Adobe announces biggest change to the PDF 'in a generation'

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Adobe has set-out a new multi-year vision for the future of the PDF, as well as a new feature it describes as the “biggest change in a generation”.

The new AI-powered Liquid Mode, built into Adobe Acrobat, is designed to make navigating and reading PDF documents easier than ever before - especially on smaller screens.

Activating the new mode resizes and reformats static PDFs to better fit the user’s screen, making the reading experience much more similar to using a web browser. In other words, there’s no more scrolling left and right to follow the line of text, nor zooming in and out to make the text legible on screen.

The new feature debuts in Adobe Acrobat Reader for iOS and Android (plus Play Store-compatible Chromebooks) and will land on desktops, laptops and browsers at a later date.

Adobe Acrobat

The company’s new Liquid Mode is powered by Adobe Sensei, which harnesses AI and machine learning to analyze a static PDF, identify key elements and reformat the document to make it more easily digestible.

“Liquid Mode simultaneously creates an intelligent outline, collapsible and expandable sections, and searchable text for quick navigation. Users can ever tailor font size and spacing between words, characters, and lines to suit their specific reading preferences,” wrote Ashley Still, SVP and General Manager of Digital Media at Adobe.

“With Liquid Mode, pinching and zooming is no longer necessary. Words are resizable and reflowable, images are tappable and expandable and tables are responsive.”

Adobe is, however, keen to note that the technology is still in its nascent stages and will improve in time with use. As more data is collected and fed into Adobe Sensei, reliability will improve and functionality expand, the firm claims.

Beyond Liquid Mode, Adobe also set out a new multi-year roadmap for the PDF, centered around the concept of making its document products and services more intelligent using AI.

The firm wants to accelerate document research by using AI to cross-referencing millions of PDFs at once, improve collaboration across departments and tackle societal issues such as digital literacy.

“Today is the beginning of an exciting new frontier where we will fundamentally change the PDF experience - again and forever,” concluded Still.

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.