Summary:

Photographers have long relied on RAW images — the actual image data from a camera sensor. But the web doesn’t work with RAW images. Or does it? Pics.io has a browser-based tool where RAW images on Google Drive can be viewed or edited.

DSLR-A330 Copper Brown

Does a browser replacement for Photoshop sound too good to be true? What if, to make it even better, it took advantage of Google Drive? Lets take it one step further and add image viewing and editing for RAW photography images, which are made from the native sensor data from a camera and are preferred by many photographers. By the end of this month, we could see all of that.

Pics.io is the service that says it can deliver all of this and it has several videos to show off the concept. For example, a browser can’t typically display a RAW image file because it essentially doesn’t know what to do with the sensor data that comprises the image. That’s why we collectively use different file formats, such as .JPG, .PNG, .TIFF and others on the web. This video shows that RAW images can be converted in the browser, viewed and even edited, although no heavy image manipulation is being done.

The support for RAW images is a big deal, but leveraging the cloud is another: The uncompressed and unprocessed data in a RAW image file causes the file sizes to be much larger than compressed versions. So if one had a high resolution Chromebook Pixel and say, a terabyte of Google Drive data to go with it — see where I’m going here? — Pics.io would be a hugely useful service. Here’s how the company describes it:

Imagine all your photos finally in one place. So you can enjoy them from any device – iPad, laptop, smartphone – without hardcore syncing and dealing with storage issues. Organized and searchable. Nope? Still not great? How about advanced post processing workflow (picture a combination of Lightroom and Photoshop)? And special algorithms to make photos of kittens even cuter. Well, maybe just the last is impossible.

There’s plenty more to see on the Pics.io site and I’m looking forward to seeing if it actually delivers. If so, I may dust off my old Canon DSLR and play with some RAW imagery in Chrome OS. Thanks much to Rick Huizinga for pointing out Pics.io. As he says, there’s one less potential barrier for people to use a web-based computer: “With a RAW photography tool, ChromeOS can now totally replace my need for a computer using a classic operating system.

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