Adobe Intros Creative Suite 6 with Cloud-based Push

Adobe unveiled its Creative Suite 6 applications on Monday, showing off what users can expect when the new versions of the company’s design tools ship in the next few weeks. Along with the new versions of Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and more, Adobe also revealed its plans for Creative Cloud, including subscription versions of the Creative Suite apps.

The CS6 upgrade brings better performance and redesigned user interfaces in some applications. Adobe also introduced a new graphics rendering engine with CS6 called Mercury.

Photoshop CS6's new interfacePhotoshop CS6’s new interface

Photoshop Adobe Photoshop, which is currently available as a public beta, includes a redesigned Crop tool, and more Content Aware options, such as the ability to move objects in photographs. The CS6 version gained hardware acceleration for tools such as Liquify and Puppet Warp, and includes searchable layers, video editing support, and new typestyles.

InDesign Adobe InDesign now includes Content Collector tools, linked content support, and Liquid Layouts, which lets users create layouts for multiple page sizes quickly.

Illustrator Adobe Illustrator tossed out the CS5 user interface, gained the ability to trace images, and can now build fill patterns easily.

Dreamweaver Adobe Dreamweaver now offers fluid Grid Layouts, support for CSS-based transitions, PhoneGap support for designing sites for mobile devices.

Premiere Pro Adobe Premiere Pro includes an updated user interface, new multi-cam editing and image stabilization features, an improved playback engine, a new audio mixer, and adjustment layers.

Along with updated applications, Adobe is also rolling out its Creative Cloud subscription service. Creative Cloud includes all of Adobe’s applications for Mac or Windows, along with Adobe Muse and Adobe Edge, which aren’t available with the traditional Creative Suite packages.

While Creative Cloud includes all of Adobe’s apps in its monthly subscription, it doesn’t require online access to use them. Instead, the apps download and install just as they would with a traditional purchase and only need Internet access once a month to verify that your Creative Cloud subscription is still active.

Creative Cloud also includes 20GB of online sync-able storage, support for controlling who files are shared with, Web hosting for up to five sites, unlimited single-use iOS magazine and book app publishing, and users can set view and download permissions on shared files.

Adobe plans to add more apps to the Creative Cloud list in the coming months, according to Scott Morris, Adobe’s Senior Marketing Director for Creative Pros. He told The Mac Observer that Lightroom will be available to Creative Cloud subscribers this summer, along with Edge. A preview version of Edge will be available when CS6 ships.

For users that prefer to purchase their apps instead of subscriptions, Adobe offers four app bundle options: Design Standard, Design and Web Premium, Production Premium, and the Master Collection. Previously, the Design and Web bundles were separate offerings with a nearly identical set of apps.

Creative Suite Standard includes Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Acrobat X Pro, Brige and Media Encoder.

Design and Web Premium includes Photoshop Extended, InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Flash Professional, Fireworks, Acrobat X Pro, Bridge, and Media Encoder.

Production Premium includes Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, Audition, Flash Professional, Encore, Prelude, SpeedGrade, Media Encoder, and Bridge. Prelude manages project assets in video workflows, including logging and transcoding, and SpeedGrade CS6 handles professional-level color grading.

The Master Collection includes all of Adobe’s applications for print, Web, video and audio production without Muse and Edge.

Creative Cloud costs US$49 a month and always includes the latest versions of all of Adobe’s applications. Like the traditional purchase model, the apps can be installed on two computers, although it also supports installing on a Mac and PC instead of a single platform.

Creative Suite CS6 Design Standard is priced at $1,299, or $299 as an upgrade. Design and Web Premium CS6, as well as Production Premium CS6, cost $1,899 each, or $399 as upgrades. The Creative Suite 6 Master Collection is priced at $2,599, or $549 as an upgrade.

Adobe plans to ship the CS6 apps some time in May.