- Easy-to-use but not restrictive
- Huge selection of filters and effects
- Helpful tips with each tool
- Non-destructive editing
- Great value
- Importing and sharing via URL
- Using brush-based tools can be slow
- Not the easiest mobile app to use
- Limited contact options
There’s an unspoken truth about photo editing software. Most will think of Adobe’s suite of tools for tweaking photography to perfection, but when it comes to cloud-based software alternatives… well, opinions aren’t always in the best light. Ribbet is a champion for the cause, then, offering a selection of features that many online tools simply don’t, balancing high-level, complex functions with the same ease-of-use that is expected of browser-based photo editing. A lot of thought has gone into making this a definitive package and for the average user it’s one of the few online editing services that can actually compete with the likes of Photoshop and Lightroom. It’s all powered by ads, too, meaning that the majority of this robust feature set is available completely free, while the worthwhile benefits of a premium subscription cost as little as $2.50. Ribbet could well be Prince Charming in disguise.
Best Photo Editing Software of 2023
As is typical with online photo editing suites, the tools of Ribbet are packaged neatly into corresponding categories; it’s a slick UI with subtle but impressive flourishes, such as how the names of each category fade into view as you mouse over an icon or the option to toggle between light and dark themes.
The “Picks” category is interesting because it highlights suitable tools for your needs, mixing in particular effects and filters with suggested stickers or facial editing options, though unfortunately this doesn’t work smartly and instead always offers up the same prescripted range of features.
However, there have been some real genius ideas implemented into Ribbet. A favoriting tool means finding your preferred functions and filters is immediate, a photo basket gives you ready access to uploaded images for combined creations, while practically every tool comes with an explanation of its function ensures no one is left unsure.
And the thing is, when it comes to editing Ribbet doesn’t lose much in its raft of options either. While some effects are undoubtedly more complex than others, there’s a great balance to enable both levels of experience – from the total newcomer to the expert editor – to make use of the suite in a simple, effective and satisfying way.
Everything comes with a “Fade” slider to control just how intense that effect should be, but in most cases there are at least three sliders for manipulating to perfection. That means it’s possible to finitely control an effect to your liking – such as just how much of a vignette you want on a particularly contrast-heavy photo – and with tons of different filters to apply this means a massive palette of possibilities.
Just How Feature-Packed Is Ribbet?
In fact, while this selection of effects and filters might seem overwhelming, they’re actually all quite separate from one another so you’re not just applying the same effect multiple times with only the shade of color changing. Even these are categorized – covering simple effects in “Camera” to more radical edits in “Artistic” or “Sandbox” – while the clever option to reduce the size of each menu item means that even scrolling through the wealth of options isn’t too much of a chore.
They’re all very deftly implemented, too, in fact we’d go so far as to say that Ribbet is one of the best at applying its filters and tools in a truly non-destructive manner. Even the sharpen function can be controlled so as to avoid appearing aggressively enhanced and damaged as a result, which is rare praise indeed. When even the options for collage creation are varied, customizable, and original (the ability to arrange photos into a specific shape is particularly novel), it’s easy to see just how much consideration has gone into the software’s design as a whole.
Where Ribbet Can Be Improved
Admittedly the weight of all these features does seem to have its drawbacks; on a couple of occasions the software crashed or bugged out and needed to be reloaded. This is likely due to the software running on Flash, but rather impressively this is resolved by the fact that all edits are saved to the cloud as you go. This should be a given for cloud-based software, but it’s surprisingly rare to actually see implemented into photo editing suites. It’s not perfect, admittedly, but any recent edits are remembered meaning that the undo/redo functionality continues to work even after returning to your image.
Brush tools are a little slow to work with, too, at least on larger resolution photos, which can make editing smaller details – particularly with the cloning tool – a tad frustrating. And while the lack of an in-built layers feature does have an inventive workaround (see Import & Export), its omission is perhaps the biggest thing preventing it from being a true Photoshop competitor. It’s worth stressing, though, that none of this holds Ribbet back from greatness.
Import & Export
While the list of file types that Ribbet accepts includes all the major image formats, this is actually through a process of conversion via ImageMagick. What is impressive, however, is the slew of options open to users for importing, with the big media platforms of Facebook, Flickr, and Google Photos all present.
In addition to that is the unusual ability to capture a photo directly with a webcam – alongside some fun effects – which is an entertaining addition, however superfluous it might be. Being able to import an image from a URL is particularly valuable, though, since it means images uploaded to unsupported channels like Twitter can be used directly without having to download them first.
One point of interest, however, is how Ribbet can be linked with Pixlr, the big-name cloud photo editor. In doing so Ribbet is able to overstep its lack of layers by allowing those with knowledge of such functions to make deeper, more professional edits to their images before flattening the image and reimporting back into Ribbet for further changes. It’s an unorthodox solution, but one that veteran editors will appreciate.
Though the only options for exporting are .JPG or .PNG there’s still a great amount of control over the process, allowing for either specific dimensions or to scale as a percentage. With .JPGs it’s possible to control the compression, accompanied by a brief sentence handily suggesting how the end result will look and the estimated file size – both incredibly useful for knowing what you’re affecting.
In much the same way that Ribbet’s use of URLs for importing is a useful and appreciated addition, having the same function for sharing is doubly handy. While direct uploading to Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest are all available for those that want it, with URL sharing it’s possible to ensure your carefully edited photos are presented to the internet in all their glory without the ugly compression that typically comes from uploading to social media. It’s not something that was anticipated – or even expected – but its addition is actually incredibly valuable.
If there are any limitations to Ribbet, then it’s perhaps in its availability of platforms. As a cloud-based program it naturally can run on any browser that is compatible with Flash, which does mean that there may be some incompatibilities with Safari that might be hard to diagnose since Apple’s internet software historically has hiccups when it comes to the web tool.
There is an app for iPhone and iPad, however, with Android left out in the cold. However, this app is completely separate to its bigger brother. There’s no cross-compatibility, which is a disappointing loss, but the option to only pay for premium on mobile means you can save some money if that’s what you’d prefer to use.
With that said, though it is a clever decision to limit the app’s access to the vast feature set of the browser version to ensure the app doesn’t become overly convoluted, the result is fewer effects and filters and it does feel a little lacking in comparison. Its menu system is a tricky to get used to as well – the side-menu layout is a little fiddly to operate – but as an extra it’s a fair addition to the overall package.
Since Ribbet operates a completely free version with nonintrusive adverts, this impressive service is available without any need for payment whatsoever. While some filters and functions are limited to premium subscriptions only, these are mostly surplus tools and not a huge loss to the majority of users.
But that’s not to say there aren’t any benefits to subscribing. Just by signing up you’ll be able to upload five photos into the online storage to return to later while premium subscribers will have the luxury of uploading 100 images, removing adverts and unlocking every feature.
And it’s not even that difficult to decide to make the switch to a paid version, either, since Ribbet’s base price – paid on a per-month basis – is only $4.99, one of the cheapest on the market. Add in the opportunity to reduce the price by up to 50% for an annually-paid subscription and competitors will have to do something extraordinary to compete with Ribbet’s value.
There is a 14-day trial available, too, but frustratingly we could only find a way of activating this through the mobile app – which does admittedly include premium access for the desktop version – and not through the website itself.
Since Ribbet has help options built directly into the software itself, it’s easy to see why the company didn’t bother fleshing out its support options too much. Practically every single function has a little ‘i’ icon that, once clicked, offers a short explanation on how to use the tool.
But Ribbet’s assistance beyond that is pretty much non-existence. A contact form is the only way to get in touch with support, which does fulfill its promise of 24-hour response times. A brief FAQ on the contact page answers a handful of questions surrounding payment, but the unhelpful forum is perhaps the only way to seek answers on software use since support via Twitter and Facebook is a no-go.
It’s rare to be as impressed by cloud-based photo editing software as this. Ribbet doesn’t have many of the restrictions that come with editing images in a browser and treads the line between complexity and ease-of-use deftly. Yes, it doesn’t quite have the clout to take on downloadable software, but it can certainly stand tall among such programs proudly.
It has a wide range of filters and tools, and gives full control over the resulting image to the user. It is capable of producing some rather novel, rarely seen effects, and includes a number of smart design choices to make editing as smooth as possible. The fact that it also one of the cheapest services on the market makes it hard to ignore, and its competitors should sit up and pay attention – because if they don’t they may well wake up one day with a frog in their collective throat.
Best Photo Editing Software of 2023