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Photoshop maker Adobe today announced some cool new capabilities and enhancements for XD—which is its vector-based tool for designing and prototyping user experience for web and mobile apps—that the firm says will streamline designers’ everyday workflows.
The updates include shareable cloud documents that work across devices, the ability to flip an object’s direction search in the layers panel and more. Cloud documents are now the default way of working in XD so if you happen to go offline, just keep working on your document as any changes will get automatically synced back to the cloud when reconnected.
Shareable cloud documents: An alternative to saving documents locally, users can now auto-save documents to Creative Cloud to keep them accessible across devices and easily shareable with other users without leaving XD. Cloud documents are available on both Mac or Windows. Just sign-in using your Creative Cloud account to see all your documents in XD on desktop and mobile.
Auto-save: The latest version of your document is auto-saved to the cloud so there’s no need to manually save or worry about data loss from an OS or application crash.
Everything in one place: You’ll find your cloud documents and those shared with you right within the XD welcome screen.
Object flip: This new feature lets you toggle an object’s direction with all basic design elements like gradients, text, groups, images and vectors.
Search in layers panel: With this feature, you can easily search by layer names or filter by text, shapes and images categories.
Improvements to symbols: You can now see an on-canvas preview when there’s a linked symbol change, letting you see it in context before accepting the change.
Adobe outlined other changes too:
In addition to opening Photoshop and Illustrator documents in XD, you can now also copy and paste from Illustrator to XD with the same fidelity, as well as import Photoshop and Illustrator documents into an existing XD document.
There are also improvements to SVG export, providing more control over what’s included in the exported SVG. If you use a device with a touchscreen or you use a Wacom tablet, you’ll find improved support for manipulating objects on the canvas using touch.
They’re currently working on a number of major additions to XD that will only be available when using cloud documents, including the following perks:
Faster sharing: Rather than have to generate and upload prototypes and design specs to cloud storage, cloud documents will enable near-instant creation of designs and prototypes for review or development.
Live collaboration: Instead of having one person in a document at a time, and needing to agree who is making changes when, the introduction of live collaboration capabilities will enable you to work alongside other designers in your cloud document.
Versioning: No longer will you need to manually save out versions of documents. With cloud documents, you’ll get easy ways to make a milestone version that you can quickly access right within XD.
Design systems: With cloud documents and Creative Cloud Libraries, you’ll have everything you need to create and manage robust design systems for use with your team or organization.
For more information on these enhancements, read Adobe’s blog post.
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Adobe is announcing updates to several Creative Cloud desktop and mobile applications this morning. The changes are designed to speed up the editing process and to make working between applications across various platforms more seamless.
Adobe XD has stolen the Creative Cloud spotlight this year with frequent updates and a design fund initially targeted at the app’s audience. June’s release adds features initially previewed to us in May.
The first addition is called fixed elements, which Adobe says was one of their most requested features. Users will be able to lock design objects to one position on an artboard and layer them above or below other objects to create more visually realistic mockups. Also new are overlays, content that is stacked on top of other artboards.
Alongside these headline features, private email sharing, improved cropping, math calculations in property fields, and improved support for Photoshop and Sketch image fills have been added.
While XD’s updates may seem to outpace other Creative Cloud applications, the crowded user experience design space demands quick iteration. Just last week, Apple began offering their own sessions in retail stores about prototyping apps, a move that could spark a whole new wave of interest in UX design. You can read more about today’s XD update here.
Second is Lightroom CC, which is gaining preset and profile synchronization. All versions of Lightroom – Mac, iOS, Android, Windows, ChromeOS, and the web – will have access to any presets created or purchased on any device, including those from third parties.
Creation of editing presets will also be available on iOS, Android, and ChromeOS for the first time. Profiles and presets will be uploaded and stored in Creative Cloud and sync in the same manner as Lightroom photos. You can read more about profiles and creating them here.
Exclusive to the desktop version, Lightroom is gaining a few extra features alongside today’s syncing update. Settings applied to an image can now be batch copy & pasted to multiple images at once. For users that use Lightroom’s Shared Album feature, fine-grain options are now offered to better control what information is available to viewers.
As reception to last year’s Creative Cloud-overhaul of Lightroom has been mixed, Adobe continues to update Lightroom Classic for users who prefer the older but more full-featured workflow. Profile and preset management, faster searching in folders, folder color labels, and auto-stack HDR/panorama are all being added.
In addition to preset creation, Lightroom Mobile has gained a new healing brush tool. Adobe says it features the same functionality as the brush found in Camera Raw and Lightroom on the desktop. Exclusive to iOS, a Remove Chromatic Aberration checkbox will help resolve the color fringing that plagues many photos taken at long focal lengths.
You can read more about all of the changes coming to Lightroom CC on Adobe’s website.
Last, Adobe is bringing its collage creation tool Adobe Spark Post to Android. The app has been available in various forms on iOS since December 2024. The new app is available to download on the Google Play Store.
Adobe offers a variety of Creative Cloud subscription options beginning at $9.99/mo. for a photography plan offering access to Lightroom CC. Adobe XD now offers a free plan.
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This week’s edition of our Apps of the Week roundup features an auto-translating chat app, AI software that can help you decide where to eat and an educational app that uses AR to help demonstrate complex topics. And as always, we’ve selected two great new games for you to check out.EarthChat
EarthChat is an instant messaging and social media app that offers real-time translation in over 100 languages. The neat thing is, the translations occur automatically—no need for you to copy, paste or tap. Regardless of what language the other person is talking in, all you will ever see is English (or whatever language you set it to). Now I’m not sure how good the app’s translations are compared to, say a Google Translate, but at the very least it should allow you to communicate in real time with folks you wouldn’t normally understand at all.
Download for freeVeni
Veni eliminates the “where to eat” conundrum among you and your friends. Using artificial intelligence, the app suggests 3 restaurants based on everyone’s preferences. Then you can make your pick out of the 3 with a simple tap. You can browse restaurants, sorted by price and location, view photos and even chat with your friends, all within the app. I know it seems silly to add another app to your Home screen for something as niche as dining out with friends, but I think the weekend is the perfect time to check it out.
Download for freeHologo
This is one of the more interesting uses of AR I’ve seen to date. Hologo meshes education with immersive experiences to help you better learn and understand complex concepts. Imagine exploring a volcano in mixed and augmented reality, or an animal cell, or human systems like digestive and respiratory. The app appears to be geared towards teachers and students, but honestly I think anyone looking to learn new things will find it useful. You do have to register (for some reason) to use the app, but it doesn’t look too complicated.
Download for freeZero/Sum
On the eve of discovering a mathematical cure for cancer, your mentor, Professor Claire Liddy, is murdered. Fortunately, before she died, the Professor was able to erase a lot of her formula, saving the cure from falling into the wrong hands. But now it’s up to you to fill back in the missing parts of the equation. As you can probably guess, there’s a comedic angle here that might not suit everyone. But with an 80s action movie-inspired storyline, a green screen with real actors, and a variety of puzzle types and mechanics, this is easily one of the most unique puzzlers I’ve ever come across.
Download for $1.99Rotten Escape
If you prefer something that requires a little less time/though, check out Rotten Escape. You must help Little Tom and his friends—tomatoes that have been deemed too rotten to stay in the supermarket—escape the garbage dump. Naturally, the only way to do that is travel up, so you find yourself in an endless arcade game in which you must tap 3 areas of your screen to help Tom and his friends navigate various levels. There are over 20 characters to play with, one-handed gameplay and Game Center achievements.
Download for freeOther app news to check out
We made it to another weekend everyone, congrats! This means it’s time for another Apps of the Week roundup, and we have some great picks for you this week. There’s an inventive status updater, a new take on mindfulness, and an expense app designed specifically for home renovation projects. And as always, we’ve selected a fun new game for you to check out.StatusCal
Here’s an interesting and inventive app. It’s called StatusCal, and its goal is to keep you from being disrupted by co-workers or housemates, while you’re busy. It allows you to set a Do Not Disturb message that can be displayed on an iPad or other device for others to see. It works like this: you set your availability using your iPhone or Apple Watch to something like, “on a conference call,” and that message gets displayed to an iPad that is sitting on your desk, facing your co-workers, or hanging outside your home office. It’s not going to be for everyone, obviously, but it could certainly come in handy for some.
Download for free(Not Boring) Vibes
Tell me this doesn’t sound at least kind of awesome. (Not Boring) Vibes is an app, which is “based on science and inspired by video games,” that creates personalized music designed to improve your focus, intensity, and concentrate. The app knows your wake and sleep times, and generates background music based on your activity throughout the day to help you wake up, focus at work, relax, and sleep deeper. It’s easy to use, too — one tap to open and automatically play exactly what music you need for the moment. It also supports immersive spatial audio, widgets, has a timer, and more. Even if you’ve poo-poo’ed mindfulness apps in the past, this one seems worth checking out.
Download for freeGubadoo
Gubadoo. That’s fun to say. Gubadoo. Anyway, this app is super niche, but could really come in handy for folks renovating their homes or taking on a significant construction project. It’s a custom finance tracker, with tailored categories like build materials, labor, furniture, and more. You can record all of your expenses, track your spending, receive reports, and analyze your financial situation in real-time. Save time and eliminate overpaying, with Gubadoo. And just think, at the end of a major renovation, you can pretend you were on HGTV’s Love or it or List it show, “We have one more listing to show you, and that’s your own.”
Download for freeTeeny Tiny Town
Welcome to Teeny Tiny Town, where you can indulge your inner city planner and craft your very own bustling city. Merge, build, and watch your town flourish before your eyes. What we have here is a captivating puzzle game, with a visual design reminiscent of Monument Valley, in which you must combine three or more items on the board to construct new structures. Start with humble trees and transform them into majestic houses, and then merge those houses to create even grander residences. There’s relaxing music and ambient sounds, delightful details, and diverse challenges. What a perfect weekend game.
Download for free
Google Fiber broadband service in Kansas City will cost US$70 per month for 1Gbps Internet access and $120 per month for that service plus TV, the company said.
Even residents who don’t want to pay for the fast service will benefit from the project: For a one-time $300 construction fee, which can be paid in installments, they will be able to get free broadband at speeds comparable to DSL (digital subscriber line) service — 5Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream. But neighborhoods where not enough residents pre-register for Google Fiber won’t get it.
Google disclosed the details of Google Fiber on Thursday on its blog and on an information page about the project. The rollout will cover qualifying areas of Kansas City, Missouri, and neighboring Kansas City, Kansas, which won out over more than 1000 cities that applied for the service in 2010.Testing Fiber Networks
Google announced in February 2010 that it planned to build fiber networks in “a small number of trial locations” in the U.S., in which it would offer service at competitive prices to between 50,000 and 500,000 people. The company described its project as a test bed to explore new applications, fiber deployment techniques and operation of a network that’s open to other service providers. Google hasn’t named other fiber cities yet but operates one network in a small community near Stanford University.
The company has divided the cities into “fiberhoods” and asked residents to pre-register for service and tell their neighbors to join them. Each “fiberhood” will have a goal of pre-registrations to meet by September 9, based on the population density of the area. The fiberhoods that get the most pre-registrations will get service first, and should see it soon after the registration period. Google said. Areas where not enough residents pre-register won’t qualify for the rollout.
Registration requires giving basic information such as name and address and paying a $10 deposit. The $300 construction fee for equipping a home for service will be waived for those who sign up for the paid services.
Additional perks for those who get TV service will be a free “Storage Box” with 2T bytes of storage for recorded shows, and a free Nexus 7 tablet to use as a remote.
The addition of TV in Kansas City makes Google Fiber more comparable to the services being offered by cable operators and carriers, though at higher speeds and with some Google twists. By way of comparison, Verizon Communications offers 300Mbps downstream on the fastest tier of its FiOS fiber-to-the-home service, and Comcast offers up to 105Mbps. TV is available in addition to each of those plans.
Google’s fiber-based Internet service can run at 1Gbps both upstream and downstream and has no data caps. Customers have to sign up for a one-year contract for Internet alone and a two-year contract for Internet plus TV. The 5Mbps service also has no caps, and users can pay $25 per month for 12 months to cover the cost of construction. That service is guaranteed free for at least seven years.
Google’s HD-equipped set-top box, which it calls the TV Box, provides access to TV, on-demand video and Internet content. It also includes a Wi-Fi access point. Its Network Box also has Wi-Fi, plus four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a built-in firewall. The Storage Box can be used for personal multimedia content as well as recorded shows.Working out the Service
But despite the eye-popping speed and added features, Google Fiber isn’t perfect, said Mike Jude, an analyst at Stratecast, a division of Frost & Sullivan. Many consumers want mobile service and landline voice bundled with broadband and TV, he said.
“It can’t be just as simple as data access and subscription TV,” Jude said. Unless Google can somehow build those pieces through Android and VoIP, they may face competitive pressure.
Kansas City, Missouri, has a population of about 460,000, while its twin city across the border is home to about 145,000 people. By asking neighborhoods to “rally” for fiber access, Google is continuing its practice of having communities qualify for fiber service. On its information site, the company tells residents that winning fiber service for their neighborhood includes making free gigabit-speed service available to public buildings such as schools, libraries and hospitals.
Asking for pre-registrations is a smart strategy that reduces Google’s risk, and one that regulated service providers probably couldn’t use, Jude said.
Though much has changed since Google’s 2010 announcement, including its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a maker of both mobile devices and set-top boxes, analysts believe the company’s vision remains the same. Google still doesn’t want to compete against carriers and cable operators, said analyst Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates.
“I think this is really more about building a reasonable-size sandbox that people can play in,” he said. That play could include Google trying out new devices and services over its own network and watching the consumer response and network impact. “This is really kind of a marketer’s and engineer’s dream,” Gold said. If service providers see what can be done on a fast network, they may build their own, giving Google a better foundation for its over-the-top services, he said.
Jude thinks Google wants to demonstrate to regulators that a gigabit-speed fiber network is feasible. If they see Google build one at a reasonable price, they may call on the established players to do the same, he said.
I know most of you are probably still reeling from the Star Wars VII launch this weekend (I am literally writing this article while sitting in line, waiting to see it), but the world still continues and the App Store is still open. If you aren’t spending every waking moment watching the sequel to the most popular sci-fi movie in the world (or if you are sitting in line, wondering if there is anything new to play with while you wait), we’ve got a list of apps and games that you should check out.Frank the Dillo
This app is described as miniature golf/platformer with an Arabian Nights theme. The goal is to get the adorable armadillo into his hole in as few moves as possible. It’s not quite as easy as the average put-put golf game. Frank has to navigate such obstacles as ramps, jumps, and traps. Plus, you’ll want to collect all those shiny gems on your way home. To get Frank rolling, drag your finger behind the ball and slide to aim. Then, let go to shoot. The trick is getting him to move without over shooting. The controls feature a percentage meter to help you out. This game is available for $0.99.
You may have noticed by now that I’m a big fan of the GIF, especially if there are cats involved. This app has all the typical features of a GIF maker, but adds the element of animation overlays to make things even more interesting. You can use photos, video clips, and other forms of media to combine one GIF. Then, choose from the included animation masks, effects, and stickers to turn it into a wild time. You can even search for content and import from Giphy. If you don’t already have content on your device, you can always create it from scratch using the in-app camera to record video or grab pics using burst mode. This app is available for free.
Have you ever had trouble finding the words to express yourself? Imagine if you were in an accident that affected your ability to speak. That is exactly what has happened in this game. You wake up in a hospital after an accident, unable to properly speak to anyone, even though you can understand them. Every time someone asks you a question a series of jumbled words appear on the screen and you have to figure out which of them to use to respond. Only when you pick the correct word or series of words will you be able to continue. This game is available for $2.99.Swingdo
I often find myself buried in tasks and I can’t figure out what to tackle first, especially around the holidays. This app uses machine learning to organize your to-do list based on what time it is now, and what you have coming up. It also tracks your email and lets you know if you have forgotten to respond to an important message. Instead of displaying your tasks as a long, overwhelming list, your to-dos are organized into comfortable looking time cards around your calendar, for a less stressful visual experience. It works with Gmail, iCloud, Yahoo, Outlook, and Twitter. This app is available for free.Star Skater More apps you should check out These apps have been updated
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