Top Design Tech Takeaways from Adobe Max Conference

December 9, 2019

“Creativity for all,” was a repeated empowering expression used during the Adobe MAX conference held in early November. This simple sentiment tied to keynotes throughout the event and encompassed Adobe’s overarching theme.

Adobe MAX takeaways 

The conference included a mix of networking, informative seminars, and hands-on workshops. I left Los Angeles with a few takeaways that stuck with me. In this month’s column, I’ll highlight how these takeaways impacted me and how they might impact the design industry.

It’s easier to create anywhere, anytime, with anyone

“Creativity for all” was the motto repeated at the conference, and Adobe helped put this phrase into perspective. A great example of this is its update to Photoshop for iPad, a photo editing software. While Photoshop for iPad is not new, it wasn’t a viable replacement for the desktop version until now. Retouching, image selection, and layering are done just as easily with an iPad as with a desktop computer. According to Adobe, over 90% of the world’s creative professionals use Photoshop. In addition to that staggering statistic, Adobe Photoshop has over 11,000 user reviews on G2. Photoshop’s top three competitors, GIMP, PicMonkey and Pixlr, have less than a quarter of reviews as Photoshop combined. This mobility would allow creators to edit photos on the go without sacrificing essential features, so designers can create anywhere they want.

Read reviews on Photo Editing Software, HERE →

Considering the growing remote and commuter workforce, the need for mobility in the design industry is dire. Adobe’s goal of optimizing its feature-heavy products on a mobile device is a step in the right direction; many competitors in the photo editing space already have mobile applications on the market. Popular applications such as VSCO and PicMonkey have had full-feature mobile apps for a while, but neither offer the robust functionality that comes with Adobe Photoshop

In addition to creating anywhere, Adobe crafted an application where users can create anytime with anyone. This is another way creators can connect and also helps the growing remote workforce. Collaboration, especially among designers, is essential when working with a team on a single project. Miscommunication is one of several grievances remote teams face. A trend that will soon hit the design world includes upgraded collaboration features that alleviate group project or cross-team miscommunication.

Adobe announced features such as live coediting in its prototyping software, Adobe XD. Live coediting allows allows multiple users to edit a prototype simultaneously. This is a standard feature that many competitors, such as Figma, offer. It’s not a groundbreaking change, but it is an indication that coediting will be a staple feature for prototyping software, and perhaps even photo or video editing software in the near future.

Read reviews on Prototyping Software, HERE →

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t replacing creativity, it’s making more room for it

Adobe rolled out Sensei, its artificial intelligence (AI) technology, in 2016. Sensei is a Japanese term for a teacher or leader, highly suitable for a technology that forever improved how designers create in Adobe’s platforms. Sensei was designed to perform basic, manual tasks within Adobe platforms to help designers save time. To the excitement of many, upgrades to Sensei and its platforms were announced at the conference. A notable upgrade is for the automated object selection feature. It’s now intuitive enough to automatically infer which image the user wants to select.

Adobe introduced Sensei changes that impact many of its platforms. The change that received the most audible acclaim was Photoshop’s new retouching abilities, which will save photo editing professionals’ time (and sanity).

Sensei makes design more accessible for people with disabilities. Depending on the project, editing a photo in Photoshop can be difficult for people with different motor skill abilities. Sensei eases the delicate process of fine tuning elements in a photo with its automated object selection feature. Instead of spending minutes, sometimes hours, outlining objects within a layer, Sensei predicts which object needs to be selected and outlines it with a single click. Sensei makes editing more accessible by reducing the amount of fine tuning needed to edit an image.

“Adobe Sensei’s new automated object selection feature is an amazing consideration for people with motor impairments due to disabilities or injuries. Creative professionals themselves must be wary of developing injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, a common motor impairment; the fine motor control necessary for tasks like object selection in photo editing is the prime contributor to such an injury. Automated object selection can serve both as an accessibility feature for those currently dealing with a motor impairment and can also reduce the physical stress on creatives that can cause motor impairments.”

Jazmine Betz
G2 market research analyst

Augmented reality (AR) is no longer intimidating to casual users

The second keynote speech at Adobe MAX introduced its new mobile augmented reality (AR) platform, Adobe Aero, with a fascinating video clip.


In the clip, we see a woman wake up and put on her glasses. They’re no ordinary glasses: These glasses turn her world into a magical AR experience. Adobe Aero is an AR WYSIWYG software that allows users to create AR experiences with no coding knowledge. This alleviates the huge learning curve that is involved with AR SDK platforms, allowing users to create AR experiences, but has a larger learning curve due to its extensive, complex features. 

However, with extensive, complex features comes extensive, complex results. Adobe Aero is intended for people with little or no experience building AR experiences that want the opportunity to quickly build sharable AR experiences.

A casual user who might take advantage of easy AR experience creations would be a professional in the digital marketing industry. AR experiences are fantastic advertising opportunities since they are shareable and intriguing to customers. An eye-catching AR advertisement is likely much more effective than a standard billboard. The mobile aspect of Aero is a new frontier for all types of casual users. With the ability to create AR experiences in the palm of millions of people’s hands, the possibilities are endless.

The design industry will see plenty of upcoming changes

There was lots to take in after attending Adobe MAX. The design industry is reacting to cultural shifts such as a growing remote workforce and increased mobile device usage. Making design tools easier to use makes it more approachable to new designers, and increases the efficiency of seasoned designers. Designers want to spend their time nurturing their creativity and thinking of new ideas, not manually making miniscule changes. While attention to detail will never go out of style, there’s nothing wrong with having additional help from artificial intelligence and effective team collaboration tools.

Be on the lookout for my upcoming design trends overview for 2020!

Read reviews on Photo Editing Software, HERE →


Top Design Tech Takeaways from Adobe Max Conference The Adobe Max Conference was an insightful experience that highlighted the exciting future in store for the design industry.
Tricia Dempsey Tricia is a former research analyst focusing on office and design software. Tricia started at G2 in October 2018 after spending nearly five years in the competitive intelligence industry, which led to extensive market research knowledge and experience. She is currently maintaining the integrity of her space by building out new categories and writing data-driven content. Her coverage areas include office and design. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, attending concerts, and gaming.