5 Things I Hope Adobe Announces at MAX

Adobe MAX is just a few weeks away, and as usual the rumors are flying amongst the creative community on what we’ll see on stage during the keynote. For the past few years, I’d say the announcements have just been ok, besides the one(s) where we all got a free laptop and camera. However, this year, Adobe has a huge opportunity to position itself as the true powerhouse of the creative industry. Especially since we’ve seen some serious competitors start to catch up to them lately. That said, here are 5 things I’d love to see Adobe announce at Adobe MAX.

1. Photoshop for the iPad (or iPad Pro)

There’s no denying that Adobe has really been going after the mobile creative market lately. With apps like Comp, Adobe Capture, and especially Adobe Lightroom. What’s missing from this equation is Photoshop. Yes, we have some semblance of Photoshop on the iPad with Fix and Mix, but let’s be real here… Those are NOT Photoshop on the iPad. Look at what Adobe has done with Lightroom, and what Affinity is doing with Affinity Photo. It’s clear that the capability for a fuller Photoshop experience is possible, and needed, on iOS (and Android, there I said it), so why the hell isn’t Adobe giving it to us? Well, I certainly don’t have the answer to that, but maybe, just maybe, we’ll see it on stage at Adobe MAX in Las Vegas.

2. A Complete Redesign of Image Trace in Illustrator

When Adobe announced Live Trace some years ago, it wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it was leaps and bounds over the cluttered mess we have today known as Image Trace. The team should seriously just sit down and completely start from scratch. This panel is unsuable for many complex projects, like fine lines and blue prints, and even on large objects it creates far too many anchor points and unnecessary paths. This is supposed to be the go-to part of Illustrator for taking raster artwork and converting it to vector? I’d rather spend a week retracing something by hand than to use this feature on any of the conversions I need to do. Which, in a way, is great because I’ll get more billable hours, but I’d much rather spend my time on more fulfilling projects rather than doing tedious work that can, and should, be handled by an application that used to be very good.

3. Multi-Page Documents for Adobe Comp

When Adobe unveiled Comp, nobody was more excited than me. Finally, a page layout application that allowed me to draw on screen and create wireframes the way I wanted to, all from the comfort of my iPad. Then the application seemingly was forgotten, much like its predecessors (RIP Edge Tools). With Affinity Publisher on the horizon, and seemingly Affinity Designer eventually making its way to the iPad as well, Adobe needs to put its foot on the gas here and really flex their creative muscles. They’ve got the talent, they’ve got the prowess (see Lightroom Mobile), so why aren’t they doing it? I have no idea, but I’d love to see them try!

4. That Font Creator Thingy We Saw That One Time

Remember a few years ago when Adobe sneaked a new font creation tool where you could build your own typeface on your iPad? Yeah, well it was officially called Project Faces, and it was the star of the show back in 2015 (see video below). Where the hell is this tool? Seriously. This would be every designer’s wet dream if we could get a hold of this thing. I’m not sure if it was vaporware that was just meant to wow us after pumping us full of beer and listening to Nick Offerman joke around, but this app truly impressed me, and I wish it would ship.

5. Unification of CC Libraries

This may not seem like a big idea here, but CC Libraries are a mess. Every app has its own way of handling them; some handle type, while others only do images; it’s a total mess. Adobe needs to rethink this entire workflow because this is the future of DAM (digital asset management) in the Creative Cloud ecosystem that we’re all heavily investing in. I want every app to share everything. Whether it’s text styles, color themes, images (cloud synced and editable), or text snippets, I want every app to sync it all, and do it seamlessly. This will require time, and a lot of effort, but some acknowledgement that they know it’s a problem and they’re working on it would be nice.

Honorable Mention – Storage Capacity

Personal Creative Cloud plans come with 20GB of storage. Box.com offers 100GB. And Dropbox’s standard plan offers 2TB. All of these, and even Apple who is notoriously stingey with their iCloud storage, offer more than Adobe’s baseline offering, or at least have an option to purchase more. The only way to upgrade your Adobe Creative Cloud storage is to switch to a team account, and that makes absolutely no sense for an individual. Hopefully this is addressed sooner rather than later, and I doubt it’ll get any press at MAX, but adding this to the CC options would be a nice touch, and it would show users Adobe is paying attention.

A Long Shot…

Products like Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and (assumably) Affinity Publisher are all coming up fast behind Adobe. In fact, I’d argue in many ways they’ve caught them w/ some of their features. But features aside, the main selling point of these apps is the fact that you can buy them outright for just $49.99 on both Mac and Windows. I realize Adobe has got all-in on the subscription based model, and I think it’s a great strategy to keep people within the ecosystem. But even with the plans geared towards photographers, Adobe just can’t keep pace with single-priced apps like this. They have to make at least some of their core apps (Lightroom, Photoshop, Illustrator) available at a standalone price, and put them on platforms the Mac App Store or directly through their own website. They can still charge for upgrades every cycle, but I’m telling you there are professionals out there making the switch because of this low barrier of entry, and if Adobe isn’t careful, they’re going to lose a whole generation of new creative professionals. Especially since the Affinity products also have mobile counterparts with significant feature parity with their desktop apps. Like I said, it’s a long shot, but maybe Adobe will here it and take note, because I’m out there living it every day, and I get more questions about these apps every time I log on to social media or go to an industry event than I’ve ever gotten before.

Conclusion

No matter what Adobe announces at MAX, it’s going to be an amazing conference. I’m speaking (I think) four times, and all of my labs are sold out. Just like every year, I’m humbled that I get a chance to be even a small part of the event, and I can’t wait to see some of you there. It’s going to be a big time event in one of the biggest and brightest cities in the world, Las Vegas, and I can’t wait to have some fun and drop knowledge bombs on all my students. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you there!

Justin Seeley is a graphic designer, author, and online content creator. His work can be seen on platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, Lynda.com, CreativeLIVE, and Pluralsight. Justin loves helping both individuals and businesses reach their professional goals through education, creative services, and social content strategy.

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