Adobe’s monopoly on desktop creativity isn’t going anywhere — that’s why the next big Creative Cloud update goes all-in on mobile.

Today, Adobe launched the second major update to its Creative Cloud suite of apps and services, introducing five new iOS apps, four updated mobile apps, and 13 updated desktop apps tweaked to support Adobe’s growing mobile focus. Adobe is also raising the curtain today on its Creative SDK, a service that enables third-party developers to tap into Adobe’s online storage service and Aviary-powered photo-editing tools.

Adobe’s cloud services, despite the “Creative Cloud” name, aren’t yet full-fledged products; instead, they serve as glue to connect Adobe’s sturdy desktop suite to an incredibly large (almost too large to keep track of) collection of mobile apps. First, let’s dive into what’s new — then we’ll examine what it means for the company.

5 new mobile apps, 4 updated ones

Adobe says it’s debuting “nine new mobile apps” with this release, but of those nine, four are merely updates and two apps were rebranded.

Starting with what’s new, Adobe today unveiled Adobe Premiere Clip for iOS, an app for editing videos on mobile; Adobe Brush CC for iOS, a mobile app for creating custom brushes; and Adobe Shape CC for iOS, an app that lets you “capture and create shapes on iPhone or iPad.”

Adobe Premiere Clip

Above: Adobe Premiere Clip

Among the updates, Adobe’s Photoshop Mix now runs on iPhone, Photoshop Sketch makes it easier to share sketches with Photoshop CC and includes “new built-in expressive brushes,” Lightroom Mobile now supports comments on photos shared online, and Illustrator Line gets the “ability to send sketches to Illustrator CC.”

As for the rebrands, Adobe Ideas is now “Illustrator Draw,” and Adobe Kuler is now “Adobe Color CC.”

Adobe Color CC

Above: Adobe Color CC

13 updated desktop apps

Today, even Adobe’s latest desktop updates are mobile-centric. But Adobe’s goal isn’t to eclipse or ignore its desktop monopoly. In fact, all of Adobe’s mobile services feed back to the desktop. Ideally, the new mobile apps will drive “value” everywhere (if you can excuse the corporate turn of phrase) — whether or not that happens depends on how satisfied creatives already are with their existing workflows.

“Through a member’s Creative Profile,” Adobe says in its official release, “Adobe is driving frictionless creative workflows, with CC desktop tools able to access powerful new mobile apps and services.”

Although all of Adobe’s desktop apps were updated today to tie into the Creative Profile feature, we’ll highlight only the most important additional updates here. According to Adobe:

Touch support on Windows 8 devices for key design applications; new 3D print features and enhanced Mercury Graphics Engine performance for Photoshop CC; a new Curvature tool in Illustrator CC; interactive EPUB support in InDesign CC; SVG and Synchronized Text support in Muse CC; GPU-optimized playback for viewing high resolution 4K and UltraHD footage in Premiere Pro CC; and HiDPI and new 3D support in After Effects CC.

The free ‘Creative SDK’

Rounding out Adobe’s major updates today, the company launched its new Creative SDK in public beta, which Adobe claims “embeds the power of Creative Cloud” into third-party apps. The SDK enables third-party app developers to link their apps to Adobe’s online storage services and also integrate photo-editing services powered by Adobe’s acquisition of Aviary.

Creative SDK-featured_apps_poster

Why mobile?

Although Adobe’s stronghold on creativity is technically the lifeblood of the company, it’s proved somewhat toxic — how can a company grow in an industry where cross-platform competitors hardly exist? Even Apple, once a formidable competitor on desktop with Final Cut Pro and Aperture, is practically bowing out of the pro and prosumer creative tools game.

Only earlier this year did Adobe’s cloud services mature into a something useful. And although Adobe is clearly experimenting with interesting, standalone cloud services, like Photoshop for Chromebooks, Adobe’s cloud is merely glue for creatives — or perhaps more kindly, a bridge — enabling Adobe to chart new territory and potentially drum up interest in prosumer mobile apps.

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