Decoding Design

Google pictures a better photo-tweaking tool with Snapseed

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Snapseed offers more powerful editing tools than Instagram, which will up the ante (and lower the bar) for posting amazing photographs on Google+, compared to Facebook.

San Diego-based Nik Software, a 17-year-old developer of digital image editing tools, is now part of Google. The search giant did not reveal details of the acquisition, but the move is likely part of Google's endeavors to make its Google+ social network more competitive with Facebook, reports Wired.com.

Nik makes an array of professional editing tools, such as Color Efex Pro, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, and Dfine. But the Nik product that Google is likely eying is a photo tweaking tool called Snapseed. Just as Facebook gobbled up Instagram earlier this year to help smartphone-toting Facebook users boost their photography with handy filters and focus tools, Google+ could woo its members to do the same with Snapseed. What's more, Snapseed offers more powerful editing tools than Instagram, which will up the ante (and lower the bar) for creating amazing photographs.

Might that be enough to get Facebook users to hang out more within the cyber walls of Google+? Probably not on its own, but it can't hurt. Consumers are fickle and it seems as though a fair number of them will eventually tire of Facebook and might spend more time in Google+, if it offers more shiny, exciting cyber-baubles. Snapseed already has more than 9 million users, so it's got a healthy base of users for Google to leverage.

Snapseed has won a bevy of awards, including iPad app of the year, 2011, and best mobile (iOS) photo app, 2012. Curiously, Nik has yet to release an Android version of Snapseed, but given that Google developed Android, that should change posthaste.

While this move could make smartphone photographers happy, it's not been met with enthusiasm by existing Nik software users who left comments on the Nik blog posting announcing the acquisition. They worry that the Nik plug-ins and other editing tools that they most likely use on desktops, as part of professional photo processing, might now become Nik's red-headed stepchildren.

Here are some sample comments: "This is such a shame for the photographic community, as Nik Software and team where amongst the best in the industry, and a real value for photographers. I fear that now under the guidance of Google, the company will get consumed and lost in the Google cloud, and the future of the products will be very questionable." -- Malcolm

"This is terrifying. You make the best plug-ins in the business. I am scared." -- Dave

"I love you guys, and wish you the best of luck with the acquisition, but my heart will break in a million pieces if this is the end of your brilliant Aperture plugins. Hopefully Google won’t just brush them under a rug." -- Guillermo

I could cite others, but you get the picture.

Via: Wired.com

Photo: Snapseed gallery

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Mary Catherine O'Connor

Contributing Writer

Mary Catherine O'Connor has written for Outside, Fast Company, Wired.com, Smithsonian.com, Entrepreneur, Earth2Tech.com, Earth Island Journal and The Magazine. She is based in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure