Adobe’s online office suite, Acrobat.com, is getting its first major upgrade since the service left beta back in June of this year. The new release, launching tomorrow, is an entirely unified experience thanks to the addition of a much-requested file organization tool, explains the service’s Director of Project Management Rick Treitman.
Also new are 35 user-requested features, including file searching capabilities and integrations with web services like Flickr and Google Image Search. However, one of the most exciting pieces to the upgraded service is the newly launched mobile component. With Acrobat.com’s smartphone application, users won’t just have access to their files on the go – they can also scan in new documents with their phone’s camera.
The New File Organizer
The one major new feature in this release of Acrobat.com is the file organizer. Before, files could live in three different places on the service. Now all files are accessible through one main interface.
The file organizer itself includes some handy features, too. Instead of using a traditional folder structure like you have on your computer’s hard drive, the service introduces something called “collections.” These are more like iTunes playlists than file folders (or even labels in Gmail) because files can be assigned to multiple collections instead of having to sit in just one folder.
Another key component to the organizer is a file search tool. Believe it or not, the online service had no way of helping you find your files until now. Although the current search capabilities don’t yet offer full text search of your documents, Adobe says that may come further down the road.
Also new is the organizer’s “import and edit” feature which lets you open external files directly into the appropriate program so you can begin to work on them online. In the past, you had to first launch the program, then import the file. This time-saving step is more akin to what rival Google Docs offers via their upload feature except that in Acrobat.com, you don’t have to click a link to open the uploaded file – it happens automatically.
Other New Features
The various online office programs themselves have seen improvements as well in this new release. Buzzword is leaving beta and now it, along with Presentations, lets you import images from online services like Flickr and Google Images in addition to the images found on your computer. One drawback to this feature, though, is that the online image searches don’t offer filtering by license type, so a user could easily get into trouble by adding a copyrighted or otherwise licensed photo into their document if they neglect to check permissions first.
The Tables app, still in beta, now has the ability to do more data sorting and filtering. It also adds new views including a print layout view that shows what the document will look like on the printed page.
Acrobat.com Comes to iPhone, Blackberry
One of the more exciting developments is the new Acrobat.com mobile application which will be made available to Blackberry and iPhone users shortly. Built in conjunction with a company called scanR, the mobile application lets users take advantage of their mobile phone’s camera to add new files to the service. After taking the photo, the app uses OCR technology to convert the image to text. How well this works is unknown at this time because the app has not yet arrived in the respective app stores.
The app also lets users view their files in a read-only mode, convert them to PDFs, and share them with others via fax or email. There will be two versions of the app made available – a free version and a premium offering which will allow for more PDF conversions and faxes.
According to Adobe, the Acrobat.com service is faring well. They already have 6 million users and add around 100,000 more each week. While a lot of users are students and SMB owners looking for a free alternative to more expensive Microsoft Office software, the company says they’re also seeing the service picked up and used in small workgroups at larger companies. However, Adobe admits that they’re not an enterprise play yet and they also won’t reveal how many people use the premium version of the service – only that they’re “happy” with the number thus far.
If you want to try the upgraded online suite, you can do so at www.acrobat.com as of tomorrow (Saturday, November 21st) at 6 AM EST.