Captive Cloud

I have written a few times about how much I loathe all the things surrounding Adobe’s products these days. Their actually products are very useful for doing work — otherwise no one would put up with the horrible subscription schemes, wonky web services, and the World’s Worst Software Update System. I’ll highlight this last thing again for the release of CC 2014.

Firstly, what Adobe does not seem to get, is that if they want to pretend they’re offering a connected experience, then they need to actually offer that. Do not send me an email reminder to open your software updater. Your software updater is already reminding me, up there in my menu bar, to do just that. All the updater does is launch another menubar application — Adobe’s Creative Cloud app. So we’re up to one email and two menu bar apps. Why? It’s still a bunch of balkanized software under the hood, that’s why.

Because Creative Cloud’s menu bar app is a menu app, it goes on doing the install in the background. Until such time as it decides to steal focus while you’re typing to tell you the update finished. Sloppy.

Also, if Creative Cloud detects you already have a font installed on your system, like Courier Prime, or Source Sans Pro, their new font installer will just freak out and give you a warning it can’t install them from TypeKit. Go to the ‘Fonts’ tab, click on Manage Fonts (not mentioned in the error message) and then your web browser will launch, do five redirects, and arrive at a TypeKit page where you can uncheck fonts you don’t want to sync. Problem is, you’re unchecking them at the service level, meaning if I log in to my Creative Cloud account on a different computer, it’ll get the same font setting applied, whether or not Courier Prime is present.

Ideally, Creative Cloud would prompt me that the fonts already exist and ask if I want to skip syncing them on my system. I’d click ‘Skip’, and then never worry about it again on this computer, until such time as that font is uninstalled, and it prompts me to ask if I’d like to sync it now.

Creative Cloud also does not install software updates automatically. Even after updating the Creative Cloud app. So go in and manually click the buttons for each app that it says needs an update (Spoiler alert: it’s every app.)

If you click for more information about anything in the Creative Cloud app, it launches your web browser and loads a page after following some redirects (always with the redirects). If this is where I’m supposed to update things, then this should also be where you display information about what I’m updating. You could counter that Adobe has so much information to display, that they need the screen space afforded by the browser. I would argue that means they should have more concise notes about their software instead of puffery.

There is a new ‘feature’ of sorts that the Creative Cloud app will tell you about. When updating my copy of Premiere CC, I get this lovely prompt telling me Adobe is opting all their customers in to sharing data about how we use their apps.

The release gives you the option to share information with Adobe about how you use the Creative Cloud desktop apps. This option is turned on by default and the information will be associated with your Creative Cloud account. This will allow us to provide you with a more personalized experience, as well as help us improve product quality and features. You can change your preference anytime on your Adobe Account Management page.

Call me paranoid, but I don’t like to share automated, user-specific information with companies whenever I have the option not to. Digging through their FAQ, it does seem pretty innocuous, but they also provide no method for me to see what they have specifically collected — buttons and menu item logging wouldn’t keylog my social security number or anything, but everything about their apps is so sloppy that they could inadvertently be collecting things and not realize it until the next time their servers are breached. Tinfoil hat, I know, but really why have any confidence in them?

You have the option to share the following types of information about how you use the Creative Cloud desktop apps:

  • System information, such as operating system, processor, and amount of memory installed
  • Adobe product information, such as version number
  • Adobe feature usage information, such as menu options or buttons selected

This information will be associated with your Adobe ID and may be used to personalize the application experience, provide feature usage data to the product teams to help improve the product, and to communicate with you.

Your content, and information about the content within your files, is not shared with Adobe.

If you would like to opt-out, go here. This only covers privacy settings for their desktop apps, and not services like TypeKit or Behance.

Broad Unappeal

Another thing that Adobe announced this week is a renewed push for mobile editing counterparts to their desktop apps. I say ‘renewed’ because none of the other apps they’ve attached the ‘Photoshop’ moniker to on iOS have really taken off. Note that Adobe makes no mention of their iOS Photoshop applications when they talk about the new Lightroom iOS app. If at first you don’t succeed, just barely try a little more?

The new app is Creative Cloud centric. Adobe wants to build a case for you to use their products for all of your things. Unfortunately, the reason they want to do this is to push hard on subscription revenue.

Last year, Adobe found out that photographers were unwilling to sign up for the full CC service when all they wanted was Photoshop, and Lightroom — And that those people didn’t see much value in yearly app upgrades for both apps either. They tried a program where you could pay $9.99 a month for Lightroom and Photoshop if you were a Lightroom 5 user, to try to sweeten the deal.

Last week, they just rolled that out to everyone, a $9.99 a month and you get access to both of those apps on any platform you want to run them on.

$9.99 a month is $119.88 a year because an annual commitment is required. That means you can only back out once a year. This is only a value if you were a customer that updated Photoshop and Lightroom every year. It’s certainly a dubious value if you weren’t the kind of person that updated regularly. Adobe iteratively tweaks these apps, they’re not landslide changes every year.

It’s not just your phone that Adobe wants in on, it wants to be your source for Market Solutions too. This isn’t satire! It’s a real page!

This just seems scattered. Is the focus on consumer photography, or tracking ‘campaigns’? iPhone photos, or DSLR? Everything sloppily crammed together?

No More Month to Month

Adobe has also done away with the month-to-month plans for everything except for ‘Complete’. If you select month-to-month on ‘Complete, you will pay $74.99 (a $25 markup per month over the ‘year’ rate). The rest of the plans now require you pay for the year, up-front, or pay monthly for a thing you can’t get out of for a year. Effectively identical because there is no discount for yearly vs. monthly on those plans.

Previously, Adobe had a plan where you could use a single app for $19.99 with a yearly commitment, or $29.99 a month without any commitment. If you’re only going to use Adobe Premiere once a year to update one thing, then it was fine. I had that active when they changed their plans, and I’m apparently grandfathered in, unless I stop my subscription. I should stop procrastinating on the edits I want to make because it’s not viable to maintain the subscription just so I can avoid the $74.99 a month option for the full suite. Nor do I want to spend, potentially, $239.88 a year to keep the month-to-month rate going.

These plans are crap. I don’t want to pay Adobe, year after year, for things that really don’t change very much. Sure, cumulatively, Lightroom has done a lot of stuff since its inception, but how big are the incremental updates? Premiere isn’t reinventing NLEs every year, nor should it. Why pay for the rest of my life for this?

2014-06-21 14:44:43

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