Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Adobe Update Actually Makes PDFs Readable on Your Phone

Illustration for article titled Adobe Update Actually Makes PDFs Readable on Your Phone
Screenshot: Gizmodo

Adobe has been hyping its Sensei AI for a while now, and it finally has a use case for the tech that might make the average user’s life a little easier. The Adobe Reader app now uses machine learning to reformat PDFs in a way that makes them actually readable on mobile devices.

Advertisement

The new Liquid Mode in Adobe Reader uploads your document to Adobe’s cloud service where it’s processed by Sensei to identify items like headers, images, and text blocks. The document is then delivered back to your device with a new mobile-friendly layout. Huge blocks of tiny text that run off the screen are automatically placed in line and given proper paragraph spacing, images fit neatly and take the rest of the document into account, and it can even make some sections collapsible. Essentially, it’s giving PDFs the kind of responsive design we expect from modern webpages.

Liquid Mode is unfortunately limited to Adobe’s Reader software for Android and iOS right now. So, if you’re attached to a third-party PDF app, you’re out of luck. That, of course, pushes people to Adobe’s own product, but in an interview with Fast Company, reps for the firm insisted that the primary motivation behind the feature was to find a solution to the problem that PDFs just aren’t as useful on mobile and people close these documents the minute they see what they’re getting into. Devs at Adobe went as far as exploring a new format altogether but decided that the ubiquity and compatibility of PDFs made them worth adapting.

Advertisement

There’s still work to be done on Liquid Mode. It needs support for forms, slideshows, scans, and files that are over 10 MB or 200 pages. Another upcoming feature is the ability to reformat docs in Liquid Mode on the desktop app for sharing with others. The company also told Fast Company that it might offer some premium features to paying customers on its Document Cloud service. Womp womp.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

If only there was a more mobile-friendly format that you could use instead of PDFs—<cough>EPUB3</cough>—that had even more benefits like dynamic font sizes, reflowable content, embedded media, interactive elements, etc.