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Adobe launches Creative Cloud Express

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Adobe today launched Creative Cloud Express, a new mobile and web app that brings some of the best features of the company’s sprawling Creative Cloud Suite and Acrobat PDF tools into a single application to help users quickly create anything from social media posts to promotional posters and videos.

Using a template-first approach with built-in access to stock images and other assets, Creative Cloud Express is meant to be far more accessible than the individual Creative Cloud apps. The app will come in both a free version and a paid $9.99/month edition with additional capabilities and a library of more complex templates. Access to the new application will also be includes in Adobe’s Creative Cloud All Apps and flagship single-app plans.

Image Credits: Adobe

Besides the web app, a free app is now also available in Apple’s app store, Google Play and the Microsoft Store.

The general idea behind Creative Cloud Express is to give non-professionals the tools they need to bring their vision to life. As Adobe’s Ashley Still noted, the company has seen a lot of growth from non-professional users in recent years. But while a lot of these users may initially think they want the precision and control of a full Creative Cloud app, the reality is that what they often really want is a fast and easy way to accomplish the same tasks.

“What we’re doing with Creative Cloud Express is we’re taking all the learnings from our breadth of web and mobile apps, as well as our core Creative Cloud technology — whether it’s Photoshop and imaging or video — and we’re bringing it into a unified offering called Creative Cloud Express,” Still said. “This is really for people who are focused on outcome and not process. They don’t want to start with a blank page, they want to start with an image from the 175 million strong Adobe Stock library. They don’t want to create a font, they want to get access to one of our 20,000 amazing fonts from the Adobe Font library. They don’t want to go to multiple applications to create a flyer and then create a PDF so they can print it. They want to be able to do it all in one place.”

Image Credits: Adobe

In practice, this means you get access to a vast library of templates to get started, but also tools to quickly remove the background from an image or apply Photoshop-style filters and effects to these images. Thanks to an integration with Creative Cloud Libraries, users will also be able to take assets from Photoshop and Illustrator that maybe a colleague created for them and then re-use them in the Creative Cloud Express app.

There are also tools to convert videos to GIFs, convert documents to PDFs and more. One interesting aspect here is the integration of Adobe Stock, which doesn’t feature a free plan but which is integrated (with some limitations) into the free version of Creative Cloud Express. Free users will get access to about 1 million images and other assets. Premium plan users will get access to 175 million Adobe Stock photos, 20,000 fonts and access to Photoshop Express and Premiere Rush.

“Less is more in Creative Cloud Express,” she said. “You don’t need to be able to do everything in Photoshop. Like you don’t need neural filters, but you do need to be able to do a few simple things like remove a background or make simple edits to an image. With Acrobat, you don’t need to password protect a PDF, you need to be able to create a PDF, edit a PDF. A lot of the simplicity comes with our own editing of what are the few most important things that that people need to achieve? What are their intentions?”

Image Credits: Adobe

In some ways, Creative Cloud Express feels a bit like Spark, its tools for building social graphics, short videos and web sites, on steroids. Adobe wouldn’t say so, but if you think of this as Spark on steroids, I don’t think you’re very far off as Creative Cloud Express shares a lot of the user interface design and overall philosophy. Indeed, if you went to adobe.com/express before the launch, it would redirect you to the Spark homepage.

But as Still noted, the company isn’t seeing this as a replacement for applications like Spark, Photoshop Express or Premiere Rush, all of which are also meant to take some of Adobe’s core features and AI tools and make them more accessible.

The target audience is also a bit wider for Creative Cloud Express. Adobe wants it to become the go-to content creation tool for anybody from students to small business owners.

“Everyone has a story to tell and it’s our mission to empower everyone to express their ideas,” said Scott Belsky, chief product officer and executive vice president, Creative Cloud, Adobe. “In this unique time, where millions of people are building a personal and professional brand, we’re excited to launch Creative Cloud Express as a simple, template-based tool that unifies the creation, collaboration and sharing process so anyone can create with ease.”

Source: Tech

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Baidu’s electric car brand Jidu closes $400M Series A round

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Once an industry with long development cycles, the automotive space is being upended by China’s tech giants. One can hardly keep up with all the new electric vehicle brands that come out of the country nowadays. Jidu, an electric carmaking company founded by Baidu and its Chinese auto partner Geely only a year ago, said Wednesday it has banked nearly $400 million in a Series A funding round.

The new injection, bankrolled by Baidu and Geely, which owns Volvo, is a boost to the $300 million initiation capital that Jidu closed last March. The proceeds will speed up Jidu’s R&D and mass production process and allow it to showcase its first concept “robocar” — which it classifies as an automotive robot rather than a car — at the Beijing auto show in April. The mass-produced version of the robocar will launch in 2023.

Jidu’s chief executive Xia Yiping previously headed the connected car unit of Fiat Chrysler in the APAC region and co-founded Mobike, the Chinese bike-sharing pioneer acquired by Meituan in 2018.

The rate at which Jidu has moved forward is remarkable but could easily attract skeptics who question its tech’s viability. The speedy cycle, the carmaker explained, is thanks to its strategy of using a simulated prototype car to develop its smart cockpit and autonomous driving systems, rather than testing individual hardware parts in a mass-produced vehicle.

The carmaker said in as short as nine months, it has “tested and proven” the safety and reliability of its Level 4 (autonomous driving without human interaction in most circumstances) capabilities for urban and highway roads.

The EV startup is also putting a big emphasis on branding and fan community, something its competitor Nio is known for. In December, it started recruiting car lovers to join its “Jidu Union” to geek out about cars at online and offline events.

Moving forward, Jidu will be hiring and training talent specializing in autonomous driving, smart cockpits, smart manufacturing and other related technologies.

Source: Tech

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Resilience raises $45 million for its cancer care startup

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French startup Resilience announced yesterday that it has raised a $45 million (€40 million) Series A round led by Cathay Innovation. The startup wants to improve the treatment journey when you’re diagnosed with cancer so that you live a healthier and longer life.

In addition to Cathay Innovation, existing investor Singular is also participating. Other funds are joining the round, such as Exor Seeds, Picus Capital and Seaya Ventures. Finally some healthcare investors are rounding up the round — Fondation Santé Service, MACSF, Ramsay Santé and Vivalto Ventures.

I already profiled Resilience in March 2021 so I encourage you to read my previous article to learn more about the company. Co-founded by two serial entrepreneurs, Céline Lazorthes and Jonathan Benhamou, the company wants to help both patients and caregivers when it comes to cancer care.

On the patient side, Resilience helps you measure, understand and deal with the effects and side effects of cancer and cancer treatments. Users can track various data points in the app and find content and information about their illness.

But Resilience isn’t just an app that you use at home. It is also a software-as-a-service solution for hospitals so that they can better personalize their treatments. Resilience has been founded in partnership with Gustave Roussy, one of the leading cancer research institutes in the world.

Practitioners will be able to take advantage of all the data that patients have gathered from the app. This way, cancer treatment facilities understand the patient better and can adapt their care more quickly. Resilience has acquired Betterise to gain a head start when it comes to data-driven cancer care.

The long-term vision is even more ambitious than that. If you talk with a caregiver working for a cancer treatment facility, they’ll tell you they never have enough time.

And it’s even more difficult to keep track of new treatments that are becoming more and more specialized. Resilience doesn’t want to replace doctors. But it wants to help them overcome blindspots.

The result should be better care for patients, as well as more support through the Resilience app. Cancer care is a long and painful process, so anything that can improve this process is a good thing.

Source: Tech

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PQShield raises $20M for its quantum-ready, future-proof cryptographic security solutions

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Quantum computing promises to unlock a new wave of processing power for the most complex calculations, but that could prove to be just as harmful as it is helpful: security specialists warn that malicious hackers will be able to use quantum machines to break through today’s standards in cryptography and encryption. Today, a startup called PQShield that is working on “future-proof” cryptographic products — software and hardware solutions that not only keep data secure today, but also secure in anticipation of a computationally more sophisticated tomorrow — is announcing some funding as it finds some significant traction for its approach.

The startup, spun out of the research labs at Oxford, has raised $20 million, a Series A that it will be using to continue its research and, in conjunction with partners and customers, product development. The startup is already staffed with an impressive number of PhDs and other researchers across the UK (its base remains in Oxford), the U.S., France and the Netherlands, but it will also be using the funds to recruit more talent to the team.

Addition, the investment firm founded by Lee Fixel, is leading this round with Oxford Science Enterprises (formerly known as OSI) and Crane also participating. The latter two are previous backers from PQShield’s $7 million seed round in 2020.

If machine learning is shaping up to be one of the more popular (and perhaps most obvious) applications for quantum computing, security is perhaps that theme’s most ominous leitmotif.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S. identified the risks of using quantum computing for malicious security intent some eight years ago and has been receiving research submissions globally in search of coming up with some standards to counteract that threat. (PQShield is one of the contributors.) Based on signals from other government bodies like the Department of Homeland Security — coupled with a memo from the White House just earlier this month mandating that the government’s intelligence and defense services make the switch to “quantum-resistant” algorithms in 180 days — it looks like the standards process will be completed this year, getting the wheels in motion for companies that are building solutions to address all this.

“One memo can change everything,” PQShield’s CEO and founder Ali El Kaafarani said in an interview.

PQShield (the PQ stands for “post-quantum”) has been working with governments, OEMs and others that are part of the customer base for this technology — adopting it to secure their systems, or building components that will be going into products that will secure their data, or in some cases, both. Its customers includes both private and public organizations impacted by the threat. Bosch is one OEM name that it has disclosed, and El Kaafarani said more will be revealed when PQShield announces its first commercially available solutions. (Other sectors it’s working with include automotive OEM, industrial IoT, and technology consulting, it says.)

PQShield’s solutions, meanwhile, are currently coming in three formats. There is a system on a chip that is designed to sit on hardware like smartcards or processors. It also is making software by way of a cryptographic SDK that can be integrated into mobile and server apps and technologies used to process data or run security operations. And thirdly, in a new addition since it raised its seed round, it’s making a toolkit aimed at communications companies designed specifically to secure messaging services. This latter is perhaps the one that might most immediately touch the consumer market, which has been fertile ground for malicious hackers, and has increasingly become a focus for regulators and ordinary people concerned about how and where their data gets used.

All of these, El Kaafarani said, are designed to work together, or separately as needed by a would-be customer, with the key being that what it is building now can be used today, as well as in a quantum computing future.

The idea of a “quantum threat” might sound remote to most people, considering that we’re still some years away from quantum computing becoming a commercial, scalable industry, but the reality is that malicious hackers have been collecting data that will help them “solve” current cryptographic keys using those machines for years at this point. Some of this data has been publicly shown off, and much has not. All of this has been leading, El Kaafarani noted, to an “inflection point where people are now ready to think about the next phase of public key infrastructure,” which he summed up in layman’s terms as the difference between “math that is still easy to solve, and math that will still be very difficult to solve, even on a quantum computer,” due to particular combinations of math problems and aspects of complexity theory.

Quantum computing, even at its still largely nascent stage, has been fueling a lot of startup and big-tech activity. Atom Computing (which designs quantum computing systems) and Terra Quantum (building quantum-computing-as-a-service, given the likely high cost of these machines) each raised $60 million earlier this month. Intel, IBM and Amazon are among those that have making significant investments in quantum servers and processors for years now. There are others also working specifically on quantum security.

In that context, PQShield groundbreaking role in helping develop standards, and its existing network of customers and partners, spells a clear opportunity and promise for investors:

“Thanks to an industry-leading team, decades of combined experience and a best-in-class product offering, PQShield has quickly emerged as a front runner and true authority in post-quantum cryptography for hardware and software, a field with enormous market potential,” said Fixel in a statement. “PQShield is already helping to define the future of information security, and we are excited to support their ongoing growth.”

Source: Tech

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