More Adobe CS6 updates revealed along with new Creative Cloud subscription options


posted Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 10:46 AM EDT

Last night, Adobe revealed updates to a couple of its Creative Suite 6 applications -- Photoshop included -- that enabled support for HiDPI, Retina-branded displays as seen in the latest MacBook Pro notebooks from Apple. Today, it turns out that Retina support isn't the only change made in Adobe Photoshop CS6 but it's the only change you're going to receive in the near future unless you're an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber.

Launched alongside Creative Suite 6 last April, Adobe's Creative Cloud is a subscription service that aims to lower the initial barrier to entry for Creative Suite apps, while simultaneously creating an ongoing revenue stream for Adobe. With Creative Cloud, instead of paying full price for individual Creative Suite apps or app bundles, you opt for a monthly or annual subscription that gives you access to one or all the apps in the suite.

Alongside today's announcements, Adobe has revealed that in just seven months, it has already reached almost a third of a million paying Creative Cloud members. Those 326,000 individuals are part of a total userbase of over a million Creative Cloud accounts, with the remainder being free accounts that are entitled to 2GB of storage space, file syncing, and product trials, but who for whatever reason have not yet opted to pay for full Creative Cloud membership.


Healthy growth notwithstanding, Adobe is still intent on emphasising Creative Cloud's advantages, and one way it's doing so is by providing a degree of exclusivity for Creative Cloud customers. As well as the Retina display support that's being made available to all Photoshop CS6 and Illustrator CS6 users, there are also further updates to Creative Suite 6 which, for now, at least, are being offered only to Creative Cloud subscribers.

That places customers who've paid full price for retail bundles in a rather unusual situation. Features available to a new customer immediately upon starting a relatively affordable subscription will not yet be available to those who've potentially already invested thousands of dollars in a single CS6 bundle. The goal is clearly to persuade those customers to simply go with a subscription, and that strategy may well work on the next major release. (For the time being though, it would be illogical to start a subscription for software whose full version you already own.)

But to be fair to Adobe, the company did make clear from day one that it intended to ship new "point-product features," as it terms them, to Creative Cloud customers before they're subsequently made available to retail customers in subsequent Creative Suite updates. And while the new features will be helpful, they're not likely to be critical -- at least, with the exception of the HiDPI update that's already been made available to all customers, regardless of their Creative Cloud status.


So what else is new for photographers in today's updates? The Blur Gallery and Liquify tools in Photoshop CS6 now have Smart Object support, and the Crop tool has been refined. There's also support for conditional actions, enhanced 3D effects with more illumination control and shadow preview, plus the ability to import color swatches and export CSS markup. 

There are also significant changes to Creative Cloud itself, as well. For one, it's now possible to enroll teams in Creative Cloud together, instead of having to license team members' machines individually. Each team member will also receive a more generous 100GB of cloud storage, instead of the 20GB that comes with individual subscriptions. Pricing per user for teams is set at US$70 per month, with a required annual subscription commitment, although customers owning CS3 or later get a discounted price of US$50 per month. There's also a new desktop sync app, Creative Cloud Connection, which aims to make light work of file syncing between team members.

And there's more, besides. Adobe will be detailing some of the changes today in the free Create Now Live event, starting at 10AM Pacific / 1PM Eastern. You can sign up to watch the event on the Adobe website.