A new year, a new Adobe, as the Creative Cloud is welcomed into 2014

Creatives all over the world rely on Adobe, and as the software now covers so many areas — photo, video, web, print, sound — it’s time to see what the company has in store for anyone with a passing interest in a creative field.

Rolling out from today, Adobe’s Creative Cloud is getting a name change, among other things. It’s not a massive name change, mind you, as the programs are getting a year added onto their names to indicate the change in software, but it’s a change, nonetheless.

But the changes are more than just an addition of a year, with new features, fixes, and bits and bobs added to 14 of Adobe’s applications, and a few more added for good measure.

We’re downloading them now, and anyone with access to Adobe’s Creative Cloud will have access today also, but these include changes from 32-bit to 64-bit architecture across more applications including the audio editor Audition and the web package that is Muse, more support for high-resolution displays used on both Apple and Windows computers, Adobe TypeKit integration to make missing fonts automatically appear and install in case files have missing fonts, support for 3D printing, better RAW support, and easy video masking and tracking for Premiere users.

“The 2014 release of Creative Cloud enables us to deliver the magic that customers expect from Adobe,” said Paul Robson, President of Adobe in the Asia Pacific region.

That “magic” includes some touches that creatives are sure to like.

For instance, if you’re learning design and want to make your own publication, you can now create a fixed layout EPUB, making an interactive digital publication with photos, videos, audio, and animation, and export it straight to EPUB, ready for viewing on any device, and even the web, without having to access Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite, which offers similar functionality but more for publishers in regards to tracking, metrics, and subscription services that magazines would normally want.

Photoshop users will find smart objects are a little more useful, with elements able to be linked between files — such as a logo — that will change when that one item is changed. So if your logo changes and you don’t want to update all the files that use it, you merely change the linked smart object and it will change everything as a result.

Photoshop also brings with it some neat enhancements, such as better up-sampling than before, making it possible to bring a low-res photo to a higher resolution if you need it, as well as faster application load times and more 3D printing support, because 3D printing may well be in its infancy, but it’s still a thing people will be using.

And we’re particularly keen to see support for the stylus on Windows 8.1, making the apps more usable on Windows 8 machines like the Surface Pro 2 and the upcoming 12 inch Surface Pro 3.

But tablets like the Microsoft Surface range of machines are just the tip of the iceberg for Adobe, with the company also taking the opportunity to get into hardware with this release.

As such, you’ll find two hardware tools being made available to Australians later in the year that will work with two pieces of Adobe software.

Now these won’t work for Windows users, or even Mac users. Rather, these tools and apps are meant for tablet owners, with iPad owners targeted first, though Adobe did tell GadgetGuy that Android tablets would be developed for later on, as well.

For now, it’s just iPad owners who get to look forward to these apps and devices, and there are a few to talk about.

Starting out, there’s Photoshop Mix, a new condensed version of Adobe Photoshop made for the iPad that offers some of Photoshop’s functionality on a device that normally wouldn’t get to touch much.

Some of the advanced Photoshop functions for the iPad include content aware fill, camera shake reduction, and even the ability to open and save Adobe’s PSD files right there on the iPad, but the application will also be aware of the hardware shortcomings of the iPad, and when it needs more hardware power than it can use, will send the file to Adobe’s online servers — that “cloud” we keep talking about that is referenced in the name of Adobe’s products — and take advantage of the processing power there, where the servers will do the work and send the file back to the user.

That last part takes advantage of Adobe’s “Creative SDK,” which the company says will eventually be made available to more developers, and will allow access to Adobe’s technologies for other applications. It could make its way into more video and photography apps later on, made by other companies, but right now, it’s just Adobe getting in on the fun.

“Adobe’s new mobile apps, hardware and Creative SDK are perfect for creative professionals but, equally importantly, are designed for anyone with a creative spark,” said Scott Belsky, Vice President of Product and the Creative Community at Adobe.

Another application is called Adobe Sketch, and it’s a new free-form drawing app for people who, well, love to draw. And if this is you, the app will be compatible with Adobe’s first piece of hardware, the Adobe Ink pen.

It’s not a real pen, mind you. You can’t write notes on paper with it, but the Adobe Ink does take advantage of a relatively fine-tipped nib and some wireless smarts to let you draw on your iPad using Adobe Sketch, and likely other apps later on.

Built with Adonit, another stylus maker, the Ink uses PixelPoint technology to provide pressure-sensitivity, making dark strokes when pushed more heavily, and light strokes when drawing with that light touch.

Adobe’s other foray into hardware comes in the form of something a little different, creating a ruler, or rather, the Adobe Slide. A small accessory, this little gadget uses wireless technology to let you quickly and easily draw straight lines and shapes on another piece of software, this one called Adobe Line.

Line is a little different from Sketch, too. While Sketch is built to let people draw out ideas, Line is more for architects, engineers, landscape and interior designers, and anyone keen to have a go, which could make it ideal for students in these categories. To assist with these areas, Line lets you set a 3D space and angle, and then draw lines and shapes that work in conjunction with that space, making it possible to draw perfect interiors and exteriors when you need them.

All of these iPad applications are free now, provided you have an iPad, while the hardware to make better use of them will be available at a cost later this year. We’re told you can use some of these functions without the hardware, taking advantage of gestures, but the hardware accessories will be faster and better for some things (pressure sensitivity, for instance, because the iPad can’t tell if you’re drawing with different pressure on a passive rubber-tipped stylus).

Outside of the apps, Adobe’s Cloud updates are also free and rolling out today if you have the Adobe CC subscription. If you don’t, Adobe’s apps are available on monthly and annual plans, with the company also adding a $9.99 per month plan for photographers providing access to Photoshop on the desktop and Lightroom on desktop, mobile, and web.