Adobe launches AI Assistant for Acrobat

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Adobe Inc. is embedding an artificial intelligence chatbot into Acrobat, its ubiquitous PDF creation and editing application.

The company released the chatbot today as part of an update for Acrobat’s paid tiers. It’s the fruit of a broader initiative on Adobe’s part to integrate generative AI features into its software portfolio. The effort has so far focused mainly on the company’s Creative Cloud suite, which includes Photoshop and its other graphic design programs.

Acrobat users now have access to a new “AI Assistant” button on the upper right corner of the interface. Clicking it brings up a ChatGPT-like chatbot that can summarize the document the user has open, as well as answer specific questions about its contents. After replying to an inquiry, the assistant suggests a set of followup questions for diving deeper into the topic at hand.

Adobe configured the underlying algorithms to include clickable citations beneath each response. According to the company, they’re designed to help users check that the assistant’s replies are accurate. Clicking a citation brings up the specific section of a PDF document from which the relevant snippet of information was sourced.

Users can customize AI Assistant’s output based on what type of project they’re working on. If a worker specifies that the outputted text will be used in an email, the chatbot will add a subject line. For slideshows, AI Assistant can organize the text it generates into brief bullet point collections and add an introduction.

Adobe plans to expand the chatbot’s capabilities significantly with future releases. According to the company, AI Assistant will eventually be capable of not only generating text but also designing document layouts. The latter capability will be powered by a planned integration with Firefly, the set of generative AI image editing features Adobe introduced for its Creative Cloud last March.

Firefly is available in Photoshop and several of the company’s other creative applications. It allows users to generate images using natural language prompts. Firefly also lends itself to more fine-grained tasks such as repositioning objects in an existing image, changing their style and removing unnecessary sections.

Adobe plans to enhance AI Assistant’s core text generation features as well. According to the company, a future update will equip the chatbot with the ability to generate first drafts and edit existing copy by modifying its tone or shortening it. Meanwhile, an AI-powered collaboration feature will use the comments that a user’s colleagues add to a document to suggest improvements.

“Acrobat is the de facto standard for the world’s most important documents and the capabilities introduced today are just the beginning of the new value Adobe intends to deliver through AI Assistant,” said Abhigyan Modi, senior vice president of Adobe’s Document Cloud business.

The update will position Acrobat as a more direct competitor to Microsoft Corp.’s Word, which likewise offers AI features via an embedded chatbot called Copilot. The latter tool doesn’t yet offer document design features like those Acrobat’s AI Assistant is set to receive via the Firefly integration. Adobe’s planned update could prompt Microsoft, which has access to cutting-edge image generation models through its partnership with OpenAI, to introduce similar graphic design features.

AI Assistant is currently available in beta for the Standard and Pro versions of Acrobat. The former tier is available for $13 per month and offers a broader set of document editing features than the free version. The Pro edition, in turn, costs $20 per month and includes all the capabilities of the Standard tier plus an electronic signature tool.

AI Assistant will also roll out to the free Reader version of Acrobat in a few weeks. Once the chatbot exits beta testing, it will be available through an addon subscription plan.

Acrobat is part of Adobe’s Document Cloud product portfolio, which accounted for $721 million of the $5.05 billion in revenue the company generated last quarter. The product portfolio already includes a number of AI capabilities. In 2021, Adobe added a machine learning service called PDF Extract API that can automatically extract the text in a document and load it into an external system such as a database or an AI training tool.

Image: Adobe

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