Adobe's Aviary Acquisition Aimed at Accelerating Mobile App Dev

Adobe acquired mobile SDK provider Aviary to help deliver an uber SDK for developers to tap Adobe's creative technologies for building mobile apps.

Mobile app dev

Adobe yesterday announced its acquisition of Aviary, a developer of mobile SDKs for the delivery of creative apps.

The move, which comes ahead of Adobe's MAX 2014 creative conference in early October, is aimed at accelerating Adobe Creative Cloud application development by enhancing the delivery of mobile apps that integrate with the company's Creative Cloud.

Adobe officials said that, with millions of people already using Aviary-powered photo-editing apps and thousands of developers using Aviary's SDKs across mobile platforms, the Aviary acquisition accelerates Adobe's strategy to make Creative Cloud a vibrant platform for third-party apps, through a new Creative SDK. Currently under development, Adobe Creative SDK is a software library that enables developers to tap into Adobe's creative technologies to build mobile apps and drive new connections between mobile devices and Adobe Creative Cloud desktop applications and services.

"This is great news for developers because thousands of mobile apps will have the opportunity to become compatible with industry-defining desktop tools like Photoshop CC, as well as new Creative Cloud services," Scott Belsky, vice president of Creative Cloud Ecosystem & Behance at Adobe, said in a statement.

Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC, told eWEEK the Adobe move is perfectly in-line with Adobe's broadening the appeal of its platform to a broader audience of creative users, which is effectively everyone who might take a picture and have the passion to make it look good.

"The technology behind Aviary is quite impressive as the company has clearly been targeting developers with cloud services and an SDK that allows them to integrate photo-editing functions within an app, where it is most likely to be used," Hilwa said. "Over time, I expect them to integrate this into their back-end services in Adobe Cloud. We are going to be seeing more and more traditional PC software is being factored into APIs and made available in a granular fashion to developers to embed in their apps."

In a blog post on the acquisition, Belsky said: "The Aviary teams are pioneers in designing SDK's for mobile creation and building a vibrant developer ecosystem. Headquartered in New York City (not too far from the Adobe/Behance office!), Aviary offers a photo-editing platform that powers thousands of mobile applications, including its self-titled iOS and Android apps, and has been used to edit billions of images. The cornerstone of the Aviary platform is a free SDK that provides developers with a robust, customizable photo editor that can be effortlessly embedded into apps on iOS, Android, Windows and Web (HTML5)."

Adobe Creative SDK gives third-party developers access to Adobe APIs, previously only available to Adobe's internal engineering teams. Examples include browsing files stored in Creative Cloud; extracting elements from PSD files; Adobe's "Touch Slide" software for straight-line drawing; and cloud image-editing services like Content-Aware Fill and Upright. Adobe Photoshop Mix, a recently launched mobile app for iOS, uses these new APIs and offers some of Adobe's best imaging technology for applying Photoshop styles and compositing images. Adobe Creative SDK is currently being tested by developers and a beta launch is expected in the coming months.

Further explaining the impetus for the acquisition, Belsky wrote:

"Today, there is so little professional creation done on mobile devices. Even among the greatest creative apps on the market, creativity is bounded by each app you are using and often ends with a 'Save To Camera Roll' or a 'Share' or 'Send' as a low-quality image. While mobile has transformed so many industries, it has not yet transformed how Creatives work. A year ago, we rebooted Adobe's mobile strategy with an eye on the future of creation. We imagined ways that Creative Cloud could enable frictionless creativity across devices, and mobile apps that work magically with desktop apps. In June, we launched the first stage of this strategy, and we will unveil a whole set of updates and new apps at MAX on Oct. 6.

"But great Adobe mobile apps are not enough. Creativity must be connected across all the apps that you use, Adobe and beyond. In an effort to extend Adobe technology—and compatibility with our tools—to third-party creative applications, we launched Adobe's Creative SDK in private beta in June. The immense value of the Creative SDK has already proven itself in some of our own apps and with early developer partners. We have high hopes for the Creative SDK and are thrilled that Aviary will infuse wisdom, technology, and reach to new developers."

Meanwhile, "Aviary was founded to bring creative freedom to the world," wrote Tobias Peggs, CEO of Aviary, in a blog post. He noted that Aviary offers a free SDK to third-party developers. "This allows us to extend our technology and creative tools not only to Aviary app users, but to users of thousands of other creative mobile apps that today are used by millions of people to edit billions of images each month. It also gets at the core of Aviary's philosophy: that mobile creativity happens best across a diverse ecosystem of apps that users are free to choose, not in silos."