Review: Aviary Creativity Suite

When Paul Stamatiou first blogged about Aviary a few days ago, my curiosity was piqued. We’re hearing about all these Internet-based applications popping up all the time and how they are on the road to becoming viable alternatives to the software sitting in our hard drives, and Aviary may very well be one of them.

Aviary is a creativity suite geared toward all genres of art, be it typography, music, photography, video—name it, Aviary’s got it. They’ve listed a total of 18 applications on their tools page, although as of now only two—Phoenix, a Photoshop-like app I’ll be talking about later, and Peacock, a pattern generation service—are available to users, with a third one, Toucan (a color swatches and palettes creator) available to a select few.

Although the service is in invite-only beta, it looks to be very promising and, with further improvements, could prove a tough competitor in its market.

Phoenix, Web-based photo editor

Trying out Phoenix's magic wand tool. If you squint hard enough, you'll notice that it's running in a Firefox window.
Trying out Phoenix's magic wand tool. If you squint hard enough, you'll notice that it's running in a Firefox window.

Phoenix is Aviary’s flagship product. It’s a Web-based photo editor with a lot of the functionalities we’ve all come to know and love on Adobe Photoshop. For example, it has a Layers feature, eerily similar to the one in Photoshop, and the menus and tools in the app may strike as familiar, as well. While at present its features are limited (lasso doesn’t have a “magnetic” version; no masks for me to refine my selection), I don’t see why its developers can’t integrate more functionalities to it in the future.

At present, though, I can’t say I’ll use Phoenix for all my hefty photo editing. It’s no Photoshop (at least, not yet ;-)). I will tell you, though, that it is one step ahead of Picnik and Photoshop Express, since it does more than touch up the brightness and contrast of your pictures.

The other Aviary app available to me at the moment, Peacock, generates patterns for you to use. I haven’t tinkered with it much yet, and I figure it’s going to take some training before I can use this thing without having to look at its Help page every three seconds, so I’ll get back to you on this one.

Side notes

Aviary can be easily classified into the “cloud computing” category, and as earlier mentioned, it can be a viable alternative to that expensive photo editor that’s eaten up half your hard drive space. Loading times are an expected qualm about services like this. Even now, it takes a considerable amount of time for Phoenix to load up (I’m on wireless broadband), and I wonder how its developers can keep it streamlined and responsive enough without having to sacrifice functionality. (The same goes for the other members of the Aviary suite, such as the Myna audio editor and the Starling video editor.) Still, as new technologies continue to break the surface, and as existing technologies continue to get better, I’m confident Aviary will—eherm, excuse the pun—fly pretty well.

As I said, it’s an invite-only thing. I have a very limited number of invitations, so if you want to try it out, you can panhandle for an invite from me by commenting on this post or by contacting me.

Aviary is developed by Worth1000, LLC, a company I heard about only now.

[Link to Aviary website]

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