Home / News & Analysis / Adobe Simplifies Lightroom, Unveils Lots of Apps

Adobe Simplifies Lightroom, Unveils Lots of Apps

Adobe today unveiled a new version of its Lightroom CC photo workflow software with a simpler interface more targeted to consumers and a full 1TB of online photo storage.

At its annual MAX conference in Las Vegas, the company also announced five new mobile apps: a 3D graphic design tool called Dimension; the XD interface design prototyper; Character Animator; Spark; and Lightroom.

The biggest news out of MAX is the splitting of Lightroom into two separate offerings: the synced, simpler-interfaced Lightroom CC that includes 1TB of online storage; and Lightroom Classic, which hews closely the existing interface. Though the CC version has a simplified interface, most of the deep editing tools are still available once you dig in. This is because of the progressive-disclosure design, in which more tools are revealed as you need them.

"Expectations for ease of use and that it's everywhere because it's based on the cloud, are a bigger change than what we saw from film to digital…and the current Lightroom didn't fit those expectations," Adobe's Tom Hogarty, who leads the Lightroom team, told PCMag. The new Lightroom CC is joined by updated iOS and Android apps, along with a new web experience, all of which align with the new main photo workflow app.

Adobe Lightroom CC

The whole shebang will cost users $9.99 per month, just like the old Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan. That plan also included Photoshop, but if you want that now, it's an extra $9.99 per month, with a $14.99 combined offer for existing customers.

Comparing with other online storage options, $120 per year for 1TB of online storage is a bit steep. You can get that free with Flickr ($49.99 ad-free), Apple iCloud gives you 2TB for the same price, Google Drive offers 1TB for $99.99 per year, and Microsoft OneDrive gets you 1TB along with Office apps for $69.99 per year. But the powerful Lightroom software is, of course, a major differentiator.

Adobe Lightroom CC Adjustments

We can't have a new software release in 2017 without mention of artificial intelligence, and indeed, the new Lightroom CC includes Adobe's Sensei AI system to power search and organization. Lightroom Classic also gets improvements in import speed and other operations, as well as new editing capabilities for the Color and Luminance Range Mask.

The new Lightroom mobile apps also get Sensei-powered search, keyword support, hierarchical albums, and support for iOS 11's new HEIC file format. As a reminder, Apple will let iOS users take advantage of raw camera files using Adobe's DNG format.

New Design Apps

Of course, other design applications were added and updated for this year's MAX show. Of particular interest are the XD user interface design app and Dimension, which was formerly called Project Felix. The latter lets you add 3D objects to 2D designs with photorealistic results. Spark, another updated app, lets you create video stories using your own or stock images, background music, and voiceovers. A very fun new app is Character Animator, which reproduces movements and expressions in a 3D animated character as you move in front of a webcam.

Adobe XD

New Stuff for the Big Applications

Adobe's tentpole applications—Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, and InDesign—also benefit from new features announced at MAX. Photoshop gets built-in tutorials to get newcomers started and to refresh pros, a new Curvature Pen tool, variable font support, and brush stroke smoothing. Illustrator gets a new Puppet Warp tool, a contextual properties panel, Artboard enhancements, and variable color and font support. InDesign adds endnotes and paragraph borders, object styles, and typographic enhancements.

Photoshop Learn

Premiere Pro and After Effects can now work with 360-degree content. The video editor can now access motion graphics templates and lets you work on multiple projects simultaneously. Cool, useful data-driven animations and GPU performance improvements come to After Effects.

A new collaboration platform, Team Projects 1.0, improves multiparty workflows, and boasts autosave.

Adobe also announced that its purchasable asset portfolio, Adobe Stock, now contains 100 million assets, including not only photos, but video, motion graphics, and 3D objects. The company's social creative community, Behance, now has 10 million members. And a brand new live-streaming service with the goal of teaching digital creativity, AdobeLive, launches at MAX.

Finally, Adobe Experience Cloud, the company's digital marketing suite, will offer new integrations with the Creative Cloud suite. For more on all the new offering as well as pricing, head to Adobe's MAX minisite.

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Yahoo Mail aims at emerging markets and casual users, launches versions for mobile web and Android Go

The days for Yahoo Messenger are now numbered, but Yahoo and its parent Oath (which also owns TC) are still counting on growth for other communications services, specifically Yahoo Mail. Today, the company announced two new versions of Yahoo Mail, optimised for mobile web and an app for Android Go, a version of Android specifically tailored for cheaper handsets. The launch comes at a time when Yahoo Mail has stagnated in its growth: the company says that it now has 227.8 million monthly active users with some 26 billion emails sent daily, but that user size is only about two million more than it had a year ago. It’s a small number also relatively speaking: as a comparison, Google’s Gmail reported 1.4 billion users this past April. In other words, one very clear aim of enhancing the mobile web and Android One experience is to try to grow use of Yahoo Mail among new categories of users, specifically among people who are using lower-end devices, either in emerging markets or as more casual mobile users in more mature markets. And given that Yahoo Mail is already available in 46 languages and 70 markets, it’s probably overdue that Yahoo has decided to revamp some features specifically for a large part of those markets. For the mobile web service specifically, Yahoo’s hoping to ease people into using Yahoo Mail more regularly. “We’ve heard loud and clear from users that they’re not always ready to make the big leap to downloading an app that takes up any storage space on their phone,” said Joshua Jacobson, senior director of product management for Yahoo Mail. “People with high-capacity phones may want to save that space for photos or videos, while others with entry-level smartphones may just have limited space from the get-go. Further, some folks share devices or borrow a family member’s to access their email. This is all especially true in developing markets.” Yahoo is not the only company to focus on how to cater more to emerging markets: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and many others have developed versions of their platforms and apps tailored for users in these countries (sometimes controversially, when their actions are deemed to be too anticompetitive). Part of the reason for this is because emerging market consumers have been proven to be very enthusiastic users of mobile phones: they use handsets as their primary communications device, often forgoing landlines and computers in the process; but not only do they generally have less money to spend on things like mobile data and devices, but often mobile data represents a higher relative cost overall. On top of this, as growth has levelled off in mature markets, emerging economies are the drivers of all new adoption: usage outside of the US and other mature markets will grow by over 50 percent by 2025, according to the GSMA. Creating apps and sites that consume less data is a no-brainer if you want to grow your usage in these markets, which is what Yahoo is now trying to do. Yahoo last year introduced a new version of its Mail app (along with a paid, ad-free option), which it updated earlier this year with faster load times and other features. Today’s new web version and Android Go app are aiming to create more parity with the standard that it set there. Features include “swipe through your inbox”, a Tinder-style gesture to either to mark a mail a ‘read’ or to delete it (if you swipe left); a new option to personalise your inbox with color themes; an enhanced sidebar to create and use folders; autosuggestion on names (a big one that would have felt very onerous to do without, I’d guess); infinite scroll on the inbox (with no need to click on ‘next’). One issue that I’ve noticed a lot with web apps is that they often don’t seem to work as fast as native apps, and this too seems to be something that Yahoo wants to address: built on React and Redux (similar to the native apps), the responsiveness is much faster now. Yahoo says that Android Go, meanwhile, will take up only about 10 megabytes of space to install, and is optimised to reduce RAM usage if your device is below 50MB.

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