We recently reported that Picnik will be closing on April 19th. The demise of the popular online photo-editing service has been met with scorn from fans, who are unhappy with Google’s decision to kill one of the web’s best free tools in the name of consolidation.
There’s no need to panic, however. While Picnik will be missed, there are some solid alternatives available that are just as free.
Google+ Creative Kit
If you don’t consider the actions of Google to be a mortal sin, you may receive the best results by sticking with the Google family. The company’s Creative Kit is, in essence, a port of Picnik’s functionality into Google+. Users have been able to use this feature for several months, but awareness remains limited. That’s probably because the Creative Kit is easy to miss. To access it, you first need to click on a photo you’ve uploaded in Google+, then click on the rather small Creative Kit button tucked away into the upper left hand corner of the screen.
Most of the basic features of Picnik can be found here, minus the Advanced, Touch-Up and Frames categories. With that said, I’d be shocked if Google does not add in these tools within the next few months. I don’t think the company has anything against free photo editing – they just want people to use these tools through Google+ rather than a separate website.
Speaking of which, you can export all of your Picnik photos over to Google+, making it rather easy to migrate from one to the other.
Aviary (Phoenix or Facebook App)
One of the better free image editing options available on the web is Phoenix, which is part of the Aviary suite of free media editing utilities. Phoenix is not tied into any social network or any other website and it doesn’t require registration. You can load it and start editing within seconds.
The interface itself is more akin to a traditional image editing program like Photoshop, so it could be a little intimidating at first. You also won’t find some of the easy photo filtering features you find with Picnik.
Where you will find those features is the Aviary app on Facebook, which was just launched. Known officially as the Aviary Image Editor, this tool gives you the ability to open photos from your albums and manipulate them with a number of common tools. There are even stickers to add and effects to apply.
Better still, you can connect Picnik to Facebook, so you can edit and save photos now with Picnik but open them later in the Aviary Image Editor if you want to make any changes.
Making the choice for the third alternative in this article was tough. There’s a lot of good options out there such as Fotoflexer and Phixer. However, these simply seem to do the same thing as the Creative Kit and Aviary Image Editor, but offer an inferior interface and inferior social network connectivity.
So instead I direct you to Pixlr, a veteran of the online image editing wars. Pixlr is a lot like Phoenix. It’s a standalone photo editor geared towards advanced users. However, of the two I’d say Pixlr is without a doubt the more robust option. It simply has more features.
Pixlr also offers an easy editor called Pixlr-o-matic, which is available online, via Facebook and as an iOS and Android app. However, it’s focused on adding effects and filters rather than real photo editing.
Although not directly a part of any social network, Pixlr does include the stand social network connectivity, which means you can open and edit photos stored in Facebook and Picasa (among others).
I think that Aviary Image Editor is the leader of the alternatives listed here. Creative Kit is nice, but its integration into Google+ seems a bit Frankenstein. Google has taken a stripped-down version of the Picnik software and stitched it on to their social network. Hopefully they will put more work into the feature.
What alternative will you be using once Picnik goes offline? Let us know in the comments.