Adobe's Creative Cloud suite of design, photography and other software has had a massive overhaul overnight. 14 updated desktop apps, three new and unique iPad apps, and for the first time ever some hardware -- an interactive ruler and pressure-sensitive artist's pen -- combine to create a pretty compelling reason to ditch the old software and move into the cloud.
All the pricing details for Adobe's various new Creative Cloud plans can be found on its website, but here's the basics: in Australia, you'll pay $49.99 per month (on a 12-month contract) for the full Creative Cloud suite of downloadable apps. If you want to pay by the month with the option to cancel at any time, $74.99 is what you'll pay.
If you only want a single app, you're up for a minimum of $19.99 per month, and if you want the specialised Photography suite with Photoshop, Lightroom and Lightroom Mobile you can get by paying only $9.99/month -- actually pretty cheap. If you're an existing Creative Suite user, you get a discount if you commit to a year of the full Creative Cloud program, paying only $29.99 per month ($359.88 annually).
Updated Creative Cloud 2014 Apps
A grand total of 14 of Adobe's programs have received updates of varying degrees with the Creative Cloud 2014 launch. Photoshop CC, Premiere Pro CC, InDesign CC and almost all of Adobe's other Creative Cloud (and formerly Creative Suite and Master Collection) apps have had updates of varying degrees, generally to improve usability and implement what Adobe's evangelist Paul Burnett calls "JDIs" -- those "just do it" tweaks that everyday users of the apps clamour for.
As part of the ever-expanding Creative Cloud suite, Adobe now has a Creative Cloud management app for the iPhone and iPad that lets you remotely manage your apps and subscriptions and cloud storage content. Adobe definitely has a close relationship with Apple, which is a bit of a pity if you're an Android user, but great if you're an Apple-toting designer.
Adobe's New, Free iPad Apps
As part of today's announcement, Adobe has three new mobile apps. They're initially for iPad, but if you only have an iPhone, don't be dismayed -- other tailor-made apps are on the way for iPhones soon. They're all free, too, and are on the App Store now. Adobe gave us a quick look at the new apps a few days ago, and whether you're a pro or a first-time artist, you should be impressed.a
Photoshop Mix is essentially a cut-down version of the Photoshop desktop program, and it's made specifically for the iPad. Its interface is tailored to a smaller, touch-sensitive screen, and you can pinch to zoom and swipe with various multi-finger gestures for undo actions and history control and so on. Most interesting about Photoshop Mix is that, since it's part of Adobe's finally properly cloud-enabled apps, it can offload some of the heavier calculations like Content-Aware Fill and so on to Adobe's online servers.
Adobe Sketch and Line are less revolutionary, but they're similarly both made from the ground up to work on the iPad. Sketch is, like the name suggests, a sketchbook app that lets you load in photos from storage (local or cloud) or snap a photo with your iPad's camera and doodle on top of it.
Line is slightly more professional, and is aimed at amateur or occasional architecture and drafting buffs -- any scene template you start with has an adjustable perspective grid. You can draw with your finger or a touch-sensitive stylus, or get a little more serious and work with lines and edges in more detail ; this is where the new Ink and Slide hardware come in handy.
New Hardware -- The Ink And Slide
The Ink is Adobe's first pressure-sensitive, Bluetooth-enabled pen for the iPad, working with Photoshop Mix and the other free Adobe apps. Apart from being a beautiful piece of hardware and working as a drawing stylus, the Ink connects via the iPad to Adobe's Creative Cloud servers, accessing any creative user's stored fonts, colours, stored photos, or other content that can be directly downloaded and imported into whatever drawing you're working on.
The Slide seems to work mostly as a complement to the Ink; it's similarly Bluetooth-enabled and can be used to position and reposition straight lines and edges in both Sketch and Line. Beyond that, the length of the ruler lets you add and resize shapes into your artworks like French curves, circles and so on.