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Commentary: Adobe Unveils 'Big Splash' Creative Cloud Release Including New iPad Apps and Major Photoshop and After Effects Updates

New After Effects features include additional keying effects, Kuler integration, and the ability to create live text templates and to share masks with Premiere Pro; Photoshop gets more powerful Smart Objects, Improved Layer Comps and Content-Aware technology, Blur Gallery motion effects, and a Focus Mask

When Adobe announced Creative Cloud in April 2012, and later went subscription-only in May, 2013 one primary motivation was the ability to continuously update the individual products in the suite. With the 2014 release of Creative Cloud, Adobe proves that the “continuously update” mode of operation doesn’t preclude a big splash of new products and services. In the June 2014 release, Adobe released 14 updated versions of the CC desktop apps, three new mobile apps, and two new hardware devices, a new plan for photographers, and key optimizations to educational and enterprise plans. Adobe also announced that there were over 2.3 million Creative Cloud subscriptions, which the company said far exceeded their original projections from 2012.

If you’re scratching your head and wondering, Didn’t Adobe just seriously update Premiere Pro?, the answer is yes, but that was part of this release. Specifically, Adobe previewed the Premiere Pro updates at NAB 2014, which included several key new features, including live text templates, masking and tracking, and master clip effects, as well as updated format support and enhanced graphics performance. You can read about those updates and watch a tutorial showing them in action in the April article, Tutorial: New Features in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. Accordingly, the June launch focused on other products, and so will this article.

Briefly, After Effects is a key application for many video producers; new features include additional keying effects, Kuler integration, and the ability to create live text templates and to share masks with Premiere Pro. Photoshop, another application used by many video pros, got more powerful Smart Objects, Improved Layer Comps and Content-Aware technology, Blur Gallery motion effects, and a Focus Mask.


One of the major benefits of the Creative Cloud is the ability to store preferences and other settings in the cloud, and to easily transfer your license from machine to machine. This makes it simple to use the applications on different computers and quickly duplicate your work environment.

What’s stored in the cloud varies between the various applications. With Premiere Pro, it’s preferences and settings, workspace layouts, and keyboard shortcuts. With Photoshop, it’s a lot more, including swatches, custom shapes, tool presets, actions, styles, patterns, brushes, gradients and contours. These stored settings, and the ability to transfer them from machine to machine is key because many creative professionals will soon be working on their iPads, courtesy of three new iPad applications launched with this update, Adobe Sketch, Adobe Line, and Photoshop Mix (Figure 1, below). When they do, the major settings from the desktop applications will follow them along.

Figure 1. The three new iPad apps for Creative Cloud users.

Briefly, Adobe Sketch is a freeform drawing tool, with a graphite pencil, an ink pen, two blending markers (brush tip, chisel tip), and an eraser. I haven’t seen the program, but apparently you can receive live feedback while you work. Adobe Line is for precision drawing and drafting, and includes tools like rulers, T-squares and shape templates, and Kuler color themes. Photoshop Mix is for compositing and masking, and includes Content Aware Fill, Camera Shake Reduction, and the ability to open and save PSD files.

All three new apps are free and available in the Apple App Store; you don’t even need a paid subscription to the Creative Cloud to install them. You will need an iPad running iOS 7 or above, and at least initially, Adobe won’t be releasing Android versions.

Photoshop Mix was created using Adobe’s New Creative SDK (software development kit), a software library that enables the creation of mobile apps that integrate with Creative Cloud apps and leverage key Adobe technologies like “Touch Slide” software for straight line drawing and cloud image-editing services like Content-Aware Fill and Upright. The SDK is currently in private beta with select developers with a beta launch planned for later this year.

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