Adobe’s annual MAX conference is well underway in LA, and as usual there’s a big buzz around changes to the Creative Cloud suite.
Adobe’s product line often seems archaic—parts of Photoshop’s first codebase were originally painted onto the walls of caves by neanderthals—but this iterative approach also provides a solid platform to venture into new ground in ways that would bankrupt a startup.
Not only has Adobe pivoted into prototyping with XD, overtaking the existing market in a brief couple of years, but it’s now applying the same approach to new markets, where the competition is even thinner on the ground.
Adobe XD Updates
Since May, when we reported that Adobe XD is now free, interest in the platform has grown exponentially. Despite interesting additions to Lightroom and Premier Pro CC, it’s XD that’s getting all the attention at MAX.
XD has new features, taking it far beyond any of its competition; you can now use XD to design for voice, and there are substantial changes to the animation design process that users have been asking for, for some time. XD’s $0 price tag means its business model is as a lure, to tempt designers into the rest of the CC product range, and as expected, tighter integration with other apps including Illustrator and After Effects has been unveiled.
If you’ve been wavering, now’s a great time to pick up XD.
Photoshop CC on the iPad
Adobe has often talked a good game when it comes to device compatibility, and its mobile apps have always seemed slick, but very few creatives actually use them professionally; they just don’t have enough functionality.
Not since the first wide-eyed discovery of large touch screens has there been a more convincing reason to buy an iPad
That may now be about to change as Adobe has unveiled the hotly anticipated Photoshop CC on the iPad, due to launch sometime in 2019. The big news is that Photoshop CC on the iPad isn’t an iPad version of Photoshop, it’s the Photoshop. With a UI repurposed for touch screens, but with the full Photoshop engine behind it, it makes design work on the iPad a realistic possibility for the first time.
Apple must be thrilled. Not since the first wide-eyed discovery of large touch screens has there been a more convincing reason to buy an iPad.
To further boost Apple sales, Adobe have also unveiled Project Gemini.
Gemini is an as-yet unnamed drawing and painting app that combines bitmap and vector graphic editing. Having sat through a demo of the watercolor brushes, I have to admit, what they’ve achieved is astounding—even if a single painting effect has limited shelf life.
Almost all of the additions to Adobe’s product line come curtesy of Sensei. Sensei is Adobe’s AI project, and it’s backing it big time.
Small intelligent tools are making their way into all Adobe apps. The belief is that over time, Sensei will be intelligent enough to automate tedious tasks, freeing us to be creative. It’s not there yet; personally, I’m not convinced it will ever be entirely there. But you only have to look at additions like the intelligent fill in Photoshop, to see how much Adobe is investing in this technology.
For more evidence of Adobe’s relentless march into the future, and its surprisingly nimble ability to pivot into new markets, look no further than Project Aero.
Aero is still in heavy development, but it’s an AR design tool. Yes, it’s primitive now, but that’s exactly what we said about XD three years ago.
Illustrator CC Updates
Designers who tire of hearing about hot new products, while they earn their bread and butter with “classic” applications, will be thrilled to learn that Illustrator has finally received some long-overdue attention.
There’s an intelligent new tool UI, and the introduction of more natural gradients—again, powered by Sensei. Perfect for anyone joyfully burning their Flat Design rulebook this year.
Arguably the biggest announcement of the day, at least when it comes to everyday design tasks, is the news that Adobe Fonts—yes, the long-expected renaming of Typekit has finally happened—has had its sync limits removed; you’ll no longer have to unsync half your font library just to sync the fonts for your new client’s project.
There are no web page view limits, and no domain limits. No one’s pretending it’s as good value as Google Fonts, but then Google Fonts don’t sync to your design apps, and it’s the small benefits that make the biggest difference to our process.
Adobe covets the idea of creative freedom; freedom to work anywhere, freedom to work any how, freedom to work on any thing. What has been unveiled at MAX today, offers a real opportunity for designers to be freer in their process, and in the coming years, freer in the projects they accept.
You can see all the new features of Creative Cloud by watching the MAX Keynotes.