Google announced that as of April 19, it will shut down Picnik, an online photo editing tool acquired by the company in 2010, and bundle some of the editing tools into their over-arching Google+ platform. The staff of Picnik remains with Google and apparently is working to add features from the editing software into Google+, but the photo tool, popular particularly among those uncomfortable with the complexity and price of Photoshop, will be shut down in April.
Flickr, which offered one-click editing options using Picnik, announced it would remove that capability and replace it with its own set of tools on January 13, but no one was certain why the move was made until now.
For those who used Picnik regularly and who either don't want or need Photoshop, the change leaves them needing an alternative source for online photo editing, a service often utilized by bloggers and amateur photographers.
If you are down in the dumps over the loss of Picnik, here are eight alternatives to help salve your wounds. Note that there are some great free editors like Picasa (also owned by Google) and Gimp (open source) available for download, but for the purposes of this, I am focusing on online editing tools.
This is about as simple as it gets. Zero special effects or advanced editing tools, but if you just need to quickly resize or rotate an image, this works. Careful as the editing icons are right above links to Google ads and are easily confused.
Snipshot is super easy to use, but in order to gain access to the more advanced features, you have to pay for them - $9 per month or $5 for a two-week pass.
Yes, the photo mega-editing software has an extremely stripped down online version. It's a tad slow, but it is a good basic online editor.
Pixenate is another hyper simple offering similar to Pixer but with more basic tools that include brightness, color manipulation, red eye adjustment and smile whitening(?).
Of all the over simplified online editors, this is the easiest to use and the most sophisticated. From text tools to framing to collage tools, it far surpasses it's low end competition.
It should be noted that the top three are unique. Like the others, they have basic photo editing capabilities, but these last three go into far greater detail adding layers and all sorts of Photoshop-like tools, setting them apart from the pack.
Splashup offers some very sophisticated tools for photo editing normally reserved for stand-alone software packages. The layout, like the others in the top three, is similar to Photoshop and allows users to do layering and add complex filtering. I'm not a big fan of the pop-up window for editing, but the tools are impressive.
Phoenix is the editor the most behaves like a stand alone software application. It looks like a standard application for one and has a Windows-like interface. For anyone using a lite version of Photoshop on a Windows computer, this might be a better option. Aviary, the company that makes Phoenix, also offers a range of tools for screen capture, image markup and even vector editing, but they are separate from Phoenix and must be opened on their own to be used.
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When it comes to on-the-fly online photo editing, Pixlr is my choice. Not only does it have the same tools as all of the top three in addition to some simple Hipstamatic-style filters, but it has a clean interface and, best of all, a tool -- Pixlr Grabber -- that integrates it seamlessly with Google Chrome and Firefox allowing users to grab an image from a website with a right click or even a defined area of the screen with a simple editing tool, though it can get a bit buggy at times. The Pixlr website offers a few other tools including Pixlr express if you are in a hurry and don't want all the fancy tools the editor provides. To me, this sits top of the heap and is the best alternative for former Picnik users.