Adobe is the king of creative software but not ready to rest on its laurels. After revamping its boxed Creative Suite software into cloud-connected, subscription-based, regularly updated Creative Cloud, Adobe has set itself up to respond more quickly to the fast-changing industries it serves.
As more powerful mobile devices make it possible to do real creative work away from a computer, Adobe is rolling out a new suite of mobile-first apps and hardware designed to keep a creative worker's assets, color palettes, and files available everywhere. Adobe announced these new creations Wednesday at an event in New York, along with updates for 14 of the major Creative Cloud desktop apps, including new features and performance enhancements.
Ink and Slide, alongside Sketch and Line
Adobe has never designed hardware before, but when it surveyed its user base of creative professionals, it found a couple data points that pointed to a huge opportunity: A third of the survey respondents wanted to do real creative work on a mobile device, but the same percentage say that when they aren't using the computer, their go-to tools are paper and pencil.
Adobe's new Ink smart pen and Slide ruler let you draw on your iPad with a similar feel to pen and paper. But you can also lay down shapes, quickly add perspective to your drawings, get feedback from other creatives through the integrated Behance network, and of course save your assets, files, and color swatches up to your Creative Cloud account, so they're accessible from the other CC apps.
In fact, your Creative Cloud account (including a free account) is actually tied to the Bluetooth Ink stylus itself. You can use your own Ink stylus with any iPad running a compatible Adobe app, and your assets will appear in the app without you having to log in — just pairing the Ink is all it takes.
Ink ships with Slide, which is a 3-inch ruler that works with the iPad as well. Slide requires no power — capacative pads on its bottom rest on the iPad's screen, and when you place your fingertip on top of the Slide, that completes the circuit and lets the iPad "see" it. Then you can draw precision lines and curves, or use the built-in Staedtler templates, French curves, pre-drawn shapes, trace packs, and stamp packs to quickly add stylized elements to your drawings — great for designers and architects, or just amateurs fooling around.
Adobe developed two new iPad-only apps alongside Ink and Slide, called Adobe Sketch and Adobe Line, with each iteration of the hardware affecting the software's design and vice versa. For example, as cool as the Slide is, you need two hands to use it — one for the Slide and one to hold the pen. So Adobe added a purely digital version of the Slide into the Adobe Line app, called Touch Slide. That way if you're holding your iPad with one hand and drawing with the other (say, at a museum, or outdoors), you can still use slide by placing it on your screen virtually and then using your hand to draw with the Ink stylus.
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