositing performance is slightly faster, but was “re-architected for a big performance improvement coming in the near future.” Mac users will also be happy about improved performance across the board, especially with things such as file open times.
It’s easy to see how reducing load times for intensive tasks saves time, but adding performance improvements that create as many near real-time experiences as possible also helps create a workflow that feels ready at all times and is less prone to causing fatigue through monotonous several-second waiting games.
Other updates, however, may not be exactly what you had in mind. Adobe worked on the multiple areas of the user interface to improve usability and efficiency. Don’t worry, nothing too drastic has happened to the GUI you’re familiar with. In fact, it’s possible to not even notice any differences on a day-to-day level. But if you take the time to learn the changes, you may discover new one-click shortcuts for common tasks such as removing backgrounds, showing and hiding user guides, managing and creating new presets for gradients and more, and changing between color spaces or bit depths. Various panels and menu items have been adjusted, enhanced, or improved with additional Quick Actions to allow for an average of double the overall efficiency for common tasks when compared to Photoshop 2019. Some tasks are as much as four times faster. Finally, some new features, such as Object Selection Tool, provide additional speed for tasks in certain situations. While this Adobe Sensei-powered feature provides decent results in many circumstances and near-perfect results in ideal conditions with clearly separated subjects, it still won’t become a replacement for the Pen tool for more advanced selections.
These tweaks promote efficiency in a not entirely new way, but at least this time the user interface enhancements come from being placed at a seemingly higher level of importance. These types of improvements do result in saved time and a more pleasurable user experience. Those speed improvement figures quoted earlier — those aren’t just from Adobe. Adobe hired an outside consulting firm to do these comparison tests, which is their way of saying: “Please just try the changes long enough to get used to them, because we know it will help you. Look, they say so, too.”
This serves as a good reminder that performance improvements will always come in incremental steps we may take for granted along the way. But before everyone rushes to add comments of dismay with the lack of a solid jump in performance year over year, remember somewhere apart from those of us with enough spare time to complain on a blog post are hundreds of offices with thousands of people that quietly and happily use Photoshop eight or more hours each day without issue. Maybe we should be a little grateful for how far we’ve come on the eve of Photoshop’s 30th anniversary.
I only say this for one reason: I’ve played around with Photoshop 2020 a bit, and the improvements add up for a nice little release. It makes me feel good. And it saves me some time. What more should an update to a 30-years-old mature product do for you?
Photoshop 2020 is now available for download as an update through the Creative Cloud app on your desktop. Read everything about what's new in Photoshop here.