Pics.io rolls out online RAW converter, collaborative photo sharing
Pics.io's long-term plans hold much promise for photographers, including browser-based photo editing — with support for RAW files — and online storage made possible by new technology that makes the web app, not your computer, perform the processing work. Pics.io could allow for multiple users on multiple devices to collaboratively edit RAW images in real time, and its Ukrainian developers say they'll offer the service on a subscription-based model that includes a free option.
While most of Pics.io's suite of advanced photo editing tools and storage solutions is currently in a closed alpha testing phase, portions of the forthcoming service are ready for users to explore now, for free.
Live.pics.io allows users to host an online slideshow using a variety of file formats, including RAW. "It's an early bird of the services we're going to build around the main product," described Konstantin Shtondenko, chief marketing officer at TopTechPhoto, the company behind Pics.io. Their promotional video shows it off pretty well:
As the "host" of a Live.pics.io session, you can upload JPG, DNG, CR2, NEF or PNG files to the browser-based service. Next you copy and send the URL to those with whom you want to share your images, your "guests." When they open the link, you'll see that they've connected to your session and they can watch as you direct your slideshow of images, and hear you as you describe what they are seeing. The service allows everyone in the session to hear each other.
You can also share RAW files directly via the service, without needing to convert or downsize the file. Live.pics.io handles the conversion nearly instantaneously as you drop the image into your browser window. Such speedy sharing of large files is possible because technically you're not uploading the image but sharing it as a 2 or 3MB JPEG preview of the RAW file, Shtondenko says.
Guests are unable to save images from Live.pics.io, though Shtondenko says developers can enable this feature if users request it. The peer-to-peer service also offers a greater level of privacy, which may intrigue users concerned about copyright just as much as those seeking a platform for sharing images of a more sensitive nature.
Right now Live.pics.io is built for Chrome and Firefox, though not in Chrome on iPad or Android tablets just yet. All participants must be using the same browser, though more compatibility options are expected soon.
The team has also launched Live.pics.io through Facebook which pretty well follows suite with the browser version, with the addition of a quick link to advertise a session directly to your Facebook page, though you can control who sees the post and therefore joins the session.
The service's RAW capabilities offer an advantage for photographers who want to share images within the social network without compromising image quality, and with added protection against downloading. The images privately shared via Live.pics.io in Facebook aren't saved and can't be traced on servers.
The same technology is also at work in Pics.io's online RAW converter, just made live today: raw.pics.io. Raw.pics.io allows quick conversion of CR2, NEF and DNG files to JPEG online.
"One click conversion to JPEG is a first step," Shtondenko explained. "We're going to develop it towards something like Camera Raw, when real raw data will be used to create an image."
While both Live.pics.io and raw.pics.io are rather limited in functionality at this point, it's easy to imagine how well each will fit with Pics.io's other online editing tools. Imagine being able to share RAW images with clients as you provide commentary and answer questions, or talk through the edits you want made with a photo retoucher. We'll definitely keep our eye on this continuing story.
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