Adobe was very clear that the 2014 updates were mainly focused on what they have seen to be a rapidly evolving market: Mobile. Adobe is seeing a rapid pace of change, explosion of mobile, and a world that is continually and incredibly connected. But their software, for real-work at least, is still tethered to a desk. Adobe thinks this is a problem, and sought to solve it. They have done research and found that it’s hard for creatives to keep up, and in a survey of 1000 people 3/4 of them agreed with the statement that the creative world has changed more in the past five than in the previous 50. Their jobs are changing, and will change dramatically in the next year to five years.
From that same group, 1/3 of the creatives wanted to use mobile devices for serious work, and the same percentage still use pen and paper outside of a desktop. They found that there is a distinct desire for creatives to have everything on hand with them at all times to do what they need to do, even away from a desk.
It is from this information that Adobe has really based their improvements and product offerings for 2014. Their goal is to give people real power on mobile devices.
But besides that, every major desktop app today got a major update- performance boosts, workflow efficiencies, hardware and formats expansion (like touch for Windows tablets), and Adobe Magic. They completely rebuilt Adobe Muse as a native 64 bit application and said they are "making constant improvements to the most used aspects of the applications."
Back to the subject of mobile: they are attempting to make professional-class creative workflows for iPad. What does that mean? For one, you need to have access to who you are and what you want no matter where you are. That is, in their view, the benefit of the cloud system. They can now connect you to your content on any device from any location. These apps need to be powerful yet easy, accessible for both pros and anyone. On that note, they introduced three new apps, all for iPad: Adobe Photoshop Mix, Adobe Sketch and Adobe Line.
Photoshop Mix "brings deep Photoshop tech to mobile for the first time." It contains access to much-used software pieces like content aware fill, upright and camera shake reduction.
The cool part is how they are bypassing the limitations of your mobile hardware by taking all the computing power into the cloud. When you choose to do a very intensive action on your iPad, like using the shake reduction tool, the iPad sends the request to the cloud-hosted content and calculates the edits on Adobe's servers, not on your iPad.
This is a very clever, tricky solution to getting those super-intensive workflows onto a mobile machine that would normally be heavily encumbered, or downright brick-walled, by such an action. I watched the process happen in a demo that unfortunately had terrible WiFi internet speeds, but the app still didn't take terribly long to do the actions. On LTE or on solid WiFi, the process is sure to be pleasantly snappy.
(Screen Shots of Mix provided by Adobe)
Adobe Sketch brings drawing, community and inspiration all into one app. Get inspiration from Behance, publish and get feedback all through one interface. Since the pen and paper were still so highly used by Creatives, Adobe wanted to try and tackle that market with an application that made sense.
Finally, Adobe Line "brings precision drawing to the iPad."
Ok, so those last two sort of make sense, but it would be hard to believe that the mobile apps would actually replace a pen and paper... except that Adobe is bringing their projects Mighty and Napoleon to market. You know, that digital stylus pen and drawing ruler that they debuted as demo products at MAX 2013? Both products are available to purchase today.
The product that was codenamed "Mighty" is now the product known as Adobe Ink. It is a three-sided hydroformed aluminum stylus that is pressure sensitive with Adobe Apps on the iPad. It can be used for controlled expressive drawing and the pen itself, and your personal settings with that pen, is connected to CC. You can get everything from CC from the push of a button on the pen. You can even copy and paste across devices.
Project "Napoleon" is now Adobe Slide. The Companion to Ink, it is a three-inch ruler that "reinvents drafting for the digital age." It brings modern tech to designers who want to work on iPad.
Since the pen is “CC connected” it requires an internet connection at times. So if you are using a mobile app and want a cloud stored item, you would need it for that action. Otherwise it will work fine without a connection.
Both Ink and Slide are sold together as a set for $199 and will be available in North America only to start, with a rollout of international markets later this year.
The aforementioned apps Line and Sketch have been optimized for the hardware, but don’t require either Ink or Slide. They still work well without it, which is good news for those markets without the new hardware (basically anyone not in the US or Canada).
Both Ink and Slide will work outside of Adobe apps, but you don’t get pressure sensitivity or the other bonuses- so it’s ONLY optimized and tested for iPad at this time. It's important to note that if it’s not getting pressure data for a period of time, it might go to sleep if it doesn’t work on an unsupported touch screen.
Ok, so the pen and slide tools only work with Adobe apps. This would be lame right? Adobe seems to agree, which is why they are releasing their SDK as open source for anyone to build apps onto.
The SDK is a software library that allows mobile developers to connect to CC. You can access all CC content anywhere on any device. This access unlocks 30 years of Adobe imaging tech all in one place, with more to come. What's more... its free. SDK will cost nothing and it is in private beta at creativesdk.adobe.com where anyone can apply to get access to the private beta early. By October at MAX 2014, they hope for more partners using the SDK to show what opening their software has done.
From Adobe's standpoint, the services layer ties everything together. The last year has been spent working to enhance the CC desktop application, but now they want to focus on delivering their services to mobile. Do you think you, as a photographer, will be doing more of your work from mobile devices? We'll see if Adobe's shift in focus pays off in the long run.
I know some of you will be wondering where the Android support is, and when asked that Adobe responded by saying that they will support the mediums where there is the highest demand, and that's why they focused on iPad first, with rollout to Android to come on the devices that call for it the most.