The 2015 'milestone release' of Adobe's subscription-only Creative Cloud suite of apps and services has arrived, bringing feature updates and speed boosts for 15 of its desktop applications, including Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC (photography), Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC (video editing), Illustrator CC (vector graphics), InDesign CC (page layout) and Dreamweaver CC (web development).
There are also updates to Adobe's ever-growing roster of iOS apps, including Comp CC, Photoshop Mix, Photoshop Sketch, Illustrator Draw, Brush CC, Shape CC and Color CC. Four of these mobile apps -- Brush CC, Shape CC, Color CC and Photoshop Mix -- also become available on Android smartphones for the first time. There's a new iOS app, too: Hue CC, which lets users capture lighting and colour schemes for use in video projects.
Adobe's increasing focus on linking workflow-specific mobile apps and their desktop counterparts via the cloud now has a name: Adobe CreativeSync. The idea is all your 'assets' (files, fonts, design elements, settings, and so on) are always available in your workflow when you need them, allowing you to start a project on your tablet, for example, and complete it on the desktop.
And in a major move, Adobe has launched a new stock photography service, Adobe Stock (the result of its January 2015 Fotolia acquisition). Launching with some 40 million images, Stock will be integrated with the latest releases of Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and After Effects, allowing creatives to add watermarked images to their CC libraries and license images directly from the desktop apps.
Completing the headline announcements for the 2015 update are enhancements for enterprise users, including customer-managed encryption keys, a managed hosting service for storing content behind the company firewall, data encryption in transit and at rest, single sign-on user authentication, and granular control over user access to services.
Key new desktop features
Photoshop CC gets Illustrator-style Artboards, which let you collect designs for different devices (desktop, tablet, phone, for example) in one document and quickly see the effect of your changes.
A new companion iOS app, Preview CC, even lets you connect an iOS device (via wi-fi or USB) to see your mobile designs 'in the flesh'.
There's also an experimental new reduced-clutter UI mode called Design Space, aimed at designers of mobile apps and websites, which aims to minimise mouse movements and clicks. Elsewhere, there's a new image-clarifying Dehaze feature (also available in Lightroom CC), plus speed boosts for the Healing Brush, Spot Healing Brush, and Patch tools.
Illustrator CC is now up to ten times faster than the 2012 Creative Suite 6 version (the last perpetual-licence release), according to Adobe, thanks to a new Mercury Performance System that 'turbocharges' panning, zooming, and scrolling. Talking of zooming, the maximum magnification is now 64,000 percent -- a tenfold increase on the previous limit.
There's also a new Chart interface that lets you create custom charts and infographics plus automatic post-crash document recovery.
InDesign CC, now twice as fast as the CS6 version according to Adobe, lets you place images in table cells, publish a document to an Adobe-hosted URL with a single click, and add colour and shading to paragraphs. And if you keep assets in Creative Cloud libraries, you can now choose to link them and optionally update them wherever they're used in InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop.
Premiere Pro CC gets access to Creative Cloud libraries (catching up with most other CC desktop apps), adds a new Lumetri Color panel for simple slider-driven colour correction, and introduces Morph Cut, which allows you to smooth out jump-cuts in talking-head interview sequences.
Another new feature, Time Tuner, automatically trims a video by removing frames at scene changes, still-image or unchanging sections, or quiet audio passages (useful when you need to accommodate a two-minute ad break, for example).
After Effects CC offers Uninterrupted Preview (adjust properties and panel size during playback), Face Tracker (apply effects to faces via mask tracking) and Adobe Character Animator (use a webcam to track facial movements and record dialogue, and apply them in real time to a preconfigured character).
Dreamweaver CC now allows you to "rapidly build production-ready websites that dynamically adapt to fit various screen sizes, making responsive design a part of your everyday workflow", according to Adobe. More specifically, you can preview your web pages in an actual mobile browser (Device Preview) and batch-extract web-optimised images with multiple resolutions from Photoshop documents (Batch export from PSD).
Adobe Stock is a significant move for the company, putting it in competition with the likes of Shutterstock and iStockphoto. As well as using the CC-integrated photo service, creative users will be able to contribute images and earn money from them -- Adobe will pay 33 percent of revenue from image sales, against an industry average, it claims, of around 25 percent.
For Creative Cloud users, Adobe Stock will cost £7.19 (inc. VAT) for a single image, £23.99 a month with 10 images (unused images roll over to the next month's allowance), or £143.99 a year for 750 images. Separate pricing is available for non-CC users.