Home Google Updates Picasa and Picasa Web Albums

Google Updates Picasa and Picasa Web Albums

Google’s Picasa team released a number of major updates to both its desktop photo managing application Picasa and its online photo gallery this week. On Tuesday, we already reported about the addition of face recognition to the Picasa web albums, but Google also added Creative Comments licenses and email uploads, while the desktop application now lets you create collages, retouch photos, add text to your images, and upload your videos to YouTube.


Google’s desktop photo-managing software has always been a great product, and the newest version, which was released on Tuesday, builds on the success of its predecessors.

The overall layout has not changed, but Google has added a large number of interesting new features in this release.

You can now easily sync albums between your desktop and Picasa’s online albums. Any change you make on the desktop will be reflected online. However, this does not work the other way round, which limits the usefulness of this feature quite a bit.

Among the other new features are the ability to add text to your photos, retouch photos, create collages, upload movies to YouTube, and create movies based on your photos, videos, and music.

One other neat feature is that the cropping tool now automatically tries to find the best places to start cropping in a picture.

Picasa Web Albums

We were a bit skeptical when Google first announced the face recognition feature, but in our tests, it actually performed quite well. Part of this might have to do with the fact that Google did not get too ambitious and left a lot of manual work to the users. While Picasa recognizes that a face is present and will group similar faces together, it leaves the final approval of the tags to the user, though Picasa will make an educated guess about whose face it is seeing. Because of this, there is less of a chance of making a mistake, but it also means more work for the user.

While the face recognition feature is definitely the splashiest addition to Picasaweb in this this new release, Google also added a lot of other new features to the web gallery. These updates include Creative Commons rights management, an Explore page that showcases some of the best public pictures, and the ability to upload photos by email.

Chasing Down the Competition

Of course, a lot of these new features besides the face recognition have already been standard in a lot of other online photo albums and these updates mostly make it seem as if Google is trying to get its feature set up to par with Yahoo’s Flickr. Especially the ‘Explore’ page would not look out of place there.

For Picasa’s Web Albums to really become popular, though, Google will have to increase the amount of space it is giving its users on the service. Right now, you only get 1GB of space for photos, which is simply not enough. You can buy more space from Google, but every other service offer more space or uses a monthly bandwidth limit instead of putting a hard limit on storage.

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