Adobe CS6 Release Date 2012: A Guide To The New Features, Subscription Plans and Creative Cloud

 @redletterdave
on April 23 2012 12:41 PM

It's a big day for Adobe fans. The company has finally unveiled Adobe CS6, the sixth version of the company's creative suite of software tools, but on top of the new features, the company has also introduced the Adobe Creative Cloud, which is the digital hub that allows users to use the applications through a new subscription service. A one-year commitment to the Adobe Creative Cloud is $49 a month, but users can also pay $79 per month for month-to-month access to Adobe CS6.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's break down all of the features inside Adobe CS6:

The Products

Adobe CS6 comes with 17 different individual tools, including Photoshop, Photoshop Extended, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, Flash, Flash Builder, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition, SpeedGrade, Prelude, Encore, Bridge, and Media Encoder. Muse and Edge, both new to the Creative Suite, are also downloadable apps for up to two machines, as the programs allow users to create deep mobile applications.

Photoshop CS6: Adobe endowed Photoshop with a new Content-Aware Patch, a mercury graphics engine that lets users get near-instant results with textural photo tools, redesigned tools for vector layers and formatting, a new blur gallery to create tilt-shift effects, a new crop tool, video creation, auto-recovery, and more. Not included in $49.99/month Creative Cloud, Photoshop is available for individual purchase for $699, or as part of the Standard CS6 package for $1,299. Those who already own Photoshop can upgrade to the new version for $199.

Photoshop Extended CS6: For $200 more, Photoshop Extended provides a 3D performance boost that renders shadows and reflections through the Mercury Graphics Engine, as well as tools to create 3D art, and all of the other features included in CS6's Photoshop. Photoshop Extended is available for $999, but also comes with the the Premium ($1,899) and Master Collections ($2,599), and on Adobe's Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). Those who already own Photoshop can upgrade for $399.

Illustrator CS6: The new version of Illustrator comes with an enhanced Mercury Performance System with native 64-bit support for large files, a great pattern creation tool, a new tracing engine to edit images for clean lines, gradients on strokes, Gaussian Blur effects like shadows and glows, and more. Illustrator is available for $599, but also comes with the the Standard ($1,299), Premium ($1,899) or Master Collections $2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). Those who already own Illustrator can upgrade for $249.

InDesign CS6: For those obsessed with design and typography, InDesign CS6 will soon become your new best friend. The software allows users to build multiple versions of a layout for different devices and print specifications, create PDF forms within the design, compare layouts side by side, get B&W and greyscale previews, get consistent text frame fitting, and more. InDesign is available for $699, but also comes with the Standard ($1,299), Premium ($1,899) or Master Collections ($2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). Those who already own InDesign can upgrade for $125. 

Muse CS6: Adobe's tool for website designers that don't want to use code, the latest version of Muse offers comprehensive sitemaps for easy arrangement, master pages with editable headers, footers logos and navigation, Smart Guides, hundreds of fonts, rich interactive content like slideshows, lightboxes and embedded HTML, and more. Muse is available for $15, and also comes on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month).

Acrobat X Pro CS6: Need PDFs? Acrobat X Pro has everything you need to read, search, convert, and share PDF files. Acrobat X Pro is available for $449, but also comes with the Standard ($1,299), Premium ($1,899) or Master Collections ($2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). Those who already own Acrobat X Pro can upgrade for $199. 

Flash Professional CS6: For those that want to create animation and multimedia content, Flash Professional in CS6 offers improved 3D targeting, mobile simulation for interactions like screen orientation and touch gestures, advanced support for HTML5, and more. Flash Professional is available for $699, but also comes with the Premium ($1,899) or Master Collections ($2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). Those who already own Flash Professional can upgrade for $99. 

Flash Builder CS6: A premium version of Flash Professional, Flash Builder offers an Eclipse-based tool for making smartphone and tablet-ready apps and designs, including code editing, code generation, code templates, previewing and debugging mobile applications, and much more. Flash Builder is available for $699, but also comes with the Master Collection ($2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). Those who already own Flash Builder can upgrade for $49. 

Dreamweaver CS6: Adobe's intuitive design platform for building websites and mobile apps, Dreamweaver in CS6 comes with a fluid grid layout system to work more efficiently, improved FTP performance, incredible effects for CSS3 transitions, an advanced live view before publishing, and more. Dreamweaver is available for $399, but also comes with the Premium ($1,899) or Master Collections ($2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). Those who already own Dreamweaver can upgrade for $125. 

Edge Preview CS6: Edge Preview is not sold individually, but the HTML-native tool allows you to make interactive content for HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript for browsers, tablets and smartphones. Edge Preview comes with the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription plan.

Fireworks CS6: To create beautiful screen graphics, images and content, Fireworks in CS6 comes with improved CSS support, quicker access to colors, gradients and patterns, API access, and more. Fireworks is available for $299, but also comes with the Premium ($1,899) or Master Collections ($2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). Those who already own Fireworks can upgrade for $149.  

Premiere Pro CS6: Adobe's professional video-editing tool gets a kick in CS6, adding features like its new intuitive user interface (looks like a mix between old Final Cut and Garageband), dynamic timeline trimming, an enhanced playback engine, expanded multicam editing, color correction, adjustment layers, and much more. Premiere Pro is available for $799, but also comes with the Premium ($1,899) or Master Collections ($2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). Those who already own Premiere Pro can upgrade for $149.

After Effects CS6: For killer cinematic and motion graphics effects, look no further than After Effects. In CS6, the program adds features like a global performance cache to see individual changes made over time, a 3D camera tracker for control over depth of field, reflections and shadows, ray-traced shapes and text, mask feathering, rolling shutter repair, and much more. After Effects is available for $999, but also comes with the Premium ($1,899) or Master Collections ($2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). Those who already own After Effects can upgrade for $175. 

Audition CS6: There aren't many audio tools as intuitive as Adobe Audition, and the CS6 edition offers some great new features, including more intuitive editing, real-time clip stretching, speech and video playback alignment, pitch correction, control surface support, and much more. Audition is available for $999, but also comes with the Premium ($1,899) or Master Collections ($2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). Those who already own Audition can upgrade for $75.

SpeedGrade CS6: Adobe's tool for color grading allows users to master the colors within their images and photos. The software provides precision grading for any file type, from RAW to HDR, and can compensate for gamma irregularities and color shifts, and much more. SpeedGrade is available for $999, but also comes with the Premium ($1,899) or Master Collections ($2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). You can buy a one-year plan for SpeedGrade through Adobe for $20.

Prelude CS6: For post-production managers, Prelude is a great way to stay organized throughout the production schedule. Prelude in CS6 can transcode most formats it ingests, create searchable markets with metadata to stay organized and find footage faster, and more. Prelude can ingest almost any file and Prelude comes with the Premium ($1,899) or Master Collections ($2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). Those who already own Prelude can upgrade for $375.

Encore CS6: Even though most people don't make DVDs anymore, Adobe doesn't forget about those fans of the hard disc. Encore in CS6 is a 64-bit authoring tool that can build and burn DVDs, Blu-ray discs, Web DVDs, all taken directly from Premiere Pro. Encore comes with the Premium ($1,899) or Master Collections ($2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). Those who already own Encore can upgrade for $149.

Bridge CS6: To keep your photos and designs organized, Adobe Bridge offers a useful way to browse and search all of your large 64-bit systems. Bridge comes with the Standard ($1,299), Premium ($1,899) or Master Collections ($2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month).

Media Encoder CS6: Need to transform your inputs to outputs? If you built any type of media file through Premiere Pro or After Effects, Adobe's Media Encoder can encode virtually any video file and transmit it to any video or device format you choose. Media Encoder comes with the Standard ($1,299), Premium ($1,899) or Master Collections ($2,599), and on the Creative Cloud ($49.99/month). Those who own Premiere Pro can upgrade for $149.

Adobe's Creative Cloud

The Creative Cloud is a new addition for Adobe, which traditionally released new versions of its software through shrink-wrapped boxes. Not only does the Creative Cloud give customers a new way to purchase Adobe's products, but it also offers immediate access to new software updates, training, support, and new technologies. Adobe believes the Creative Cloud is the future of software distribution, and to prove it, the company is offering the entire CS6 Master Collection as part of the subscription plan.

The subscription plan for the Creative Cloud allows users to pay $49.99 per month if they sign up for one year with the Creative Cloud. For those who have short-term projects or only temporarily want to try out CS6, Adobe allows other users to pay $79.99 a month on a month-by-month basis. Since it's all controlled over the cloud, Adobe can pull your software access away at any time.

Currently, a few Adobe apps already use Apple's cloud, including Adobe Ideas and Adobe Photoshop Touch. Adobe, however, is reportedly looking to get all of its Photoshop Touch apps into the App Stores, and is awaiting the green light for Adobe Kuler, Proto and College to hit iOS devices; all three of the latter apps are currently available for Android devices.

System Requirements

The Adobe Creative Suite will require various system requirements depending on which product you're using, but generally users will need an Intel system with anywhere from 1 GB to 8 GB of RAM to support all of the heavy lifting of graphics and tools.

Apple fans will need to be running Mac OS 10.6 or 10.7 to run anything on Adobe CS6; those developers with Mac 10.8 Mountain Lion be warned: Your computer may not run CS6 quite yet, so it's safe to wait until this summer to install CS6 if you already have a developer's license for Mountain Lion.

Windows users will need their desktop or laptop computers to include an Intel Pentium 4 or an AMD Athlon 64 processor to work. They will also need to be running Windows XP with Service Pack 3, or Windows 7 with Service Pack 1.

Release Date

Even though Adobe officially unveiled the CS6 suite of products today, the items and the Standard, Premium and Master Collections of CS6 are only available for pre-order. Adobe currently has no official date, but the company offers to notify patrons when the software packages become available.

TechCrunch reports that the Adobe products are scheduled to be available within 30 days, so if that's the case, Adobe fans will be playing with CS6 by mid-May 2012.

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