As you probably already know, Picnik’s days are numbered. The popular photo editing website, which was purchased by Google, is going under on April 19th, 2012.
Some of the features found in Picnik have made their way to the Google+ Creative Kit, but this requires that users start a Google+ account. That hasn’t gone over well with everyone. To the critics, I bring good news – members of the Picnik team have reformed to create a new site – and it’s looking awesome.
The spiritual successor to Picnik has been given the name PicMonkey. It doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well, but hey, there are only so many URLs still available. As you’d expect, it is a free service that lets you edit photos online.
Using the site is simple. There are four thumbnails on the main page. Three are standard images you can use to try out PicMonkey’s features and the fourth is a blank thumbnail. You can drag-and-drop a photo over the blank thumbnail to start editing. There is no registration required to edit or save photos. In fact, so far as I could find, registration isn’t even an option.
Once you’ve opened an image in PicMonkey you’ll be introduced to the editing window. All of the menu options are kept in a menu bar to the left.
The basic editing features are what you’d expect. You can crop, rotate, sharpen and resize photos. Adjusting exposure and color and is possible, as well, and these features include automatic adjustments that can be used to quickly improve a photo’s image quality.
These are far from the only features. Clicking on the icons in the menu bar will introduce you to other categories including effects, touch up, text, overlays and borders.
Users eager to see all of Picnik’s functionality replicated in another service will be disappointed – for now. At the moment the new site includes a small selection of stickers (found in the overlays section) and offers a limited number of borders and touch-up options. With that said, the options available do exceed what is currently available in the Google+ Creative Kit.
Patience should pay dividends. PicMonkey’s site specifically says “we’re gonna keep adding more features and more tools and not stop until you scream and say ‘Holy Macarena, people, go home and get a life because you’ve done. It. All!’”
Big words for a new site, but they’ve walked this road before.
Speed was one of the reasons for Picnik’s success. Though it ran in a browser, it felt as responsive as traditional photo editing software. This helped erase any reservations potential users had about the service.
PicMonkey is no different. Effects are applied to photos almost instantly and the menu, which has been simplified, feels even more responsive. Even photos with file sizes between 2 and 4 megabytes were no trouble, though the site does recommend such photos be reduced in size for optimal performance.
The Future Is Paid
All the features are currently free. However, some features are marked by a small crown logo. The first time you use these you will be presented with a prompt that tells you the feature will be part of a premium subscription, but right now it is being made available for free.
PicMonkey will eventually offer a subscription service just like Picnik. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. This business model has worked before and it allows the site to remain free of the advertisements which might reduce the space available to editing or slow performance.
Pricing has yet to be set. In fact, there’s not even an announced release date for the premium service. PicMonkey has only been live for a short time so it may be several months before they are able to implement the subscription.
Anyone who loved Picnik will love PicMonkey. The team working on the new site has but effort into further streamlining the interface, but the basics are the same. You’ll find the same features, the same performance and (eventually) the same revenue model.
There are a lot of alternatives to Picnik available, but this site is the only one that’s being worked on by former members of the Picnik development team. Play around with it and then let us know in the comments what you think. Would you be willing to consider paying a subscription when they move to a paid model?
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