Adobe’s Acrobat AI isn’t ignoring PDFs, while Asus writes a new chapter for PCs - Hindustan Times
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Adobe’s Acrobat AI isn’t ignoring PDFs, while Asus writes a new chapter for PCs

Apr 18, 2024 10:41 PM IST

Their generative AI, called Acrobat AI Assistant, is now being integrated within the Acrobat Reader platform…

Not a single task in the workflow should remain neglected, should it? Generative AI is everywhere, and now is the time for complete assistance coverage with our documents. There is Microsoft’s Copilot for Microsoft 365 that does its bit to summarise documents within popular apps such as Word. Google’s Gemini integration for Workplace has a similar set of tools too. Now, tech giant Adobe is eyeing those 3 trillion PDFs already floating around the world, and more being added every day. Many of which, reside in those (cluttered) folders on your desktop. Their generative AI, called Acrobat AI Assistant, is now being integrated within the Acrobat Reader platform, on the desktop apps as well as the web version via extensions for the Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge web browsers.

Representational Image
Representational Image

In case you are getting slightly confused between the Acrobat Reader and Adobe Acrobat, the former is a free and standalone tool to view and manage PDF files, while the Acrobat suite includes more advanced functionality such as editing a PDF, digital signatures and for filling forms. Mind you, while Acrobat Reader remains a free app to use, adding Acrobat AI Assistant will mean you must add-on a subscription that costs $4.99 (or around 416) onwards per month, including for Acrobat too. Value is subjective, and this feature set may help you decide.

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There’s an assistant to chat within PDFs, the idea being to draw out information points from the document. It’ll include citations too, pointing to the source of answers. Generative summaries, as the name suggests, curates a glanceable brief of the document. There’s also the ability to create summaries of the information to share in an email or a report in specific formats.

As if always the case with any AI announcement, I often seek out the data security and privacy details. Adobe makes it a point to talk about their commitment to AI Ethics, the same guardrails placed around Acrobat AI Assistant, as it is around Adobe’s other incredibly popular AI tools including the Firefly generative AI. “Adobe prohibits third-party LLMs from training on Adobe customer data” is one of those points.

EVOLVE

The Spacetop by Sightful is a screen-less laptop that comes with an AR headset instead. The company is pitching it as a “100-inch screen in your backpack”.
The Spacetop by Sightful is a screen-less laptop that comes with an AR headset instead. The company is pitching it as a “100-inch screen in your backpack”.

I had seen the future. If you remember my piece from a few months ago (Read the Premium article), new age PCs was the topic and dual-screen laptops. I had said then, two screens in a laptop is an “approach could be particularly useful in fields such as art, design, architecture and filmmaking.” I can happily join that list, albeit in a completely different profession. It is just the sheer utility of having more than one display at your viewing disposal, which can simplify a lot of workflows. We all juggle multiple apps and windows, don’t we? While Asus is clearly being very on-point with their launches in India since the turn of the year, the 2024 edition of the Zenbook Duo is perhaps the slickest showcase of what they can do.

Read: Asus Zenbook Duo review: Two screens, a logical progression for Windows laptops

It is quite clear that dual-screen laptops will not go the way of 3D TVs. There is convenience that’s coming through, particularly as Asus have thought out the two-screen layout. I found it rather convenient as a conventional laptop, and while it takes a few seconds to transform (a gentle tug at the keyboard to detach it), multiple options await. The second screen that’s beneath where the keyboard otherwise is, can become a real estate for more app windows, or a full or half sized touch keyboard. With an integrated kickstand, both orientations are an option. Though I’m not much of a fan of the less conventional method.

Quite impressive is the pricing. At least the entry price point (that’s 1,59,990), which is a well thought out strategy to get you interested. To get you to walk into a store. You will eventually decide to spend that little (that’s subjective) more and get a proper spec variant instead, for longevity. It is a method that carmakers have used quite successfully to get people into showrooms. Why not PC makers. You will find a bit of a compromise on battery stamina, particularly with both screens in use. And it isn’t exactly the slimmest laptop in the truest sense. That said, in terms of performance, there is very little to be critical about. Except perhaps the slight heating that’s quite prominent on the underside.

We finally have an evolution for portable computing devices, one that is based purely on Asus’ efforts of refinement and utility. No thanks to Microsoft for that, as yet.

Whose loss is it anyway?
We have heard this before, and therefore, I’d recommend subdued excitement. Spotify may finally unlock lossless audio streaming. But haven’t we heard that, time and again, for years now? Apparently, plans for Spotify HiFi have been replaced by another broader subscription add-on, and if online chatter is to be believed, some additional headphone optimisations as well. Quite how much this subscription add-on costs, or if at all it finally emerges, remains anyone’s guess. I won’t suggest holding your breath, the Spotify HiFi promises have lingered without result for quite a few years now. So much so, all my listening is now on Apple Music, because of Lossless Audio.

TIME

Often, are those moments where we must contemplate our interactions with the technology around us. And reach an inevitable conclusion that the way things are, isn’t good for our health, well-being and the fine art of focus. Beyond that, there isn’t much change in how we use technology, how it captivates us or our (much needed, but missing) pushback. Except, we keep renewing these assessments periodically. Think about it. Have you really done anything to control your screen time every day? The number of apps that captivate your attention, all waking hours. Are you actually doing something productive with that much screen time, and how much of that is mindless scrolling? As I pointed out in my Tech Tonic column this week, most of our problems with overwhelming tech stem from something we have absolutely, collectively failed at controlling. The barrage of notifications.

Re (Premium): Tech Tonic | The notifications on our phones are an overwhelming mess

It must be said, I have tremendous respect for Vivo, the smartphone company. Specifically referencing their annual attempts (their phone cameras are amazing too) with the “Vivo Switch Off Study” (I’d urge you to glance through), to tell us how wrong we are in balancing time spent tapping on the glass pane in your hand, compared with the humans around you. For adults, the imbalance likely cancels out, but children are the most impacted (unless they begin to find companionship in a screen, which is another problem). In fact, Vivo’s latest report for 2023 tells us a rather damning stat – 90% of parents spend less quality time with their children when possible, and most parents are spending as much as 7.7 hours an average every day, tapping away on their phones. This will not end well. The ping of an incoming message or email or social media notification, one thing leads to the other, and before you realise it, an hour and a half has simply flown by.

I have a three-point plan to suggest. In case you are willing to make a hopefully positive change in your life, and improve the quality of interactions with people around you.

1) Tame those apps, particularly those unnecessary ones. To be fair, the likes of Amazon, Zomato, Blinkit and Myntra (just some examples) don’t need to be sending any other notifications except order tracking updates. Most certainly not, hourly notifications about exciting deals, how an exciting cricket match means you should order a new AC and a nice meal, and a regular illustration of the benefits of retail therapy. X should be limited to replies to your posts, and not some jamboree spaces on the platform. For every app you install or update, don’t do a blanket “yes” or “accept” for notifications – there are specific notification type controls in each app (settings, usually), and you must select carefully.

2) Remove the clutter. The apps you don’t need, which are still sitting around in your phone, tablet or computing device and calling out to you – just delete. If it saves you even one notification ‘ping’ a day, that’s one less time you’ve looked at your phone. It all matters. The other advantage, you’ll begin to realise, streamlined apps make you more productive.

3) Last but not least, is enlisting the help of technology to counter technology. And that is where I must talk about another tech company I watch with great awe, for what they’re trying to achieve, completely against the ecosystem’s current. Truecaller, just a few days ago, added to their list to tools with something called Truecaller Web. Think of this as WhatsApp Web, paired with your phone, but for incoming call identification, message sorting and Truecaller Chats. By knowing the Live Caller ID and being able to read incoming messages (with spam separated) on your PC, there’s less of an urge to tap on the phone screen again and again. And therefore, you’ll also not get distracted by Myntra, Amazon, Flipkart and X, waiting to get your attention.

The decision is yours. Over to you, now.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Vishal Mathur is Technology Editor for Hindustan Times. When not making sense of technology, he often searches for an elusive analog space in a digital world.

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