Adobe unleashes a bevy of new and updated software at its largest conference to date

In the largest Adobe MAX conference yet, on Oct. 18, Adobe announced the launch of four new or newly-out-of-beta applications, including Adobe XD, Dimension, Character Animator, and a completely new Lightroom CC (read our separate article on Lightroom CC). The launch also comes with updates to Adobe’s existing Creative Cloud lineup, including Illustrator and Premiere Pro.

The launch touches on three major themes for next-generation experiences, accelerated creativity and smarter software through the artificial intelligence program, Adobe Sensei. Enhanced collaboration and cross-channel content is also a focus for the latest Adobe releases, all as part of the company’s largest launch since switching to the Creative Cloud (CC) more than five years ago.

Adobe XD

adobe max 2017 software announcements updates xd prototype
Adobe
Adobe

Adobe XD, what Adobe calls an all-in-one user interface tool with “design at the speed of thought,” is now out of beta testing and available as version 1.0. The platform, previously called Adobe Experience Design, is designed for creating websites and apps but focuses on team collaboration. With Creative Cloud integration, the program allows users to share prototypes and gather and apply feedback inside the app, eliminating the need to upload or sync files. CC integration allows the files to also load in other applications, like opening an image in Photoshop and syncing the changes back to the original design.

XD also brings a number of modern contextual tools, like the ability to easily recreate a repeat grid pattern or populate a grid pattern with images and text. Previews load instantly — including the ability to view the preview on a mobile device while working on the file in real time.

Through a new assets panel, XD now allows several elements to be altered at once across the entire app or website design. For example, logos (when saved as symbols), colors and text can all be adjusted simultaneously, instead of manually going back in to adjust the element on every page.

Adobe Dimension

Project Felix also moves from the beta stages to version 1.0, all with a new name as Adobe Dimension. The software is designed for creating 3D graphics with the simplicity of a 2D program, Adobe says. Dimension simplifies the process by using a modular, intuitive user interface. Integration with Adobe Stock as well as Photoshop and Illustrator allows users to place 3D objects within the scene, adjusting effects such as lighting to make the new object match the surroundings. Adobe Sensi is also responsible for a number of features in Dimension 1.0, including auto align and auto horizon tools.

Adobe Character Animator

Adobe Character Animator, a program Adobe previewed during a MAX conference two years ago, has also now fully emerged from development. The program allows designers to create two-dimensional characters inside of Photoshop or Illustrator, then bring them to life using voice and gestures, even for live presentations. Adobe says the program offers accurate lip sync and facial expressions. The new tool also allows designers to animate existing projects.

Updates for photo, video and design programs

A split creating the entirely new Lightroom CC, along with the traditional but re-named Lightroom  Classic rounds out the list of newly launched programs for Adobe. (The Lightroom and Photoshop updates are covered in detail here).

The launch is also bringing a number of new updates to Adobe’s existing favorites. Premiere Pro is gaining several new tools with immersive 360 and virtual reality workflows. Video editors can now also work on multiple projects simultaneously, along with access to new Motion Graphics templates inside of Adobe Stock.

After Effects also sees the same new immersive 360 and virtual reality updates. Enhancements to the GPU give After Effects more speed and more capability for creating effects such as animations and motion blur. Data-driven animations are also part of the release.

Adobe Team Projects 1.0 is also a new tool, designed to allow video editors to collaborate on large projects. The tool is designed to simplify the process of collaborating on video projects using Premiere Pro and After Effects.

Adobe Illustrator gains a new contextual properties panel in the latest update, along with enhancements to the artboard including expanding the limit on the number of boards inside a single file. Variable fonts, with customization made possible through width, slant and weight sliders, is also supported. The design tool also gains a new Puppet Warp tool.

InDesign also sees a number of text-focused updates, with endnotes and paragraph border support and other typographic enhancements.  The position and height of an object can also now be saved inside Object Styles, while text can now be included in the Creative Cloud library.

Typekit, Adobe’s font manager, is also getting a new feature powered by computer vision: reverse type search. The new tool allows designers to upload a photo of a text they like. Adobe Sensi will then work to match the font to the closest existing font in the library.

Adobe also shared Spark Premium during Max, a paid version of the free design platform announced last month. Spark Premium now allows users to remove the Adobe branding and save details from their own brand, like colors and fonts.

Adobe also shared the expanded Adobe Live channel, a designated spot for streaming live tutorials and training videos and where fans can also watch Adobe Max presentations in real-time.

The 2017 Adobe Max event is expected to be the largest one yet, with 12,000 creatives expected, representing 62 different countries.

The new programs and updated software are all available through various CC subscription options.