Adobe Systems on Monday let loose its plan to reinvent its image-editing software: the convergence of desktop, Webware, and mobile photo applications.
In late September, Adobe will update both Adobe's Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements with version 7, rebrand Photoshop Express as Photoshop.com, and debut a mobile Photoshop (of sorts) for Windows Mobile.
Syncing with the new Photoshop.com
Whereas Photoshop Express (review) began life as an experimental, Web-based offshoot of the Photoshop brand, Adobe's new strategy to automatically sync photos from desktop to Web to phone and back again now gives Photoshop Express a starring role on the Photoshop playbill, albeit using a different alias. Don't let that fool you--although the product will now be Photoshop.com, it will retain its editing features and the ability to post photos to Facebook, Flickr, Photobucket, and Picasa. The bigger difference is that the new Photoshop.com will sync with the two Photoshop Elements applications and the new mobile software.
To sweeten the deal for existing users, and perhaps to lure new ones, Adobe is bumping up the free, basic membership plan from 2GB to 5GB of storage. However, Adobe is no doubt hoping that users will get hooked on online storage and go with the Plus membership, which will dish out templates and tips in addition to serving up 20GB in locker space for photos and videos. The 'Plus' plan is sold on its own for $50 per year or bundled with the desktop software for $140.
New Photoshop Elements
Phase two of Adobe's photo-syncing project is to update the desktop-bound Elements applications to make them compatible with the new Photoshop.com. They'll get a few additional features and enhancements along the way. For instance, Photoshop Elements 7--which is expected to sell for about $100 or $80 if you're upgrading--will automatically back up photos online, deliver new templates, and will contain new image-enhancement tools. CNET Senior Editor Lori Grunin has an in-depth preview and her own take on Adobe's efforts to stay relevant.
Premiere Elements 7 will see the bonus features in Elements 7 and raise them with new movie-making tools, support for AVCHD, and automatic video upload to YouTube. Grunin weighs in on that update, too.
Photoshop on the phone
Adobe's mobile presence has so far been restricted to utilities--a mobile PDF-reader and Flash Lite for playing Flash videos on the mobile stage. To that end, Photoshop.com Mobile beta is Adobe's first attempt at creating a mobile version of one of its consumer offerings, although the app will primarily remain a vehicle for simple uploading and downloading to and from the revamped Photoshop.com.
Based on the Flash Lite Player, Photoshop.com Mobile beta will let you upload all the photos on your mobile phone to Photoshop.com, which will then automatically sync to either Element 7 app, if you have one. The preview build we saw is divided into three rudimentary actions. The first is to upload select phone photos to Photoshop.com for sharing with friends or for using as a backup. The second has you viewing thumbnails of all the photos in your online gallery, and the third lets you peruse any albums you've created on Photoshop.com and Elements 7. There will be no photo-tagging, titling, or captioning in the initial release, and we admit that's a letdown, especially when competing photo apps can already do this on multiple mobile operating systems.
That's a competition to which Adobe can't help but be attentive. Traditionally a publisher of desktop software, Adobe has been slow to adapt for the two fastest-growing software platforms--mobile and the Web. While we expect a bare bones Photoshop.com Mobile beta, the app's ability to connect with the Photoshop.com hub gives Adobe more relevance for existing users. We're skeptical that folks using Picasa, Photobucket, and Flickr will abandon them for Photoshop.com, but the ability to quickly post from the phone to those sites, from the Web to the desktop, and from the phone to the desktop via Adobe's servers, may keep users of the Elements desktop apps from bailing in favor of a competitor.
Like Adobe's other releases, Photoshop.com Mobile beta will be available in late September, first for Samsung Blackjack I and II, Moto Q 9h and 9m, and Palm Treo 700 w/wx and 750, with support for other Windows Mobile phones expected to follow.