Demoing Voice Live at Adobe MAX 2018

For the record, here is the entire keynote address from last week’s Adobe MAX 2018 conference in Los Angeles. Jump to about forty minutes in and you’ll see the demo that I gave of what’s new in Adobe XD.

In a post last week I went into some detail about the groundbreaking new voice design and prototyping features included in the latest release, but this demo also shows a slew of additional major improvements: seamless import of Photoshop files (also works with Illustrator files); linked symbols now working between documents; a painless new approach to responsive design that we call “responsive resize;” two plugins from XD’s brand new plugins ecosystem (which already features dozens of third-party developers); a whole new approach to effortlessly creating microinteractions called “auto-animate;” and the aforementioned voice features. (That’s just the design segment of the keynote; there are tons of other products announcements if you watch the whole thing.)

As an added bonus I also showed a preview of a voice feature coming next year: the ability to run your XD prototypes directly on an Amazon Echo Show. For both that segment and the earlier part of the demo where I show voice interactions for the first time, you might notice a sincere moment of genuine relief when the features actually work as expected. In truth I was less intimidated by the nearly 12,000 attendees in the hall watching my demo than I was by the relatively unknown quantity of demonstrating voice on stage. The medium is so young still and so there’s no great playbook for how to handle a technical malfunction. You also don’t get a lot of cues as to what might be going on when voice fails—did the system fail to understand what I said, or did it fail to produce a response? It’s hard to tell, and really frightening to demo.

This is the new reality though—before too long voice is going to be a common feature of most product demos. More than that, voice is going to change the world around us. I was speaking to an architect recently who talked about how designs for new workplaces are already starting to anticipate a future where we’ll all be speaking to our computers. Immersive media is going to bring about new norms in how we think about our physical world. There’s a certain inevitability to it, and that’s why it’s so important that designers start working with this stuff now, when the rules are being written for the first time.