Adobe might not be the first name that springs to mind when you think smartphone and tablet apps, despite a gradual encroachment into mobile over the last few years. On Monday, the revered software publisher solidified that commitment with the launch of nine new and updated apps and connected services.
The timing coincides with the company's annual Adobe MAX creativity conference, which kicked off at the Los Angeles Convention Center over the weekend. During a livestreamed keynote, executives laid out Adobe's sweeping plans for a "new mobile canvas" that better unites iOS devices with the existing universe of Creative Cloud desktop applications.
What's old is new again
Kicking off the lineup is a pair of existing apps, which have been reinvented for artists who dabble in vectors. Branded after the revered desktop software, Illustrator Line (previously Adobe Line) offers a modern approach to shapes and curves, while Illustrator Draw (formerly Adobe Ideas) provides a mobile canvas with rich tools for bringing creations to life.
On the mobile imaging front, Photoshop Mix is now a universal app that works on either iPad or iPhone, with the ability to capture images using the built-in camera, and full support for Ink, the hardware pen Adobe released earlier this year. Lightroom Mobile has also been updated to import GPS information from iPhone photos, while comments made on web images now sync back to the app as well.
Featuring six new tools such as watercolor, charcoal, and custom brushes, the latest family member Photoshop Sketch (formerly Adobe Sketch) has now become a dual-purpose app capable of creating fully editable vector-based files for use in Illustrator, or traditional bitmapped images intended for Photoshop.
Adobe also launched a third lineage of mobile apps aimed at the video crowd. Essentially a simplified version of the industry-leading Premiere Pro, Premiere Clip has been optimized for quickly creating projects on the go, automatically syncing content in the background to Creative Cloud without consuming your existing storage space.
Like Apple's iMovie, Premiere Clip offers a streamlined way to leverage new or existing videos and photos shot with an iPhone. You can rearrange and trim clips in just a few taps, and the app includes 10 royalty-free soundtracks to mix into your project, alongside existing tracks from iTunes. Smart Volume and Auto Mix options add another layer of polish to your audio, with minimal effort.
On the video front, Premiere Clip features several finishing touches like titles, speed control, creative "looks" intended to produce amazing results quickly, and fade in/out or crossfade between clips. After roughing out a project on iPhone, you can pick up right where your left off on the more expansive iPad display.
Premiere Clip also allows you to upload completed work to popular social networks or share it publicly with other community members. The app can even export XML files that can be opened in Premiere Pro on Mac or PC, where you can further tweak projects using more robust desktop tools. (Exported files are deducted from your Creative Cloud storage.)
Capture your world
Among the more inspired entries this year are what Adobe describes as "capture apps." Along with last year's Kuler (renamed Color) for creating palette themes with an iPhone camera, Brush and Shape offer artists potentially limitless ways to convert real-world objects into content that can be incorporated into their own work.
In just a few steps, Adobe Brush converts captured images for use with Sketch or desktop versions of Photoshop and Illustrator. The app includes a variety of brush types in black-and-white or RGB color, touch-based controls for refining captured objects, and independent adjustment of the brush head and tail for seamless repetition.
Likewise, Adobe Shape converts anything shot with an iPhone camera into editable vector graphics. You can clean up images in just a few strokes of a fingertip, then converted them to high-quality live vectors using the same technology Adobe has built into Illustrator over three decades.
Brush and Shape creations automatically sync to your Creative Cloud profile, where you can use them in full 1:1 fidelity with other compatible mobile or desktop apps. You can stamp custom brushes and shapes onto a canvas with complete control over size, opacity, and color.
Bridge over mobile waters
This link between mobile and desktop is made possible by the new Creative Cloud Libraries, which lets you access, use, and create colors, text styles, brushes, images, and graphics. Elements you save to Creative Cloud on one device are instantly available everywhere else, ready to be dragged and dropped into projects--even while offline.
The same kind of interoperability will finally be available to third-party apps, thanks to the launch of Adobe's Creative SDK 1.0. Announced in June and now officially out of beta, the software development kit allows developers to create apps capable of hooking directly into Creative Cloud, with more than a dozen partners already shipping connected products and services.
Although Apple has yet to embrace touchscreen Macs, Adobe continues to blaze trails into the Windows market with touch-enabled applications hardware like Surface Pro. In addition to two-finger touch enhancements for Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and After Effects, Adobe Illustrator CC has been updated with an all-new workspace optimized for multi-touch gestures. The more tactile workflow also includes a streamlined user interface that keeps the focus squarely on touch-friendly tools.
No desktop left behind
Following major desktop software updates in June, Adobe also announced a variety of additional feature improvements Monday, including improved Mercury performance and new 3D printing profiles in Photoshop CC, an enhanced 3D pipeline for After Effects CC, EPUB interactivity for InDesign CC, search bins in Premiere Pro, and a new Curvature tool for Illustrator CC.
Another new feature included with today's Photoshop CC and Dreamweaver CC updates will make life easier for web designers as well. Extract aims to simplify the comp-to-code workflow by allowing Photoshop users to package optimized image assets from layers, while Dreamweaver users can at last drag and drop assets directly out of PSD files. Developers can even pull assets straight from shared Photoshop files on the Creative Cloud website.
Last but not least, the Behance creative social network that joined Adobe last year appears to be thriving, with four million members and more than 20,000 new portfolios added daily. To help employers find talent more easily, the service has introduced Talent Search, advanced portfolio-based hiring tools that leverage Adobe imaging science to find the right talent for the right job.
Ready for download
All of Adobe's October desktop product updates are now available to paid Creative Cloud members from the CC Desktop app, while the mobile apps can be downloaded today from the App Store, requiring only a free Adobe ID and devices running iOS 7.0 or later. Android support is promised for the future.