We’re big fans of Pixlr Photo Editor here on Chrome Unboxed. On the web and for Chromebooks, it’s one of the first and still one of the best Photoshop alternatives for creatives, especially if you’ve got the One by Wacom graphics tablet we reviewed earlier this year.
In February, however, the company had a legitimate breach where nearly 2 million user accounts had their data compromised, and it’s not an easy pill to swallow. With that in mind, today we’ll take a look at several new features that the Photo Editing PWA is gaining for 2022, but if you don’t use it for that reason, we’re not to blame you. It’s always best to be blunt and mention these things so that their shiny new coat of paint and brand new logo don’t fool you. Pixlr asked everyone to change their passwords when the leak happened, so technically they’ve beefed up their service and made it safe again, but there’s nothing more to say than something like that couldn’t happen again, right?
That being said, the web app released a new video this week that showcases several new and exciting features, some of which are already available right now for you to try out! What caught my attention the most was the fact that it was finally implementing touch and graphics pen pressure directly through the browser. Yeah, I know, it’s awesome, right? We’re finally reaching a point in time where this sort of thing is possible without having to download or install any software. The web is truly amazing.
Now, as far as stylus pressure goes, I’ve tried it on both Chrome OS and Windows, and have to say it’s a lot more stable on Chrome OS. There’s almost a “lazy pen” effect to stabilize it, letting you draw much more precisely, but if you zoom in, the lines are still more rasterized or jagged than traditional apps like Photoshop. It’s fine if you don’t try to zoom in and draw, but I find I do it all the time, so it was just a little weird that everything looked bad when I tried to take the same workflow as on my original software of choice.
Obviously, the Pixlr stylus pressure has just been released, so I’m going to give it a pass here, as long as the developers keep fixing the issues, but it’s not quite there yet. Don’t get me wrong – you absolutely can use it for drawing, but it won’t let you move around as freely as if you were using something like Artflow Studio from Google Play or something like that. I even tried using a larger canvas, and instead of fixing the problem the lines still looked bad when I zoomed in, and increasing the canvas size caused a bit of lag in the browser. . Again, usable, but not quite there yet. The whole thing gets even more points from me than other attempts!
Another feature that has been released is batch editing of up to 50 photos at the same time. You can use Pixlr to convert tons of images from one type to another without having to resort to something like convert.io, crop and even rotate them simultaneously! Then we have “Magic Remove,” a feature reminiscent of Google’s new Magic Eraser feature on Pixel phones. Even no kidding, you can literally do it with any image right through your browser now! You can remove spots or entire objects, and the software will do its best to fill the space with what it thinks needs to go there using AI and machine learning. From what I’ve seen, this one works better than Google’s, but don’t come up to me if you don’t agree.
There’s also a new one-click animation tool that lets you adjust elements of your canvas to fade, rise from the bottom to the top, soothe, or speed up the action, just like you normally would with something like Google Slides transitions. The company hopes to help users get creative beyond static images. There are already an impressive number of 21 animations to choose from, but only the first five are available to free users, and for the rest you’ll need to subscribe to Pixlr Pro.
Finally, you can publish your designs in “.Animation”, “.Image”, and “.Document” formats, which are really just a category list containing other types of images. Animation types include MP4, GIF, ZIP (containing individual animation frames), and PXZ (Pixlr-specific format), image formats include JPG, PNG, WebP, and again, PXZ. Finally, the document formats only include PDF and PXZ, but overall there is more variety now than before I guess.
Ultimately, the new Pixlr has a shiny new logo, plenty of new tools, and a new tagline – “Good things come to those who click”, but you’ll have to decide for yourself if that’s really true. Bad things happened to those who clicked the last time when 1.9 million forum accounts were leaked thanks to ShinyHunters, but the company would like you to forget that. If they promised they’d tighten up the security and discussed how it’s less hackable now, then the idea of having pen squeeze on the web would likely be more appealing to more people. I’m excited about this and will be setting up my account with data that I don’t use elsewhere so that I can reap the benefits and test things out further. As the saying goes… “Cheat on me once, shame on you; Cheat on me twice, shame on me.
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash