Adobe has released three new free creative iPad apps and two hardware accessories to accompany them – but the Ink and Slide hardware won't be available in the UK until later this year.
Adobe's new Ink and Slide tools are Creative Cloud-connected hardware, designed to be used in conjunction with dedicated iPad apps Adobe Line and Adobe Sketch. Photoshop Mix is separate app that offers a cut-down version of Photoshop that does some image processing in the cloud, which offers some intriguing possibilities for what Adobe could do with this in the future.
The aluminium tools represent the first hardware devices from the software giant, created in partnership with Adonit, the first company to develop a thin tip stylus for the iPad. We got a hands-on with prototypes of both Ink and Slide at the Adobe Max 2013 conference and later we interviewed Adobe's VP of experience design Michael Gough about their design (video above). Some refinement has obviously been made since then.
Adobe Ink, formerly 'Project Mighty' (as in old adage 'the pen is mightier'...) is triangular, 'so it doesn't roll away', according to Adobe creative evangelist, Rufus Deuchler, demonstrating the devices at a London press preview. “It works very like a normal pencil,” he added. “But it has Pixelpoint technology, so it's not like one of those devices with a big rubbery tip at the end that are really hard to draw with.”
There's one other key difference between this and a dumb stylus – the connected device can copy and paste images via Creative Cloud, sending sketches to Photoshop or Illustrator for further refinement. Ink can also set a custom LED for easy identification, in case you and your teammates down tools at the same time.
Adobe Slide, formerly 'Napoleon' ('a short ruler') can be used to draw straight lines, as you might expect, but buttons on the surface also allow you to apply templates and objects you can trace around, as well as draw circles and create French Curves: 'the easiest way to draw rounded shapes and precise sketches on the iPad', according to Rufus.
Two new mobile apps were also announced today, Adobe Line and Adobe Sketch (below), which let users work with Ink and Slide. Line (above) has a 'paper feel' according to Rufus, and enables users to draw straight lines and perfect shapes as well as use templates to create very precise drawings on the iPad. Tools include pencils and pens based on real life versions (2H, HB, brushes and markers) as well as colours (accessed by touching a Kuler icon). Size and opacity of the pencil can be adjusted, as you might expect. Template stamps and perspective grids can also be applied and used and circles and other shapes can be created and adjusted by tapping on the screen.
When the apps are used in conjunction with Ink, Deuchler said the experience was like using a real pen on paper. Finger gestures allow Undo and access to History and both apps can store and access saved drawings (via the app itself or the Ink pen) and Kuler colour themes They also allow direct access to the Behance community, with feedback and comments available from other users appearing within the app itself.
Shipping in the US today, Ink and Slide will only be available as a set, with pricing pegged at $200 (around £120) for the box. Pricing and availability for the UK (and elsewhere) will be rolled out later in the year. Fear not, non-US Creative Cloud subscribers, the Line and Sketch apps can be used without the devices, though that may make them of limited use. Lucky for us then that Adonit's Pixelpoint technology already exists in its Jot pens, available online and compatible with both Line and Sketch.
Adobe's aim is apparently to keep creatives entirely within a digital world. It makes sense then that it wants partners to help in this aim. The Adobe SDK is also being made available today, allowing third-party developers to tie their tools into the Creative Cloud and access some of the unique technologies in Photoshop and other applications. Does this mean we'll see Wacom, for example, bringing out a Creative Cloud-connected Cintiq? It's probably more likely than a rival version of Ink and Slide. More details are to be announced at Adobe Max this coming October, so stay tuned.