Shilpi Aggarwal Discusses Adobe's Award-Winning Acrobat Reader
Sr. Marketing Manager, Developer Relations
Jeanne Hsu, Senior Marketing Manager for Developer Relations at Samsung, chatted with Shilpi Aggarwal, Senior Engineering Manager in Document Cloud. She has been at Adobe for 15 years, working on Portable Document Format (PDF) technologies at all levels of the stack, with a deep interest in creating seamless customer experiences.
Jeanne Hsu (JH): Shilpi, what is your role at Adobe?
Shilpi Aggarwal (SA): I deliver products that power PDF creation and consumption across mobile form factors. I manage the Adobe Acrobat app on the Android platform and provide best-in-class PDF experiences to millions of users every day.
JH: What was your professional journey that led you to Adobe?
SA: At university I used Adobe Photoshop and Acrobat Reader on a daily basis, so I was familiar with the software. I joined Adobe fresh out of college and immediately loved the culture. I am a true believer in Adobe values, so I’ve stayed with Adobe since the beginning of my career.
JH: That’s a long time to be at one company. I noticed Adobe’s core values are being genuine, exceptional, innovative, and involved. Which values resonate the most for you?
SA: Being genuine and getting involved. It feels so easy to be myself here. Adobe also values diversity and inclusion; everyone is equally valued. People have the freedom to speak out in meetings and can reach out to any executive. I treasure that.
JH: How did COVID-19 impact the team?
SA: When the pandemic hit, Adobe held a virtual All Hands meeting and asked how people were doing and if there was anything they needed. I said I needed an oxygen cylinder for someone in India. An EVP on the call messaged me 1:1 and said he had access to one. I was impressed that he would reach out to help like that. This level of support and engagement from leadership in the hour of need is what I value the most.
JH: How did the relationship with Samsung first start?
SA: Our Samsung and Adobe Document Cloud partnership started in 2018 with the debut of Adobe Scan on the Galaxy Note9. Bixby Vision was enabled to work seamlessly with Adobe Scan, giving customers the ability to get more done on the go.
In 2020, we expanded our partnership with the launch of the Adobe Acrobat mobile app in the Galaxy Store. Galaxy Store users could download and subscribe to Adobe Acrobat mobile, which included capabilities to edit text and images, export to and from PDF, more advanced features to create PDFs, combine and organize PDFs, and more.
Adobe Acrobat Reader mobile app — Best Made for Samsung App Award
JH: Congrats on winning the 2021 Best of Galaxy Store Award — Best Made for Samsung App — for Adobe Acrobat Reader. What does it mean to win this award?
SA: I am delighted and proud. Our team was really happy to hear the news, and we had a small virtual party afterward. With the Acrobat Reader mobile app, our mission has always been to fundamentally change the way people consume and modify digital documents, and to become the first choice for PDF productivity for mobile-first users. I feel humbled by the chance to empower millions who use our app every day. I am grateful to our customers and to our amazing partners at Samsung for recognizing us.
JH: What makes your app unique?
SA: People regularly work with documents on the go, and the PDF file format makes it easy to view most documents on a mobile device with formatting intact. With the Acrobat mobile app, you can view PDFs for quick document reviews and edits, easy form filling and signing, and much more. It’s different from other mobile PDF solutions because it offers an end-to-end workflow for creating, editing, signing, reviewing, and storing PDFs across devices.
Acrobat was built for mobile, so you can read documents without pinching and zooming. You can organize paper documents digitally with mobile-first features like Liquid Mode and Scan.
And let’s not forget that Adobe invented the PDF format and continues to innovate every day for the millions of people around the world who use the Acrobat mobile app.
JH: I heard about another intriguing feature for Adobe Acrobat Reader called Read Out Loud. Tell us more about that.
SA: Yes, it’s part of our Mobile First strategy. Read Out Loud is a Text-to-Speech (TTS) tool that reads text contained in PDF documents. It’s important for accessibility for all.
JH: What else differentiates the Adobe PDF experience for mobile users?
SA: Liquid Mode senses your mobile device’s screen size and adjusts accordingly. You can change text size and spacing for better readability. You can also search text and expand images and charts. Last year it was our most talked-about feature, with great reviews. Users also like the form-filling experience and the ability to add signatures on forms.
JH: I’m a big fan too. I love the form-filling and signature capabilities. It’s far better than the alternative of printing it out, filling it out manually, signing it, and then taking a picture to upload. It’s a real game changer.
Feedback and Discoverability
JH: What kind of feedback have you received from users?
SA: We have over 90 million active users a month. They give us lots of feedback, and we take that feedback very seriously. Every month we go over online reviews, dedicated Adobe forums, and support email lists.
Because we value customer feedback in our product development process, we’re consistently able to deliver a product customers enjoy. Here are some comments from our users:
- App is great, super easy to use and really easy to learn how to use without much of a learning curve, kind of just explains itself as it goes along, a very intuitive app, almost seems as if it's learning you as you learn it, making it extremely functional for even the most novice of users.
- Adobe Acrobat mobile is a reliable tool and extremely useful for editing documents efficiently and has a sleek design. I do not know about many others, but I know Adobe has always been convenient and easy to use and the editor is such a remarkably helpful tool.
- I love this! You can sign papers that are sent to you via text, email, and postal mail on your phone and send them back to those who need signed paperwork. It takes two minutes to sign papers and send them back...
JH: With all the competition for apps, what has been your strategy for discoverability?
SA: We optimize our content on app store pages to make sure people can easily discover the apps’ benefits. We also run campaigns to new potential customers and existing users who have other Adobe products but not Acrobat mobile. For example, we send campaigns to existing Adobe customers to let them know they can download the Acrobat mobile app to view and work with documents on their mobile devices.
Advice and the Future
JH: What advice would you give developers looking to bring their app to Galaxy Store?
SA: I would say to design the app with scale in mind. Whatever changes we make should be architected to scale to other Adobe apps going forward. For example, billing was a key component for our partnership with the Samsung Galaxy Store. We modularized it so it could be plug-and-play. Other Adobe groups have asked to use the billing component for their products with Samsung.
The Samsung partnership helped us think in this way. We can scale our app with other stores without major code rewrites. This led us to think about how to scale for multiple stores, best practices, and notification support. With a more expansive mindset, we decoupled components and came up with a design to create different flavors of the app with the same code. A modular design provides a foundation to build out for other platforms.
JH: What other advice would you give for developers in general?
SA: Keep learning, no matter what your role is in the business. My path was individual contributor to team lead to manager to senior management. Never stop learning. Set aside time to refresh your skills and keep yourself up to date.
JH: Do you have plans to make your app compatible with foldable devices?
SA: Yes. We’ve done a lot of work on foldables, including the Samsung Z Fold and Z Flip devices. We’re doing rigorous testing to ensure compatibility.
JH: What’s next on the horizon for your team?
SA: There are more than four billion smartphones today, and they are increasing in emerging markets. While digital documents are ubiquitous in developed countries, we will continue to innovate our products and work with mobile app store partners like Samsung so we can expand the value we deliver to customers worldwide.
JH: Where can we find Adobe Acrobat mobile on Galaxy Store?
JH: What are some of the ways you promote Adobe Acrobat mobile?
SA: Here are our websites and channels:
Diversity and Inclusion
JH: What is Adobe doing related to diversity and inclusion?
SA: We have several programs that foster diversity and inclusion. Adobe for All is a program in which Adobe employees with diverse backgrounds share their stories and inspire others. In WESP (Women Employee Shadow Program), women shadow execs, and the execs mentor them for three months.
Our team has a healthy balance of men and women. During the pandemic, we found working remotely and hiring remotely has helped us increase our pool of applicants. We’re excited to see more people from different geos and diverse cultures applying.
JH: What do you do for fun outside of work?
SA: I’m into freestyle dancing; it gives me a lot of peace and calm. I’ve done aerobics. Also, I’ve performed Bollywood style and competed in multiple team events, winning twice. I performed with a group of dancers at an Adobe talent show, which was fun. I also spend time with my seven-year-old son; he’s in that phase of doing lots of cute and naughty things, which keeps me engaged.
JH: It’s been great talking to you Shilpi. Thanks for this interview.
SA: You’re welcome.
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