Picnik allows users to perform basic photo editing functions like cropping and resizing pictures. In addition, users can add effects, stickers and frames to their pictures. For an additional fee of $4.95 a month (or $24.95 a year), users can get access to more advanced editing tools and additional effects, fonts and stickers. Until now, Picasa users only had the option to edit photos in the Picasa desktop application.
The integration between the two services is seamless, though Picnik's design is clearly different from Picasa's and quite a few users will probably think that they've arrived on a non-Google site. As Jonathan Sposata, the product manager for Google Photos and Picnik's original founder told us yesterday, this was a conscious decision on Google's part. Just like YouTube and a few other Google properties, Picnik will retain its original branding. Google is also keeping Picnik's fee structure intact. Picasa should automatically recognize if a Picnik user has a paid or free account.
Google didn't add any new features to Picnik. Instead, Sposata told us, most of the work over the last few months went into migrating Picnik's back-end (which ran on a combination of Picnik's own servers and Amazon's S3 storage service) to Google's infrastructure.
What About Picasa on the Desktop?
Overall, this is a welcome addition to the online version of Picasa, as it enables users to perform relatively complex image editing functions right in the browser. Interestingly, though, there is now a very clear mismatch between the editing functions in the Picasa desktop client and the online version. Chances are that Google will soon rectify this situation. As Sposata told us, today's announcement is just "the first sign of many wonderful things to come." Judging from our discussion with Google, bringing more of Picnik's tools to more Google properties in the near future is definitely one of the team's current priorities.