Adobe announces suite of Touch Apps at Adobe MAX

LOS ANGELES – On day one of the Adobe MAX 2011 user conference  in Los Angeles, Adobe Systems Inc. announced a new suite of apps specifically designed for creating, viewing and sharing projects on touch screen tablets.

Adobe chief technology officer, Kevin Lynch, said the apps present a shift in the way Adobe enables creativity. “It’s producing a transformation across Adobe where we’re enabling the next generation of creativity.”

Tim Hickernell, an analyst at London Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Inc. called the apps “showcases for what Adobe can do” with its own tools. “Adobe AIR was used to create all these applications, across all the platforms?I think that went over well once everybody understood that Adobe didn’t write in Objective C from the bottom up like Apple would want them to. They actually used their own AIR and their own publishing technology that translates that to iOS or to Blackberry.”

Among the new applications, Adobe is releasing a version of Photoshop with brand-new touch-based controls including the ability to see photo layers by rotating the image in 3D. With a stylus, demonstrated on a Samsung Galaxy Tab, there are also pressure sensitive controls for brushes and a lot of tablet-only features.

Adobe Collage is a more streamlined and simplistic image viewing and editing application that draws from the newly announced Adobe Creative Cloud. Images can be marked up for editing and easily shared back and forth to both Photoshop Touch and traditional Photoshop.

Adobe Carousel features your entire photo collection, accessed using the Cloud.

The other truly innovative addition to the touch lineup is Adobe Proto. Proto allows users to creative very quick Web site mockups using a selection of gesture-based elements, like buttons, headers, videos, and Lorem Ipsum text, which can be a useful tool when designing projects for clients. The final proto-type can be exported to Dreamweaver for working up a finalized version when the actual assets are available.

Rounding out the Touch Apps are Debut, Ideas and Kuler. They are each project furthering tools that capitalize on viewing all Adobe created files in the tablet format, the fast sketching out of ideas in the field and a unique palette choosing and layout tool that can keep projects in motion during the early design phases.

Hickernell said that, besides Proto and Photoshop, he’s concerned there might be some overlap in functionality for Adobe’s Touch App line. “I see confusion in figuring out what the hell do i need? From just what I saw this morning, I think I know when to use that one, but I’m not quite sure when to use that one. I think that’s a risk they take as well. Too many things that aren’t well defined.”

But it’s also Adobe’s first venture into tablet applications, and with tentative pricing set at $10, Hickernell thinks this is just as much an experiment for Adobe as it is a new revenue stream.

“Part of it is, they don’t know what to charge yet. They know these things are just a means to another end. Get their foot in the door, do some testing. I mean, look at the whole Photoshop Online thing (a cloud-based Photoshop tool), that was just a big test,” Hickernell said.

For now, the Touch App line will only be available on Android devices beginning in November 2011. An additional subscription to Creative Cloud will be required for some of the sharing elements between these apps and Adobe’s desktop offerings. An announcement about iOS (specifically not touted as a release announcement) is expected in early 2012.