My favorite tool for online image editing, Picnik, was bought by Google a few years back. On April 19, Picnik was shut down so that its image editing tools could get wrapped up into Google’s master plan of having services such as Picasa (their image hosting service) and Picnik (providing the editing) all incorporate into their Google+ social network. My beloved little online image editor was sacrificed—a causality of Google/Facebook wars of the 2010’s.
That made me wonder what I would use instead of Picnik to teach my students photo editing. Sure, there are options out there; Aviary Suite or GIMP comes to mind. But most are trying to be Photoshop, and that is completely over the heads of my students. What I wanted was something more along the lines of Instagram: cropping, basic filters and effects, and above all, SIMPLE TO USE.
The market it seems is an ecosystem, and in the void created by Picnik, PicMonkey has taken hold. PicMonkey copies many of the features of Picasa and Instagram to create a simple, registration-free photo editor on your browser. No email needed for setup, no installing software. Just lots and lots of fun.
If you have a digital camera in your classroom, you will want to go to this site right now and give it a spin.
I am going to get a little nerdy here, but try to follow me. I once heard that if web companies were superheroes, Google would be Superman: massive, overwhelmingly powerful and seemingly benevolent. But, like Superman, everyone throws a fit when they change his look, or they throw in some new plot twist. Also like Superman, everyone fears the day that Google some day turns on us and rules us like a king…
First it was my beloved Google Cow, a joke feature of Google Body that nonetheless was the BEST THING EVER. Then it was their new policy of demanding that everyone with a Google account also have a Google+ and Gmail account. The hope from a corporate standpoint is that they can muscle out Facebook in the social networking field if they force people to join their little club.
Which leaves teachers like me in a little bit of a predicament. Things no longer work unless you have a Google account, and you can’t have a Google account without the email and the Google+ profile, something that I can’t and won’t force on my students. Which is why I found a workaround.
This hits home with one of my favorite services: Picnik. Picnik is a great little site that lets you edit your photos and add all kinds of nifty effects. It is particularly great because it does not require you to understand all the filter-y layer-y photoshop mumbo-jumbo. It just gets right to the good stuff.
Google bought Picnik, and this April will lock it away in the fortress of solitude that is Google+ to live a new life as an integrated photo editor for the social network, far, far away from my poor students, who yearn for the day when they will again be able to paste mustaches on their friends and paste UFOs over our school. The only silver lining? Until April, all of Picnik’s features, even its premium ones, are free. So get it while you can people.
You lost my business, Google. From now on I will have to use FotoFlexer, Aviary or any number of other alternatives.