Adobe is making a major move into the cloud. The company has just announced the next version of its flagship digital editing tools, Creative Suite, and for the first time the new products will only be available through the company's online subscription service. Adobe previously offered standalone editions of each product, which users could choose to keep or upgrade as new editions were released, but now the only way to receive major feature updates to the product series will be to remain subscribed to the $49.99 per month service.

Adobe could stem piracy by requiring subscriptions

The company is giving its application suite a new, but familiar name to emphasize the change: Adobe Creative Cloud will be replacing Creative Suite 6, the version released last year. The product series has been on a yearly release cycle since 2011, and this latest upgrade includes new features for nearly every product in the series, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro, all of which now have their name appended with CC, instead of CS.

All of the apps in Creative Cloud will be replaced with the newly upgraded ones when Adobe releases them on June 17th. The company will continue to sell standalone copies of Creative Suite 6 applications for now, but it will not continue to update them with new features.

As the products' new naming scheme suggests, Adobe is enhancing the cloud integration between all of its services. The company says that a new desktop companion app will be able to automatically keep every CC product up to date. It's also integrating many of the apps with Behance, a site that allows artists to present their work and receive feedback from others. Adobe purchased the website in December, and it will now use the Creative Cloud companion app as a way to notify users of any comments made on their work.

The Creative Cloud upgrade is about integrating apps and services

Though Adobe is drawing a focus to its cloud services, it isn't actually changing much about them. Instead, this series of updates is tailored toward streamlining the interactions between apps and websites, rather than adding cloud-centric features. But for Adobe, the subscription requirement could help to stem the continual threat of piracy, while also making its products both more accessible to new users and more expensive in the long run. Users will be able to run the programs offline, but once each month, the apps will need to verify with Adobe's servers that a subscription is still valid.

As usual, the best known app of the suite — Photoshop — is receiving a number of major features to help repair photos that didn't turn out quite right.

The most impressive feature of the bunch is a tool that the company says will be able to remove blur from photographs that was caused by camera shake. The company demonstrated the tool for The Verge using a photograph of a painting hung in a museum — though we haven't had the chance to play around with it ourselves, when demonstrated by Adobe the tool did an impressive job at recovering detail that had been lost. The company first showed off the feature in 2011, and more than a few photographers with unsteady hands will be happy to see that it's finally shipped.

Easier than ever to keep photos sharp

Adobe is also including two other additions to help keep photos sharp. The company says that an improved version of Photoshop's automatic sharpening algorithm will better detect what you're trying to sharpen. In a demonstration, Adobe presented how the tool determined that it should focus primarily on certain foreground objects, rather than adding unneeded grain and detail to softer objects in the background as the tool did in CS6. The app's upscaling tool is also said to create more detailed images than before. When enlarging an image, small features that might normally become softened should better retain definition after the update.

The rest of the suite is seeing a number of improvements as well. In Illustrator, users can now apply basic alterations to individual characters of text and then change each letter later on, while the alterations remain applied. The company has also built an iPhone app for Kuler, an Adobe web service used to build and share color swatches. The new app detects a set of colors using the iPhone's camera, and then sends that color sequence into Illustrator itself. Other video-focused applications in the suite are receiving updates that allow settings to be synced across workstations.

Adobe will be giving temporary discounts on Creative Cloud subscriptions to anyone who owns a product from CS3 or later. The discounts reduce the price of both the full Creative Cloud subscription and the single-app subscriptions, bringing the price to $29.99 for the former and $9.99 for the latter, down from about twice that. However, the discounts will only be valid for 12 months, and the company hasn't revealed any plans to permanently alter the price tag for longtime subscribers.