(Adobe CS6 Design Standard logo courtesy of Adobe Systems.)
Though there have been plenty of previews of Adobe Creative Suite 6 before today's big product announcement (not the least of which was the public beta of Photoshop CS6), Adobe has now unveiled not only all 14 updated applications, but also its new and much-debated Creative Cloud subscription service. The $75 per month Creative Cloud offering (or $50 per month with an annual membership), serves up all the CS6 applications as well as Adobe Muse and Edge Preview, two new HTML5 products. Originally introduced last fall in conjunction with the original Adobe Touch tablet-based apps, the subscription service not only lets you download and install the Adobe desktop applications to your PC, but it also includes connectivity to Adobe Touch apps and provides 20GB of cloud-based storage so you can access your files from any web browser, and view, synchronize, and share your files across multiple computing devices (e.g., tablet and desktop PCs). Existing users of CS3, CS4, CS5, and CS5.5 are being offered a discounted introductory price of $30 per month and there's also a free membership with only 2GB of storage space that lets you synchronize and share files across devices, and includes 30-day free trials of all the desktop applications included in the paid membership.
For the folks who balk at the idea of a monthly subscription, of course, you can still buy the CS6 apps on their own the traditional way: by coughing up a lot of cash up front. As usual, there are a number of different bundles available-the four this time around comprise CS6 Design & Web Premium ($1,899), Design Standard ($1,299), Production Premium ($1,899), and Master Collection ($2,599). Upgrade pricing is $299 for Design Standard, $399 for the two Premium editions and $549 for Master Collection.
Key application updates include:
Adobe Photoshop CS6: Photoshop (and Photoshop Extended) has been revamped significantly, most noticeably with its darker (though customizable) and more modern interface and major performance increases enabled by hardware acceleration. New features abound as well (see related post), with even more tools that take advantage of content-aware technology. Also significantly, video features that were previously available only in Photoshop Extended have been moved to the standard version, though 3D tools remain in the Extended version.
Adobe Illustrator CS6: Like Photoshop, Illustrator has been updated with a more modern look (dark gray by default, but customizable) and performance boosts via GPU acceleration. Key features include a new image tracing engine, a new pattern creation tool, and the ability to apply gradients to strokes. The new version also includes 64-bit support for both Windows and Mac (as Photoshop has since CS5).
Adobe InDesign CS6: Key features in the updated version of Adobe's page-layout application include new Adaptive Design Tools, including Alternate Layout (lets you easily create multiple layouts of the same document for different devices or prints), Liquid Layout (lets you apply page rules that automatically adapt content as you change layout size, orientation, etc.) , Content Collector Tools (lets you grab multiple pieces of content from an existing layout and repurpose them the same document or different documents), and Linked Content (lets you link content from document to document, or layout to layout within the same document, so changes are applied across the linked text or objects).
Adobe Premiere Pro CS6: As with Photoshop and Illustrator, Adobe's video editing application sports a new interface and big hardware acceleration performance boosts. The streamlined interface includes a new Project Panel with large (and resizable) 16x9 thumbnails that allow you to preview clips by what Adobe calls Hover Scrub (i.e., hovering and sliding your mouse across the thumbnail to scrub through the video) and even click inside the clip to set in and out points. New advanced trimming tools allow you to trim clips directly in the timeline using keyboard shortcuts or dynamically inside the Program Monitor. New adjustment layers let you apply effects across multiple clips (similar to layers in Photoshop) and create masks to make changes to a selected area of a shot.
Adobe is currently taking pre-orders on CS6 and Creative Cloud, both of which are scheduled to be available within 30 days.