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Adobe launches betas of Photoshop, Illustrator for the web

Few people thought that an application as complex and computationally intensive as Photoshop would be possible on the web. But Adobe today launched a web version of not only Photoshop, but also Illustrator, as well as several new online experiences.

However, certain qualifications are required. Like when Adobe launched Photoshop on the iPad, it’s not the all Photoshop and Illustrator toolset, but web apps let you open documents and make basic edits. They also allow you to comment and share work with collaborators. The Photoshop web app is labeled as beta, and Illustrator on the web is an invite-only, private beta.

Adobe Photoshop on the web offers basic editing features.

The web versions rely on the same cloud documents required in the iPad versions of Creative Cloud software. Adobe has already put the Creative Cloud management application on the web. Two completely new online features that you access from this interface join the web versions of old watches: Creative Cloud Spaces and Creative Cloud Canvas.

Adobe Creative Cloud spaces

Creative cloud spaces

Creative cloud spaces is an online repository for your team’s assets, with collaboration and shared content in a single interface. You can access it either from the Creative Cloud web interface or in Photoshop, Illustrator, XD, and Fresco on desktop or iPad. Creative cloud backdrop this is what it looks like: an online collaborative workspace. According to Adobe’s blog, contributors can “place shapes, text, stickers, images, and working files from other Creative Cloud apps” onto a canvas on which a team can collaborate in real time.

Creative cloud backdrop

Creative cloud backdrop

Adobe developed the new web tools with its own staff to get feedback on them. “The Adobe Design team has been working with these new tools over the past few months, and they’ve changed the way we work together,” said Eric Snowden, vice president of design at Adobe. “Putting teamwork and collaboration at the heart of Creative Cloud democratizes access and creates transparency around creative projects like never before.

Application updates: Photoshop and Illustrator

But it’s not all web and cloud at Max. Good old programs installed on desktops and tablets are also seeing some cool new features. Photoshop becomes more powerful Object selection tool with auto-hide on hover. Here’s what it looks like: you access the object selection tool and it uses Adobe’s Sensei AI to detect all objects in the image. A related menu option, Layer > Mask All Objects, creates separate masks for all detected objects in a layer.

Auto-hide auto-hover in Adobe Photoshop

Hover over auto-hide in Adobe Photoshop.

Neural filters, launched at last year’s Max show, is also getting a boost. The new Landscape Mixer filters allow you to change the season of a scene, for example from summer to autumn, or to make a midday scene look like it was shot at sunset. Another theme with the new AI is harmonization. By this, Adobe means that hidden objects can be rendered in the colors and tones of the filter. So if you have a portrait on one layer and a landscape on another, the color and tone are mixed on both. Another filter, Color Transfer, lets you apply colors and tones from one image to another. Other neural filters seeing updates include Depth Blur, Superzoom, Style Transfer, and Colorize.

An old standby Photoshop, Gradients, gets a major update: you now have three choices between Classic Mode, Perceptual Mode, and Linear Mode. Perception is based on how we perceive light and seems best to me.

New gradient options in Photoshop

New gradient options in Photoshop.

Designers will rejoice that you can now paste vector shapes from Illustrator into Photoshop while retaining editing capabilities. There are many more updates, which you can read about in Adobe’s Photoshop blog post.

The iPad version of Photoshop is getting a huge update with the addition of just one feature: Camera Raw capability. The iPad app’s inability to accept Raw camera files was a big gap between it and the desktop program.

The new 3D panel in Adobe Illustrator.

The new 3D panel in Adobe Illustrator.

The installed desktop version of Adobe Illustrator doesn’t see any huge updates, other than the previously mentioned web version. It gets an improved 3D panel with updated lighting and shading that takes advantage of ray tracing technology and adds direct access to Adobe Substance 3D materials. The iPad version of Illustrator gets a technology preview of the Vectorize image tracing tool.

Even more updates: Lightroom, Premiere Pro and After Effects

Lightroom is the go-to software for serious photographers in both its classic and non-classic flavors. The new version of Lightroom now includes something I first saw in the Picsart app: the ability to submit your work to the vast community so they can work their own editing magic on your photo. This is called the community remix. AI-recommended presets also appear in the program.

Both versions of Lightroom get new masking tools, including luminance, color, and multi-mask capability. Bringing photo apps closer to Photoshop are their new Select Subject and Select Sky tools. Additional presets and auto-recommended presets for things like food, travel, and architecture, plus useful new cropping tool options, round out what’s new in the photo software.

The big news for Adobe’s video editing software of late has been the company’s acquisition of frame.io, the industry-standard online video collaboration platform. And one of the coolest new features in Premiere Pro is Simplify Sequence, which removes unused tracks, gaps, and effects for a much simpler view of the timeline. Format support now extends to 10-bit and HDR media from mirrorless cameras and iPhones, with color management and hardware acceleration.

The new Remix, which smoothly changes song lengths to video lengths, is going into public beta at Max. In my testing of a similar feature in CyberLink PowerDirector, these tools are genre-dependent, so I’m looking forward to seeing how Adobe’s new tool performs.

When it comes to motion graphics, performance improvements in After Effect include multi-frame rendering, speculative preview, composition profiler, and a redesigned render queue. Read about all of this in the Max video app blog post.

The animation program, Adobe Character Animator, now lets you start a Puppet Maker animation without the need for Photoshop or Illustrator, and a transcription-based lip-syncing tool lets your character speak text written with precise mouth movements.

Fight against misinformation

Content Authenticity panel in Adobe Photoshop.

Two years ago, Adobe launched the Content Authenticity initiative, which gave creators a way to verify the authenticity of their work. Recently announced to Max is Content Credentials, a beta tool available in Photoshop that provides a way for the creator to attach secure metadata that verifies the authenticity of the work.

Interested parties can go to the Verify website (now in beta) and upload an image file to verify its authenticity. Adobe Stock, the company’s answer to ShutterStock, now provides content authenticity information for all uploaded content. Adobe is also working with governments and industry leaders to combat deepfakes and has created a technical standard for tracing the origins of media.

The online Adobe Max “Creativity Conference” is free for anyone to enjoy and features celebrity presenters such as Kenan Thompson, Tilda Swinton, and Bryan Cranston. Visit max.adobe.com to register.

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