Adobe unveils ambitious multi-year vision for PDF: Introduces Liquid Mode

Liquid mode preview on mobile devices.

By Ashley Still

Posted on 09-23-2020

Digital experiences have never been more critical — cutting across all industries and impacting daily work and personal lives. And this has never been more apparent than the demand we’re seeing for our Document Cloud products and services, which have skyrocketed. Adobe Sign usage has risen more than 200 percent, and Acrobat DC monthly active users have more than doubled in 2020, reflecting the growing role PDF plays across all segments of the economy. In fact, we estimate that there are more than 2.5 trillion PDFs in the world today.

Building on this continued momentum, today we’re excited to unveil Liquid Mode — the first step in a multi-year vision to fundamentally change the way people consume digital documents, and how organizations extract document intelligence to gain a competitive advantage. Leveraging the power of Adobe Sensei — our cutting-edge AI framework — to understand the structure of PDFs, we have begun to reimagine how people read and interact with digital documents, starting with reinventing mobile productivity beyond the 8.5x11 page.

Introducing Liquid Mode

Manifesting the future of PDF, Liquid Mode delivers a breakthrough reading experience that enables a much easier way to read documents on mobile. Consuming content on mobile has long been a painful experience — especially if a document is long and wordy. In fact, new Adobe research shows that 65 percent of Americans find it frustrating; 45 percent stopped reading or didn’t even try; and 72 percent say they would work on their mobile device more if it were easier to read documents.

For that reason, we’re debuting Liquid Mode first in the free Adobe Acrobat Reader mobile app for iOS and Android, including Google Play Store-compatible Chromebooks, then bringing it to desktops and browsers.

With the push of a button, Liquid Mode automatically reformats text, images, and tables for quick navigation and consumption on small screens. Powered by Adobe Sensei, Liquid Mode uses AI and machine learning in the background to understand and identify parts of a PDF, like headings, paragraphs, images, lists, tables, and more. It also attempts to understand the hierarchy and ordering of those parts to reformat a static PDF into a more dynamic and customizable experience.

Liquid Mode simultaneously creates an intelligent outline, collapsible and expandable sections, and searchable text for quick navigation. Users can even tailor font size and spacing between words, characters, and lines to suit their specific reading preferences. This is especially useful for those who may see text as too small, squished together, tight, or jumbled. With Liquid Mode, pinching and zooming is no longer necessary. Words are resizable and reflowable, images are tappable and expandable, and tables are responsive.

We’ve gone to great lengths to be thoughtful and methodical in addressing the most common reading pain-points, but it is still early days for the technology behind Liquid Mode. Like all machine learning, the more documents pass through Liquid Mode, the more knowledge it will gain to expand its functionality and improve its reliability.

Adobe Document Cloud

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The future of PDF

As we build future PDF experiences, our long-term vision is centered around bringing more Adobe Sensei technology into all of our document products and services. Imagine using AI to replace months of intensive document research with a quick query that cross-references millions of PDFs in your organization at once. Or, uncovering groundbreaking medical insights from PDF data spread across millions of scientific research reports, medical records, or academic studies. Unleashing this technology to state and local governments could also significantly improve document accessibility and collaboration across disparate agencies.

Digital literacy has always been a significant priority for Adobe. Through Liquid Mode, we are exploring text personalization initiatives with partners and educational institutions to unlock the secrets of reading and retention for people of all ages and abilities. Giving people tools to view and extract content from PDFs, without changing the PDF itself, will help everyone gain more insight and power from the trillions of PDFs housed in enterprise storage systems, PCs, mobile devices, and on the web.

Delivering exceptional digital experiences is our mission, and we’ve been working in service of our customers to do just that for more than three decades. From the introduction of PDF in the early 1990s, to unleashing it as an open standard in 2008, to the debut of Liquid Mode today, we continue to define how the world works with digital documents, both personally and professionally.

Today is the beginning of an exciting new frontier where we will fundamentally change the PDF experience — again and forever.

Topics: Future of Work, Document Cloud, News,

Products: Document Cloud, Acrobat, Adobe Sensei,