Opening a few new chapters today, Adobe has begun selling its CS5.5 software suites, releasing a revamped Photoshop CS5 that dovetails with a new collection of iOS apps, and beginning a subscription pricing model.
Adobe's Creative Suite 5.5 products actually consist of a variety of suites emphasizing work such as video production, Flash and Web programming, and design. The Master Collection, which incorporates all of the products, costs $2,599, and at the other end of the scale, CS5.5 Design Standard costs $1,299.
Collectively, the features show that Adobe is turning, though with the nimbleness of a battleship. Flash has been a tremendously important product for the company, but no longer is the Web world relying on it to bring innovation to browsers, and Apple still has banished it from iOS. Adobe is growing beyond Flash, though, while still trying to adhere to its ideal of developing content once that can then be used on a variety of devices.
The mid-cycle upgrade lets Adobe add new features to the software sooner than if it waited all the way until CS6. And though many individual programs don't change, there are some significant changes:
For video editing, Premiere Pro CS5.5's Mercury Playback Engine can offload more tasks to Nvidia graphics chips for faster performance. And it's got a new Warp Stabilizer feature to smooth out shaky camera motion. The engine still doesn't support AMD or Intel graphics chips, though, which don't use Nvidia's CUDA programming technology.
Flash Professional is updated for newer versions of Adobe's software foundations--Flash Player 10.2 and its close relative, AIR 2.6. The software can help developers bring their AIR apps to Android mobile devices, too.
The InDesign layout tool gets the ability to publish more sophisticated Epub-format documents that are widely used by book reader apps. For example, it can produce documents with images that resize automatically to fit different screens. Again, it's part of the idea of cross-platform tools where designers or developers create something once and then produce output for multiple devices.
Adobe now includes Acrobat Pro X in the suite for PDF creation and handling. Previously, it was separate.
Adobe also updated perhaps its best-known package, Photoshop, though not enough to bring it beyond its CS5 version number. The update fixes some bugs and security vulnerabilities, but more notably, opens up a communication conduit to a trio of Adobe iPad apps, Eazel, Nav, and Color Lava.
Those apps aren't available yet, but the new interface in Photoshop can be used by other software, too. It can control anything that can be scripted in the software, and that's a lot (though not something like brush strokes).
If you're struggling with the breadth of the products and pricing changes, take a look a the CS5.5 FAQ. Or check the video tours for CS5.5 Web Premium, CS5.5 Design Standard, CS5.5 Design Premium, and CS5.5 Production Premium.