There was a time when professionals did all of their work on a desktop PC running a marquee Adobe app: Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign, or Illustrator. But that time is coming to an end, and Adobe knows it. Mobile, and its massive, diverse app ecosystem, is putting a dent into Adobe’s dominance. Designers who work on mobile devices today are more likely to do so using a couple dozen apps that do one thing well, than one mega-app that tries to do everything.
Scott Belsky, Adobe’s VP of Products, Mobile and Community, calls this the atomization effect. “Everything about mobile is atomized: an app for this, an app for that,” he says. So Adobe is pursuing a new strategy. Instead of trying to supply designers with all the “atoms” they need to be creative, they’re going to be the glue that holds them together. Pick whatever app you want to use, and Adobe will eliminate all the friction bringing it into your workflow.
This new strategy will manifest itself in the form of a new service called CreativeSync. Available to Creative Cloud subscribers, it allows creatives to push their files, workflows, and settings into the cloud, and then access it through any device or app they want. Adobe started rolling it out as part of its desktop apps back in June, but today, CreativeSync is coming to all of Adobe’s mobile apps. And most importantly? It will be available to non-Adobe mobile apps as well.
At first, it’s easy to dismiss CreativeSync as a sort of Dropbox for designers. But that’s underselling it. CreativeSync will store files, but it’s not so much about file storage as it is about file compatibility. It aims to make creative projects cross-compatible with any app or device you dive into. Say you’ve got a project in Photoshop on the desktop, but want to tweak it during lunch using Photoshop Mix on your iPhone, and then need to use Illustrator CC for some vector work. CreativeSync would make that possible, converting your projects on-the-fly to whatever device or app you want to work with.
But CreativeSync coordinates more than just files or projects. It syncs all of what Belsky calls “the ingredients of design.” That means your brushes, your states, your custom color palettes, your text styles, your textures, your fonts, and so on. It makes any asset that you depend on as part of your workflow universally available to you. The service also allows you to access Adobe’s asset libraries anywhere: for example, Adobe’s Typekit library of over 1,100 separate typefaces, or Adobe Stock, which gives Creative Cloud subscribers one-click access to millions of stock photographs.
But back to the most important part: the Creative SDK that third-party developers use to integrate all this functionality into their apps. Conceivably, that means that you could bounce a project back and forth between a third-party app like FiftyThree’s Paper and a CC app like Illustrator as effortlessly as if they were both Adobe programs.
“Mobile apps are so highly specialized, but CreativeSync allows them all to work together.” And while some bugbears will argue that professional design and creativity work will always be done on the desktop, Belsky says Adobe is betting that’s not true. And we agree. Creatives will always be more likely to find inspiration away from their desk than in front of it.
“CreativeSync is the foundation of anything we do at Adobe in the future,” he says. “The notion of thousands of mobile apps working together harmoniously trumps the concept of a creative suite on desktop. The possibilities are unlimited.”
For end users, Adobe CreativeSync will be available on the desktop as part of a Creative Cloud subscription, and is also free if you make use of it exclusively through mobile apps.