Aviary’s New APIs Democratizes Photo Editing, Online and On The Go

“The best camera is the one you have with you”, the old adage goes, and with the proliferation of smartphones with high quality cameras, it’s more true today than ever. Even though I only have an aging phone with a 1.3 megapixel camera, it’s still the first thing I’d grab when I need to take a picture.

The same is true for photo editing. Sure, Photoshop is powerful, and many of us couldn’t live without it. Love it or not, Creative Suite is one of the first things many people install on their computers, right after Microsoft Office. Aviary’s advanced web apps have made it possible to kick Adobe’s apps to the curb to a degree, but they’re still often more trouble to use.

But what if Aviary’s tools were built into every app you ever use? That’s exactly what the future might hold. Let’s take a look at Aviary’s new APIs, and how it might be the best photo editor just because it’s the editor you’ll always have with you.

A Web App Grows Up

Since coming out of beta almost 3 years ago, the Aviary team has built up an impressive suite of web apps for almost any multimedia editing and creation you can think of. You can edit images, create vector graphics, and jam out rhythms and loops all in your browser. They’re great examples of how powerful online applications can be, though unfortunately, on slow internet connections they’re also proof that online apps can be painful to use without broadband.

Many have found it hard to integrate Aviary’s apps into their workflow. Say you’re writing a blog post on your WordPress.com or Tumblr blog, and you want to tweak a picture you took on your vacation before posting it. You’ll first have to copy the picture to your computer, upload it to Aviary, tweak it, download a copy of the edited picture to your computer, and finally upload it to your blog. That’s a lot of steps, and most of us simply fire up Photoshop or GIMP to tweak the picture, or post the photo as-is since editing’s too difficult.

That’s where Aviary’s web API comes in. Aviary rewrote their main photo editing engine in HTML5, and turned it into an embeddable editor that devs can build into their own web apps. Now, instead of having to write photo tools themselves, devs could build a new, say, blogging app that has rich photo editing features thanks to Aviary. Suddenly, there’s no reason not to edit your pictures. It’s so easy to add Aviary’s tools to your app, there’s no reason now that any web app that does anything with photos shouldn’t include basic editing tools.

Editing photos with Aviary's web API right inside any web app you design

The web API makes Aviary’s photo editing much easier to use when you need it, but it still doesn’t help much when you’re on the go and need to tweak your photos before tweeting them. That’s why Aviary just launched a new native API for mobile apps for iOS and Android. Dozens of apps are now adding rich new photo editing options thanks to the Aviary API. It’s simple to add to your apps, and gives you tons of Photoshop-type features without having to spend hours coding photo features. It’s a neat future for a web app that’s now going to be one of the most recognized names in photo editing, right up there with Adobe.

A quick demo of Aviary iOS SDK

Is Mobile Killing the Web?

The most troubling aspect of the new Aviary Mobile API for web app enthusiasts is that it’s a native API, not a web API. When you’re using Aviary in a mobile app, you’re using native code, rather than Aviary’s web app. Does this finally prove, once and for all, that native apps have fully won on mobile, and mobile web apps are doomed to obscurity?

Nope. Just like we mentioned before, the best editor is the one you’ve got with you. Aviary and other web apps have always been more difficult to use for editing pictures since you have to upload your image and then edit it. Apps like Min.us have made it easier to add files from your desktop with HTML5 drag-and-drop uploading, but for the most part, it’s time consuming and slow to upload pictures first, especially on the go. The interesting thing is, many of the apps that will integrate with the Aviary mobile API, such as picplz, Schoology, and more, are actually designed to share pictures and more online. Mobile browsers right now don’t work great for uploading files, but these apps will let you be more creative and interact with richer web apps on the go.

So there’s the future of development: a web app turns into a mobile API for other apps that will share content on the web. Looks like the cloud really has turned into an important part of our overall computing platform, but as we’ve mentioned with iCloud, perhaps the best apps are the ones that work great natively and in the cloud. Aviary gives developers the chance to make quality web and mobile apps, and get the same tools in both.


Sometimes, it really does seem like everything is a mashup, but that’s not a bad thing. Simple apps can work together to make more advanced apps, while letting each set of developers focus on what they’re best at.

The Aviary team has built some of the most impressive Flash powered web apps, and it’s exciting to see them pouring their resources into HTML5 and mobile tools designed to let anyone make advanced photo apps quicker than ever. Now, when inspiration strikes you for a great new photo-centric web or mobile app, Aviary’s APIs might be just what you’re looking for. Expect Aviary’s tools to become the ones you rely on because they’re right there in the apps you love!