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feedly-pro.jpgSince the untimely demise of Google Reader, many web users have been scrambling around to find the best alternative news aggregator. Quickly rising to the top of the pile was Feedly, who have today announced a new premium service to go alongside their free offering called Feedly Pro.

For a monthly $5 fee (£3.20) or $45 annually (around £30), Feedly Pro users will get new features including the ability to search within feeds and https browsing for added security. Evernote integration is also included, with a single click sending an article to your Evernote digital scrapbook. Feedly Pro members will also get priority support from the Feedly team.

All features will also be making their way to the Feedly mobile applications.

The newly-introduced features won't be the last either, with Feedly promising to take in and work on feedback given by their new subscribers.

"We will be introducing new pro features regularly," says the company.

"The next batch of features will be decided on by Feedly Pro users themselves, as you will get to vote on what features you would like Feedly to develop next."

To get the Feedly Pro user bass booming from the off, the company are also offering a one-time subscription offer of $99 (£64.63) for lifetime access to Feedly Pro. Only 5,000 of the lifetime packages will ever be offered, so you better grab them quickly.

Click here for more.

adobe-lightroom-2013.jpgAdobe has finally free Lightroom 5 from it's beta-testing phase shackles, making the latest version of its photo editing app available to all.

One of Adobe's first products to integrate fully with the company's Adobe Creative Cloud system, it's available as an individual license or as part of the company's new cloud service.

Improvements over the last version of the app include a one-click image "healing" brush, removing shot imperfections, and an upright tool that acts like a title-shift lens.

There's also a tool to fix perspective warp from wide-angle lenses, and the addition of radial gradients to apply multiple different vignette effects to different elements of a single image. Overall, Adobe have added more than 50 tweaks over the last edition of Lightroom.

"Lightroom was originally conceived through the requests of Adobe customers, and this feedback continues to drive each new iteration," said Winston Hendrickson, vice president of products, Creative Media Solutions, Adobe.

"As the digital photography landscape advances and evolves, Lightroom is the best solution for photographers and passionate hobbyists who want to get the most out of their digital images."

Adobe Creative Cloud users can access the new version of the app right now, while there's also the option to purchase the software directly from Adobe's website. For newcomers, Lightroom 5 will cost £102.57, while those looking to upgrade from earlier versions can nab it for just £57.64.

writers-block-top.jpgYour great unwritten novel. We've all got one, right? Sitting on the back burner, never to see the light of day beyond the flicker of an idea hiding at the back of your mind for God-knows how many years.

It doesn't have to be that way! If the prospect of writing your book has been daunting in the past, let it be known that there are plenty of applications that can help get your creative juices flowing, as well as making organising your novel incredibly easy. As part of Tech Digest's eBook self publishing season, here's our pick of 10 essential applications for authors.

office-356-home-premium.pngMicrosoft have today revealed Office 2013 with 365 Home Premium, the latest evolution of the company's massively popular application suite.

Office 2013 and the 365 Home Premium options looks set to be one of the most different instalments of the suite ever to launch. Including desktop staples Outlook, Excel, Word and PowerPoint, it now features online cloud storage and backup of documents, keeping up-to-date copies of files across up to five licensed devices, including PCs, Macs, Windows Phone smartphones and Windows 8 tablets. Documents will also be accessible through a web browser, seeing Microsoft directly challenging Google and their web apps in a space that the search giant has dominated thus far almost unchallenged.

"Today's launch of Office 365 Home Premium marks the next big step in Microsoft's transformation to a devices and services business," said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.

"This is so much more than just another release of Office. This is Office reinvented as a consumer cloud service with all the full-featured Office applications people know and love, together with impressive new cloud and social benefits."

Office 365 Home Premium will be available as a subscription service too, letting users access the apps for £7.99 a month or £79.99 a year. Physical editions of the software suite will also be available. You can browse all the options here.

With the software now cloud-based, major updates are expected to land far more regularly than with previous editions of the suite, which have traditionally ran on three-year update cycles.

"This is a major leap forward," said Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Office Division.

"People's needs change rapidly and Office 365 Home Premium will change with them."

The subscription deal is sweetened further with 20GB of SkyDrive storage a month, 60 minutes of international Skype calling credit, with the voice and video calling application making its debut as an Office suite app following Microsoft's purchase of the company back in May 2011.

Click here to check out the Microsoft Office website and grab a 30-day free trial.

Photoshop.jpgAdboe's CS6 image editing applications Photoshop and Illustrator have both been updated to support HiDPI displays, meaning that the software now looks pin sharp on Apple's latest MacBook Pro with Retina display models.

While those two updates roll out today, Adobe have confirmed that "key products" including Dreamweaver, Edge Animate, Lightroom, Photoshop Touch, Prelude, Adobe Premiere Pro and SpeedGrade will all also be getting the update in the coming months, so long as users are running the CS6 versions of those applications.

However, there's no word yet on whether the consumer grade Photoshop Elements will get the same high-res touch up, with the elements team researching "the effort required to support these new displays."

RELATED:
REVIEW: Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended

skydrive-banner.jpgNewly uncovered code in SkyDrive suggests that, as teased by the Redmond company, Microsoft will be adding cloud streaming of personal tunes to their online storage system.

An internal testing version of SkyDrive reveals new media player controls and references to a music player being featured as an internal part of SkyDrive have been uncovered. The leak suggests similar functionality as iTunes Match and Google Music's Scan and Match, letting you personal library of songs be mimicked in the cloud by Microsoft's own catalogue where possible, as well as uploading your own tracks.

Microsoft have previously stated that cloud functionality for personal tunes will be coming to Xbox Music:

"Available in the coming year, a scan-and-match feature will take you beyond the 30 million tracks globally offered through Xbox Music. It will add all the music you own to your Xbox Music cloud catalog, including music acquired through other services. This means you can add almost any content you have to your personal Xbox Music collection, even if it's not available in the Xbox Music catalog" said Microsoft.

It's still uncertain whether or not the newly unveiled code will be implemented in either SkyDrive or Xbox Music, or even both however. What seems most likely is that over the coming months the two services will be brought closer together, with shared functionality linking the two services.

No word yet on the new cloud feature's release date, nor which platforms it will eventually land on.

Via: LiveSide

laura-yecies-top.jpgAs cloud storage becomes more and more the norm for both consumers and businesses, concerns are being raised around the cloud's energy efficiency. Companies like Apple with their iCloud service have fallen foul of campaigns from the likes of Greenpeace, who claim that cloud storage data centres have poor green credentials.

It's a claim that Laura Yecies, CEO of leading cloud storage service SugarSync, strongly rebukes.

"It's totally ridiculous" said Yecies, speaking to Tech Digest at the launch of SugarSync 2.0, the latest version of the company's cloud storage platform.

"Cloud storage is not 100% efficient, but it's much, much less inefficient than the computer that you're using.

"Some of these articles are saying 'Well some of these dirty cloud server farms are only operating at 20% capacity'. Well home computers are only running at 5% capacity. The reality is that the cloud is much more efficient than masses of computers spread all around."

Yecies claimed that it was in SugarSync's best interests, both financially and morally, to be as green as possible.

"Companies like SugarSync, we are trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible," Yecies continued.

"It's in our interests to minimise the use of power, and to minimise the use of resources. An interesting fact is that when we buy a server, typically the useful life of a server is three years. Over those three years we pay more in power than we did for the server. So we're very conscious of acquiring efficient servers; I'm better off getting a more expensive server that's more power efficient. Does any home consumer even think about that when buying their hardware? No; maybe when you buy a refrigerator, but not for computers. Servers are marketed, sold and bought all around energy efficiency.

"For me as a server customer, running a data centre business, my biggest expense is power. We'll run out of space at our centres not because of physical space but power requirements.

"Electricity consumption for data centres in the US is 2 or 3%, but consumers through their homes use way more than that. But all of it does need to get more efficient."

We've spent the last few weeks using the new SugarSync 2.0 cloud storage service. Click here for our thoughts.

sugarsync-top.jpgIt's already been heralded by some experts as the ultimate cloud storage solution, but the team at SugarSync haven't been resting on their laurels. They've just launched SugarSync 2.0, a totally revamped version of their remote online storage service that's been a year in the making. We've been using it for a few weeks now and are totally sold on it. In our opinion, this is the first time that Dropbox has had serious competition.

Returning SugarSync users will first note the new-look UI. Aiming to deliver a more uniform look across platforms, be they mobile devices or computers, SugarSync 2.0 uses a simple drag-and-drop interface to let you sync files and folders with the cloud. Both the option of using an unobtrusive applet or your own OS's file management system to browse your cloud synced files (thanks to the new SugarSync virtual drive feature) are available, giving added flexibility to let you work how you're most comfortable.

SugarSync also allows for multiple folders, stored wherever you like on whichever device you are using, to be highlighted for syncing, as opposed to Dropbox's single global syncing folder (and it's many sub-level folders). This can become a little unwieldy if you're not careful, but SugarSync have thankfully added search functionality across the cloud storage space; a first for services of this kind. You'll quickly be able to hunt down specific files as a result, regardless of how disorganized your files are kept.

Folder sharing between friends and colleagues returns, with security features allowing you to make the contents of files read-only if needed. SugarSync 2.0 also adds a nifty new social link sharing feature, letting you post public links through Twitter, Facebook or via email to folders you want to distribute online. It's a great way for pushing content to many public collaborators at once, while SugarSync's stellar security features mean access to your other personal files remain protected.

But perhaps our favourite feature is the ability to selectively sync files and folders across machines, made easier than ever by the new clean UI. Whereas the likes of Dropbox insist you sync all files across all devices, SugarSync lets you sync only the files you require to the specific devices they are needed on."As more non-technical users incorporate the Cloud into their everyday life, we've made a point to work with our customers and understand what they really need. As a result, we went back to the drawing board and redesigned SugarSync from the ground up," said Laura Yecies, CEO of SugarSync.

"And while we have drastically simplified the use of the Cloud with SugarSync 2.0, we have kept all the unique power and functionality our existing users love - while also introducing even more powerful new features such as more flexible sharing and integrated search that users have been requesting, as well as an industry-first Cloud drive called 'SugarSync Drive' that enables access to Cloud data right from your file system."

SugarSync 2.0 desktop and Web apps are available now through the public beta, and can be downloaded today for Windows and Mac. The new SugarSync 2.0 for Android app is also available now, and can be downloaded from the SugarSync 2.0 Beta page. Mobile apps for all other mobile platforms (iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian) will be coming soon, but the current SugarSync mobile apps will continue to work with the SugarSync 2.0 Web and desktop apps.

New SugarSync users get 5GB of storage for free, and can earn up to 32GB by referring pals and colleagues to the service (you get 500MB for each new free user you refer). You can earn unlimited free storage by referring paid users, as SugarSync offers 10GB of additional storage - with no limit - for each new paid subscriber you refer.

steam-software.pngSteam, Valve's premier digital download service for gamers, has now expanded to include non-gaming software among their wares.

A small collection of six titles hits the store initially, and unsurprisingly all are focussed towards gamers and those wishing to make supplementary content and their own games for the wider Steam community.

They include ArtRage Studio Pro, CameraBag 2, GameMaker: Studio, 3D-Coat, 3DMark Vantage and 3DMark 11.

Landing a little later than the originally proposed September launch date, non-gaming software is currently only available to PC users of Steam, though a Mac launch is expected to follow shortly.

Productivity software through Steam will enjoy the same sale (and bizarrely, achievements) as gaming software on the platform. To kick off proceedings, all six software suites are currently reduced by 10% from their usual asking price, until October 9th.

steam-expansion.pngValve's Steam download platform is preparing to expand beyond games, with productivity software from different publishers landing on their store from 5 September.

Productivity software on Steam will benefit from the same update functionality as games, with apps tied to an account rather than an individual machine. Software can be launched from the desktop portal, with work saved to the Steam Cloud, with both free and paid-for software set to land.

Both PC and Mac software will feature, with developers encouraged to submit their apps through Steam Greenlight, a service that sees the community decide which titles get distribution.

"The 40 million gamers frequenting Steam are interested in more than playing games," said Valve's Mark Richardson.

"They have told us they would like to have more of their software on Steam, so this expansion is in response to those customer requests."

Does all play and no work make Valve a dull boy? We're not sure how we feel about our go-to PC playground getting a little more serious, but any digital market place that could drive down prices can't be a bad thing we suppose.

macbook-pro-retina-top.jpgApple Mac computers (be they iMac, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air) have been the go-to machines for creatives for many a year now, with an intuitive interface conducive to getting imaginative work done quickly and effectively. When it comes to image and photo editing jobs, that's mostly down to the superb apps available on Mac OS X. From lightweight editing apps like Simply HDR to the titans of the industry like Photoshop and Aperture, here we pick our ten favourite image and photo editing apps for Mac.

Scroll down to get started!

Apple_Safari-thumb.pngIf you're reading this post as a Windows user on Apple's Safari web browser, you may be about to become one of a dying breed; it appears that the Cupertino company have pulled support for the Windows version of their browser.

All references and download links to the Windows version of Safari have seemingly been wiped from the Apple website, just as the company prepare to launch Safari 6 today. While those who delve deep into Apple's support pages can find a hidden link to May's 5.1.7 version, Apple look to be wiping out any mention of the browser for Windows users.

So why have Apple done this, if they've done it? With just 4.7 percent of the worldwide browser marketshare according to NetMarketShare (with a large portion of that small share likely being down to Safari being the default browser for Macs), Apple likely feel their resources are better spent elsewhere.

"While I find Safari to be an adequate browser for the Mac OS X platform, when it comes to Windows I'd put it behind Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera and even Microsoft's Internet Explorer," says Forbes' Adrian Kingsley-Hughes.

"In fact, the only time I even fire it up on Windows is when I'm testing something,"

Indeed, Safari is at its best when running inside the OS X ecosystem, what with features like Offline Reading Lists and Password Pane.

Apple are still supporting Webkit development for Windows, with new builds of the open-source framework still landing each night, suggesting the Windows version is simply delayed rather than axed.

But Apple's deletion of any mention of the Windows software seems to suggest otherwise.

mountain-lion-logo.jpgApple's new desktop operating system, Mac OS X Mountain Lion, is available today, Wednesday 25th July.

Over 200 new features will be coming to Mac OS X with Mountain Lion, including deep Facebook and Twitter integration, Game Center features and AirPlay screen mirroring.

When it lands in the US, it'll cost $19.99, with UK users paying a measly £13.99 for the upgrade.

Mountain Lion will not be available in an physical media formats however, so brace yourself for a sizeable 4GB download.

Those who have bought a compatible Mac product from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller on or after June 11, 2012 will also be eligible for a free upgrade through the OS X Mountain Lion Up-to-Date Program. Click here to check if you can grab it for free.

However, if you're working away with a Mac that uses a 32-bit kernel extension (KEXTs), it looks like you're out of luck. Mountain Lion requires your system be running the 64-bit Kernal we're afraid. If you've got an iMac or MacBook built after 2007, you should still be fine.

We'll have a full Mountain Lion review in the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled for it.

img_work from home.jpgreview-line.JPGForget the naysayers; the London 2012 Olympic Games are going to be great. Sure, it's been expensive, and some of the organisational stuff has been fluffed slightly, but it's gonna be a hell of a show, with the world's greatest living athletes all duking it out.

What isn't going to be easy however, particularly for Londoners, will be getting to work. There are expected to be an extra million tourists using London's public transport system every day while the games are on, while roads are being diverted and certain lanes cut off for all but prioritised Olympians and officials. The commute is going to be a nightmare.

But in this web-connected world of apps and clouds, it needn't mean your work or business has to ground to a halt. There are plenty of ways to get the job done from the comfort of your home. And you never even have to get out of your pyjamas either! As part of the Tech Digest Tech Pentathlon, we highlight some useful tools for working from home during the games.
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Virtualise your work desktop with LogMeIn or Parallels 7

LogMeIn Pro is a great service if you've got to have access to your exact work desktop while at home. A remote desktop virtualisation application, it gives you full control of a remotely located PC from either a home machine or mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.

The functionality offered by LogMeIn is really impressive. As well as full access to your desktop applications and files through a very intuitive UI, it fully supports HD video and audio streaming, makes synchronizing large databases of files very simple, offers screen sharing with colleagues and even local printing of remotely stored files.

While LogMeIn as standard supports iOS devices, pair the software with the LogMeIn Ignition mobile apps and you extend its potential even further with full Android and Windows Phone 7 support.

If you're a Mac user, things can be a pain as many offices use Window based systems, making some programs you use regularly for work inaccessible through Mac OS X. If that's a problem, pick up Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac

Parallels lets Mac users create a virtual Windows desktop on their Apple machines, and run both side by side, or in "parallel" if you prefer. It effectively puts all Windows applications at the fingertips of Mac users. Though Mac OS X's built in Bootcamp functionality is similar, it locks you into one operating system or the other, making working across both simultaneously impossible.

Using hypervisor technology, each operating system (when in use) is able to harness practically all the machine's power, meaning even intensive applications run near their maximum potential. There's even support for Chrome, Ubuntu and other operating systems, including the latest Windows 8 preview build.

Parallels offers further flexibility when paired with the Parallels Mobile app. With it, you can access all your Mac and Windows functionality from an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, making it just as easy to work down the pub as it is your home office during the sporting festivities.

"Planning ahead to minimise disruption during the Games is vital," said Kim Johnston, vice president of marketing for desktop virtualisation and Mac at Parallels.

"It is important for businesses and workers to quickly look at technology they can simply implement in the time left to help ensure they can work as productively as possible. For example, the ability to run Mac and Windows applications simultaneously on one computer and access them remotely via iPad and iPhone can give workers the flexibility to be productive from anywhere."
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Use cloud storage services like Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox and SkyDrive

The days of having to back up all your files to DVDs and external hard drives are over. We've entered the age of cloud storage, making it easier than ever to work from home, with all your important documents backed up and synced automatically. Cloud storage services are simple to use, and many offer sizeable amounts of free storage alongside their premium offerings. Four popular services are Google Drive, Apple's iCloud, Dropbox and Microsoft's SkyDrive.

Dropbox is our personal favourite. It easily lets you share folders for collaborative projects, drag-and-drop files for syncing, password-protect shared folders and automatically sync across multiple computers and devices. It uses an API that many other app and software developers already integrate into their own tools too. Though it only offers an initial 2GB of free storage, you can quickly bump that up to 18GB of free storage through a referral incentive. Premium paid for options are also available. A particularly snazzy feature for mobile users is that Dropbox will automatically sync your camera shots if you let it, meaning you never need to dig out that sync cable again. As well as Windows and Mac desktop clients, Dropbox supports Android, iOS and BlackBerry mobile.

Google Drive offers 5GB of free cloud storage, and supports public file sharing, file encryption and drag-and-drop syncing among many other features. Integrating Google Docs, you've also got access to a great web based word processor, and opens 30 different file types right inside your browser. In terms of mobile support, so far Google have only stumped up a dedicated Android app. There is also 10GB file size limit, that may turn off video editors. Again premium offerings are available.

Apple's iCloud gives 5GB of free storage, and is locked into Apple's ecosystem meaning it only works across iOS and Mac OS X devices. However, it seamlessly syncs documents across devices, and integrates with the Time Machine back-up service so that any changes you make to a file don't have to be irreversibly destructive. Its scope is limited, but in true Apple style it handles things so well behind the scenes that you'll appreciate its simplicity. Further storage space can be bought too.

Microsoft's SkyDrive offers the most free storage with its 7GB, with its main draw being how well it syncs Office documents from Word, Excel and Powerpoint. It's similar to iCloud in the way it's best suited to Microsoft's own products, but in-browser document editing functions give it the edge.
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Collaborate with apps like Google Docs and MindMeister

Web apps make collaborating online a piece of cake. Google Drive is the new home for Google Docs, a web-based document editor that lets you share a document with your colleagues and work on it and revise it in real time, letting you see changes being made instantly, and by whom. It also allows you to create and collaborate on word documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more. It's not as fully-featured as Microsoft's Office package, but what it lacks in functionality it easily makes up for with convenience and the fact that it's totally free.

If you need a more feature-rich, visual collaborative program, try MindMeister. Focussing on mind-mapping, it lets you quickly and effectively plan a project, with a video-style scrubber for rewinding through the history of each project's revisions and comments. It's not free though, setting you back £14.99 a month for the business level plan. Individuals can use the software for personal use at £4.99 a month. There's also a pro tier at £9.99 and all can benefit from a 30-day free trial.
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Hold video conferences with Skype and FaceTime

If you still need to have a face-to-face meeting, there are plenty of free-to-use video conferencing apps. Skype is the most popular, with free one-to-one video calling, VOIP conference calling and instant messaging, as well as reduced rates to landlines and mobiles. Cough up £5.99 a month (or just £2.99 a month if you opt in for a 12-month deal) and you can also add group video conferencing and group screen sharing to the mix too. It'll make your working world feel a lot smaller. As well as Mac and PC clients, Skype is available on a wide-range of mobile platforms.

FaceTime is another free video calling app that's exclusive to Apple devices. Users of iOS mobile devices with a front-facing camera or a Mac running OS X 10.6.6 and higher can use the service, with FaceTime pre-installed on the devices.

Top Image Credit: http://www.home-based-business-4u.com

mountain-lion-logo.jpgThe launch of Apple's Mountain Lion OS X update is now only weeks away, with the Gold Master version now available to developers. However, not all Mac owners will be able to benefit from the new operating system's feature set, with compatibility issues meaning that certain models won't be able to grab the new edition.

Head over to the Mountain Lion upgrade page and you'll be presented with the full list of Mac models all set to get the new OS. However, if you're working away with a Mac that uses a 32-bit kernel extension (KEXTs), it looks like you're out of luck. Mountain Lion requires your system be running the 64-bit Kernal we're afraid.

The core of the problem seems to lie with outdated graphics drivers problems. Apple don't seem keen to go back and work on these conflicting drivers, though at least it seems its only relatively older machines affected. From what we've seen so far of the list, if you've got an iMac or MacBook built after 2007, you should still be fine.

Mountain Lion is expected to hit the Mac App store before the end of the month. US users can expect to pay $19.99 for the upgrade, while UK users should expect to pay somewhere between £15 and £20.

Are you one of the affected users still hoping to upgrade your slightly older machine? Do you feel Apple are doing enough to keep you loyal, or are you getting tempted by the attractive draw of Windows 8? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

For the full list of compatible machines, click here.

REVIEW: Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended

5 Comments

Photoshop.jpgreview-line.JPGName: Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended

Type: Image editing software

Price: £667.20. Upgrade from earlier edition from £190.80. Subscription options also available.

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After a few years worth of so-so updates, Photoshop CS6 Extended sees Adobe really dig deep, adding new features, carefully refining old ones and making everything run far quicker to boot. Read on to find out what makes this the best version of Photoshop yet.

review-line.JPGPhotoshop is the creative industry's weapon of choice, and has been for some years. A powerful image editing suite, you'll see its fruits at work practically anywhere that an image has been touched up and arranged in a slick way, right down to the web narcissist's vanity shot, making bingo wings of the rich and famous everywhere vanish. It's been top of the pile for many a year now, but a series of lacklustre updates have left hardcore users crying out for more substantial improvements.

And Adobe have delivered what's probably the best version yet with Photoshop CS6 Extended. It's a mammoth piece of software with hundreds of features both new and old, and plenty of meaningful tweaks and improvements. Rather than re-tread old ground, this review will focus on the new core improvements made Photoshop.

New Interface

The most instantly striking thing about the latest version of Photoshop is its new interface. Opting for a darker tone (though you can also choose to use the classic lighter grey if you prefer), it puts tools and buttons to the background, making your actual image editing jump to the fore. That's not to say the buttons and toolbars themselves haven't been reworked. New icons are sensibly refined versions of the older ones, but what's most important is how much chaff has been cut away. There's no longer layer upon layer of windows and menu options to trawl through, with far more context sensitive stuff surrounding the cursor, making workflow quicker and more intuitive, and the whole Photoshop workspace more spatially economic and tidier to boot.

New Mercury Graphics Engine

In terms of speeding up your workflow, the importance of the new Adobe Mercury Graphics Engine can't be understated. Allowing Photoshop to harness your PC's GPU to its full extent, full hardware acceleration means that tasks that would once require timely processing cycles can now be whizzed through. Best of all, it means that you can see the adjustments made by tools like Liquify, Puppet Warp and Transform in real time. Though it's not directly linked to the Mercury engine, background auto-saving is an equally awesome time-saving addition. Backing-up your work in 5, 10, 15, 30 or 60 minute increments, you can rest safe in the knowledge that your work is secure, without being interrupted by a saving dialogue.

Content-Aware Patch Tool

Everything about Photoshop CS6 Extended seems designed to make an image editors life easier, and this is no better shown than with the Content-Aware Patch tool. Building upon the Content-Aware Scaling from CS4 and Content-Aware Fill from CS5, it allows you to make a selection in an image and move or extend them within a scene, patching in their original replacement near-seamlessly. It's success is largely down to the type of image being edited (you'll have better success with natural scenery with a smaller colour range than a busy industrial scene for instance), but when it works it feels a little bit like magic.

Other Tool Improvements - Paragraph, Character Style, Shapes, Crop

Across the board other legacy tools get significant improvements. The Paragraph and Character Style panels have always felt a little superfluous if you've got Illustrator running as well, but with the new ability to open up favourites and adjust them to make tiny variations, they're much more useful tools. Shapes layers are now true vector objects too, letting you play with strokes within or outside, as well as being able to stroke open paths and use dotted dashed or gradient filled strokes.

Most significantly improved however is the Crop tool. For starters, it's no longer irreversible, letting you go back as many crop steps as you like at any time. The Mercury engine also means that crop adjustments can flow in real time, scaling and zooming beautifully. Perspective cropping is a boon, letting you twist a subject slightly, while the rotate crop function also has a precision straighten tool that intelligently turns selections without strange distortions. Overlays like golden ratio, and the rule of thirds make it even easier to judge crop frames as well.

Adaptive Wide Angle Correction

If you shoot lots of stitched-panoramic shots, you'll be aware of how annoyingly distorted the results can seem. Again improving on an earlier feature (the so-so Lens Correction tool from CS5) Adaptive Wide Angle Correction lets you rework an image for a more natural look. Using a lens geometry database that taps into the photographs metadata, , you can pick out the straight lines in an image, such as the horizon or a wall, and have Photoshop shift the image based on your straight-line selection. With it, you can take even the most wacky of fish-eye lens shots and make it feel altogether more natural.

New Lens Blur Options

Lens Blur also benefits from the real-time previews that the Mercury engine allows for. Three types of effects can be tinkered with, from Iris Blur, Field Blur and Tilt-Shift. Again, cleverly intuitive, context-away HUD info means that you can quickly tweak all sorts of blur details, giving you dramatic control over specific elements of focus in each shot.

Better Camera RAW Imports

Adobe's RAW 7 import improvements are substantial. Using a new "tone-mapping algorithm", RAW files now pop in a far more satisfying way. Highlights and Shadows in particular look good enough to make you want to go back to older imports and re-touch them, with no noticeable halos. Defringing has been streamlined too; it's all carried out with a simple check-box option now. Localised noise reduction is also introduced.

Better Task Automation

If you're a fan of macros, Adobe have also improved the Actions function. You can now include brush movements and selection options as part of your automated tasks, and use a shortcut to see them all applied instantly.

Video Editing In Photoshop and Extended 3D Tools

Video editing can now be done within Photoshop, whether you opt for the standard or Extended editions. It's not a vastly comprehensive tool set, but the ability to apply all the regular Photoshop filters and effects to moving images, as well as animated layers, can lead to some nifty results. Some will see this as a needless feature, but those that don't often do much video editing and don't want to bloat out their computer with rarely used stand-alone video software (or those that are simply more comfortable within the Photoshop application) will appreciate it.

Grab the Extended edition and you'll get the 3D Layer toolset too, which feature far more intuitive HUD controls. Every parameter you can think of, from twists to shadows, bevels to vanishing point filters, can be tinkered with. You can easily insert 3D objects into an image, and making them meld seamlessly into a pre-existing image is a piece of cake.

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There's a hell of a lot that's gone into this latest build of Photoshop, and all of it is welcome. Speedier processing and a more intuitive interface means even the most complex of jobs can be turned around more quickly than ever. When it works, the Content-Aware Patch tool is a magical addition, and new lens blur options are powerful too. It's definitely the most significant update the program has seen in quite some time, and a worthy upgrade for all users.

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5/5
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adobe-creative-cloud.jpgAdobe have rolled out today the Adobe Creative Cloud, a supplementary service to use alongside CS6.

Working on a monthly subscription basis, it gives online access to CS6 install files, HTML5 apps like Adobe Muse 1.0 for code-free webpage building, Adobe Edge preview for animated and interactive content, integration with Adobe Touch apps for Android and iOS as well as 20GB of web-based storage for easily sharing and saving your creative projects.

"We announced Creative Cloud and CS6 two weeks ago and these releases have caught the imagination of creatives everywhere," said David Wadhwani, senior vice president, Digital Media Business, Adobe.

"Today we're shipping CS6 and look forward to the beginning of an exciting new era as we introduce Creative Cloud later this week."

Adobe Creative Cloud membership is available from today in 36 countries. Membership costs individuals £38.11 (ex VAT) per month based on an annual membership and £57.17 (ex VAT) per month for month-to-month membership. A special introductory offer of £22.23 (ex VAT) per month for customers already using the older CS3, CS4, CS5 and CS5.5 packages is also available.

For more info, click here.

send-to-kindle-mac.jpgAmazon have released a Mac version of their incredibly useful Send to Kindle application.

The application allows Mac users to send document and eBook files directly to Amazon's Kindle eReader, without needing to hook them up to your computer over a cabled connection. You simply need drag the file you want to transfer onto the icon in the Mac dock.

The documents are then sent into the cloud and archived, ready to be downloaded via Wi-Fi or over select Kindle's 3G connections.

If you're using a 3G-enabled Kindle and are looking to send larger files without incurring digital delivery costs from Amazon, it's best to set up the application with the "free.kindle" email address associated with your eReader.

To use Send to Kindle for Macs you'll need to be running OS X Snow Leopard (v10.6) or Mac OS X Lion (v10.7). You can grab the app by clicking here.

PC users can also use the application, which has been available on Windows since January.

sony-playmemories.jpgHot on the heels of the Google Drive launch come's Sony's own cloud storage offering, Play Memories.

A slightly different proposition, Play Memories is solely for the cloud-based storage of photos and videos, and doesn't support documents or other file types. However, unlike the other rival services, photos and videos won't only be accessible through desktop, tablet and smartphone applications, but also via the Sony PlayStation 3 console, whose rich media playback capabilities make it a perfect match for video and photo content.

Sony are also looking to roll the service out to their Bravia TVs and S-Frame digital photo frames, with an aim to have the service hit these other platforms by the summer.

Like Google Drive, Play Memories offers 5GB worth of free storage space; 3GB more than Dropbox, and 2GB less than Microsoft's SkyDrive.

You can grab the PlayMemories Online app now for free on both Android and iOS devices.

google-drive-official-cloud-service-0.jpgGoogle have officially lifted the covers off Google Drive, their cloud storage alternative to Dropbox.

Available as a PC and Mac desktop app, and an Android mobile app on smartphones running version 2.1 and upwards of Google's operating system, the service allows users to share up to 5GB worth of data and files across devices, on the go. As the service is cloud-based through the web, all transfers are done seamlessly, wirelessly, meaning updating files on one device automatically sees the most up-to-date version transferred to over Google Drive-using devices too.

Using a drag-and-drop grid interface on the desktop, files can also be transferred between colleagues and friends once a "Share With Me" folder has been created. If more storage than the initial free 5GB is needed, it can be purchased through the service.

If it all sounds familiar, that's because it is. Dropbox works on almost identical principles, though Google may muscle in and grab newcomers to cloud storage by offering 5GB free whereas Dropbox only offers 2GB initially.

Scroll down for some videos direct from Google describing the service:

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