Fauxto, the Webware for photo editing that looks a lot like a desktop application, has a new look and feel. It's relaunched as Splashup and has added several new features that in many ways bring it closer to Fotoflexer, one of its main competitors. This was an interesting product for me to come back to, mainly since it was one of the first Web-based photo-editing apps I got to look at after starting at Webware, and since then the genre has seen tremendous growth.
The real draw to the app has always been its use of layers, which give you a very powerful way to manipulate and create new images using bits and pieces from one or more original photos. Up until a few months ago, other Web-based photo-editing apps didn't have this functionality.
The biggest change since I looked at the service late last year is the addition of undo controls that let you go back a step in case you make a mistake. It's also gotten much better at linking up with places where your photos might reside, such as Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa. Similar to how other Web photo-editing services have handled this, you simply need to authenticate Fauxto to each service by logging in, then you can freely browse all your albums. Originally you were limited to whatever was on your hard drive, or a URL. Likewise, saving is now far better, and you can save locally (in multiple formats) or export the shots back to the site or origin, or whatever supported sites you've given login credentials.
There are also some new tools that are aimed at the higher-end user such as a lasso and cropping tool, along with a tool that lets you take any selected imagery and copy it into a new layer. For grabbing quick shots of your face, there's now a built-in Web cam tool that will take a quick snapshot, although it's nowhere near as advanced as Fotoflexer's iteration that does on-the-fly filter and liquefy effects.
Unfortunately that's about all that's changed inside a year. There are still some usability tweaks I'd like to see that would bring it up to spec with some of the competition. For example, WYSIWYG font editing, and a preview for filters would be absolutely wonderful. Picnik's got these, and they make a world of difference both in exploring what you can do with a photo, and giving you a quick once-over of whether or not it's worth using that tool. There's also no magic wand tool, which any Photoshop guru will tell you is a handy way to cover ground quickly when trying to isolate parts of an image. Images are also still capped at 1,500x1,500 (up from 1,000x1,000) which is still well under most consumer's typical digital snapshots. Trying to open a 7 megapixel source shot from Flickr simply left the app in an endless loading screen.
A year ago, I would have recommended Splashup wholeheartedly as a simple way to make quick edits to photos, but in today's Web photo froth there's a ton of innovation from competitors that are doing more than trying to emulate desktop apps. While Splashup is still a whole lot more useful than Microsoft Paint, for an easier, and more powerful photo editing experience, stick with Picnik or Fotoflexer.