Adobe is grouping its three “storytelling apps” for iOS – Post, Slate, and Voice – under a new umbrella, called Adobe Spark. The apps will remain as individual downloads, with a slight name change (Post becomes Spark Post, Slate is now Spark Page, and Voice is now Spark Video). Spark Post is also now available for the iPad, while Spark Page now supports the iPhone. Otherwise, with the exception of new snap guides, each app’s features and functionalities remain the same.
But the big announcement is that Spark now has a free (no Adobe Creative Cloud subscription required, but you will need an Adobe ID, Facebook, or Google account to log in), web-based component where users can access the features of all three apps in one place. You can create graphics for social media (Spark Post), a website (Spark Page), or animated video (Spark Video) as easily as you would with the apps, but with a different-style workflow on your desktop or laptop.
“Users need solutions that work seamlessly across platforms, including the web,” said Aubrey Cattell, the general manager of Adobe Spark. The web version also opens up the tools to non-iOS users for the first time. Mobile web isn’t supported, however.
Adobe created the Spark apps as tools to help anyone without experience in design software to become creatives. You don’t need to know anything about sizing photos, color palettes, or typography. Just place a photo or video, and the apps will automatically guide you in making content that’s what Adobe refers to as “visually engaging experiences.” While good design is subjective, Spark apps do a good job at creating good-looking content.
With the web app, you can create the aforementioned mediums, but in one place, which gives it a different workflow experience. According to Cattell, “you just need to know how to drag a text box” to use Spark. Templates aren’t rigid, and you can’t make mistakes that you can’t fix. Post, for example, is smart enough to match fonts that you can easily manipulate, while ensuring colors are complementary to those in a photo. It even finds free-to-use Creative Commons photos you can use in your projects. With the mobile apps, Spark supports Live Photos, and there are themes (preset templates) you can use to quickly create things like newsletters or ads.
Everything is sync to the cloud, so you can start a project on an iPhone or iPad, and finish it later on your computer. Unless you’re on an ancient machine, the experience is responsive, and projects scale to whatever-size screen you’re using, whether it’s your 27-inch monitor or iPad Mini. As with the mobile apps, the web-based version is intuitive.
The one thing we wish the web app did is a way to actually tie the three different tools together. For example, a design scheme created in Post cannot be easily replicated in Page. For anyone who wants to create different content with a single design language, you pretty much have to start from scratch with each project. While you can’t currently save a template for use later, Adobe says it’s looking into it for future updates. A useful addition in the web version are a blog with tutorials and an inspirational gallery where you can study (and mimic) successful designs.
The mobile apps and web app are available to anyone, but Adobe is gearing them toward small business owners who don’t have a big marketing budget, social media users, and students. In places where you’re vying for eyeballs, whether it’s an ad, Instagram post, Giphy meme, or book report, visual elements can get attention. In its research, Adobe found a market of users who are over-served by Adobe’s existing pro tools, but underserved by its productivity tools, Cattell said.
As part of the launch, Adobe is working with Facebook Blueprint and Change.org on online learning initiatives. Adobe is putting tutorial content on Facebook Blueprint on how to use Spark for effective marketing on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, while Change.org will target cause-based and crowdfunding campaigns.
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