New features in Illustrator CS6 include the following:
New efficient, flexible interface
The CS6 UI has been rebuilt from the ground up and as a result there are a lot of user interface enhancements. For starters you can now set the UI brightness settings making Illustrator easier on the eye. Additionally you now have the ability to edit layer names in the layers panel and this can be done for all content bearing panels such as brushes, swatches, and symbols. On the type side of things you can now scroll through and apply fonts using arrow keys, and the color panel has a new adjustable color ramp.
Easily create seamlessly tiled vector patterns. Experiment freely with different types of repeating patterns that can be edited at any time for maximum design flexibility.
New Image Trace
Image trace is a completely new image tracer that makes the conversion of raster images into editable vector artwork quick and easy. Get clean lines, accurate fitting, and reliable results without using complex controls.
Gradients on strokes
The new gradient on strokes features allows you to easily apply gradients to strokes. What’s very neat is this can be done — along the length, across the width, or within the stroke itself — all with complete control over gradient placement and opacity.
Inline editing in panels
Efficiently edit names in layers, swatches, brushes, artboards, and other panels directly in the panels themselves without using intermediate dialog boxes. This saves time and helps prevent confusion when working with a large number of items.
Gaussian Blur enhancement
See that Gaussian Blur and effects such as Drop Shadows and Glows are applied significantly faster than before. To improve accuracy, preview directly on the artboard rather than in a dialog box.
Color panel enhancements
Sample colors faster and more precisely using an expandable color spectrum in the Color panel. And now, copy and paste hex values into other applications more quickly.
Type panel improvements
Use arrow keys to change fonts in context for selected text. Glyphs for caps, superscripts, and more can now be accessed in one place — from the Character panel.
Workspaces with rooms
Move fluidly from workspace to workspace with support for rooms. Achieve consistency across your work areas and maintain layout changes until you actively reset them.
Control panel enhancements
Quickly find what you need in a more efficient Control panel, now with consistency across options, anchor point controls, clipping masks, envelope distortions, and more.
Transparency panel improvements
Create and work with opacity masks more easily, thanks to the new Make Mask/Release button that now displays the masking functionality in the Transparency panel.
True white canvas color
Set your Illustrator CS6 workspace canvas to white for fast color sampling when you need to quickly grab a pure white.
In addition to the many new features and enhancements you can work with precision, speed, and rock-solid stability on large, complex files thanks to a new performance system that powers Illustrator CS6. With native 64-bit support on Mac OS and Windows® you can access all the RAM on your computer to easily open, save, and export large files and preview demanding designs. Just about everything feels faster and more responsive.
If you have a current subscription you will receive Illustrator CS6 at no charge, alternatively though you can either upgrade from a recent version or purchase the CS6 version of Illustrator.