Adobe has released a Beta version of Photoshop CS6 which is available to download for free from Adobe Labs.

The firm said that CS6 Beta is a preview of what's to come in the ' industry standard' digital imaging software. The software is available for Mac OS X and Windows with full release expected in the first half of 2012. See also: Photoshop CS6 review.

Winston Hendrickson, vice president of products at Adobe said: "Photoshop CS6 will be a milestone release that pushes the boundaries of imaging innovation with incredible speed and performance. We couldn’t wait to share this beta of Photoshop CS6 with our customers and are looking forward to hearing from them and seeing the ways they are incorporating the beta into their daily creative workflows."

Key features include updates to the Content-Aware tools such as Content-Aware Patch and Content-Aware Move. The former allows users to select and duplicate an area of an image to fill in or patch another and the latter lets an object be selected and 'magically' moved to a new place in within the image.

Another addition is the Adobe Mercury Graphics Engine which enables quicker use of editing tools including Liquify, Puppet Warp, Transform and Lighting Effects. Adobe said: "Vector layers allow users to apply dashed lines and gradient strokes, searchable layers quickly zero in on any layer, and new type styles let designers swiftly apply type treatments to their designs."