We’re big fans of Pixlr Photo Editor here at Chrome Unboxed. On the web and for Chromebooks, it’s one of the earliest and still one of the best Photoshop alternatives for creatives, especially if you have the One by Wacom graphics tablet that we reviewed earlier this year.
Back in February, however, the company did have a legitimate breach where nearly 2 million user accounts had their data compromised, and that’s no easy pill to swallow. With that in mind, we’ll be looking at several new features today that the photo editing PWA is gaining for 2022, but if you’re averse to using it for this reason, then we won’t fault you. It’s always best to be upfront and mention these things so that their shiny, new coat of paint and brand new logo doesn’t deceive you. Pixlr asked everyone to change their passwords when the leak occurred, so technically, they’ve reinforced their service and made it safe again, but there’s nothing to say something like that couldn’t happen again, right?
With 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! What caught my eye the most was the fact that it was finally implementing touch and graphics tablet pen pressure right through the browser. Yeah, I know, that’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 incredible.
Now, regarding pen pressure, I tried it out on both Chrome OS and Windows, and I have to say, it’s much more stable on Chrome OS. There’s almost a “lazy pen” effect going on to stabilize it, allowing you to draw much more accurately, but if you zoom in, lines are still more rasterized or jagged than traditional applications like Photoshop. It’s fine if you aren’t trying to zoom in and draw, but I find that I do this all the time, so it was just sort of weird that everything looked bad when I tried to take the same workflow as I do on my original software of choice.
Obviously, Pixlr pen pressure was just released, so I’ll give it a pass here, so long as the developers continue to work out the kinks, but it’s just not quite there yet. Don’t get me wrong – you can absolutely use it to draw, but it’s not going to let you flow as freely as if you were to use something like Artflow Studio from Google Play or something. I even tried to use a larger canvas, and instead of it resolving the issue, lines still looked bad when I zoomed in, and the increased canvas size caused a bit of lag in the browser. Again, usable, but not quite there yet. The whole thing still gets more points from me than other attempts at it though!
Another feature that’s been released is batch editing of up to 50 photos at the same time. You can use Pixlr to convert loads of images from one type to another without having to resort to something like convert.io, crop, and even rotate them all simultaneously! Next, we have “Magic Remove”, a feature that’s reminiscent of Google’s new Magic Eraser feature on Pixel phones. Not even kidding, you can literally do that with any image right through your browser now! You can remove spots or entire objects, and the software will do its best to fill in the space with what it thinks ought to go there using AI and machine learning. So far as I’ve seen, this one works better than Google’s, but don’t come at me if you disagree.
There’s also a new one-click animation tool that lets you adjust elements in your canvas to fade, rise from bottom to top, soothe in, or speed in with action, just as you’d normally do with something like Google Slides transitions. The company hopes to help users get creative beyond just static images. There are already an impressive 21 animations to choose from, but only the first five are accessible to free users, and for the rest, you’ll have to subscribe to Pixlr Pro.
Wrapping things up, you can publish your designs in “.Animation”, “.Image”, and “.Document” formats, which is really just a list of categories that contain other image types. Animation types include MP4, GIF, ZIP (containing individual animation frames), and PXZ (Pixlr’s own format), Image formats include JPG, PNG, WebP, and again, PXZ. Lastly, document formats include just PDF and PXZ, but overall, there’s more variety now than there used to be, I guess.
In the end, the new Pixlr has a shiny, new logo, loads of new tools, and a new slogan – “Good things come to those who click”, but you’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not that’s really true. Bad things came to those who clicked last time when 1.9 million accounts were leaked on a forum thanks to ShinyHunters, but the company would like for you to forget about that. If they gave some sort of promise that they have reinforced security and discussed how it’s less hackable now, then the idea of having pen pressure on the web would probably be more appealing to more people. I’m excited about this and will set up my account with data that I don’t use elsewhere so I can enjoy the benefits and test things out more. As the saying goes…”Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me.