Google’s latest web application has been released onto the public. In typical Google fashion this has been declared Beta, and will probably stay there for a while. However so far, it has proven to be a pretty solid extension to the Picasa picture management software.
To start with, when you get invited in to try it out you have to download a new version of the Picasa software. This one isn’t available on the main download site for Picasa just yet and is labeled as picasaweb-setup-beta. There are several updates to the software besides the new web album feature. The differences that I noticed immediately are:
- a tweaked GUI, they changed the fonts a bit, added the ability to caption the thumbnails, resize them
- There’s a geotag menu to tag pictures with Google Earth, or export to Google Earth files.
- There’s an Experimental menu with the options:
- Publish via FTP…
- Show Duplicate files
- Search For…
- Upload to Google Video
Of course there’s also this new button at the bottom for Web Album. If I select some pictures and click the button I get asked to sign into Web Albums using my Google Account. It gives me the option of adding the pictures to an album I already have created or creating a new one. There’s spaces there for Description and location information. There’s the option to specify if it will be publicly viewable or a private photo, and then there’s the ability to specify the size of the file to upload, including the option to upload it in high-res. Lastly it gives me a bit of information about how much space is available on the account. Press “Finished” and a upload manager opens and starts sending the files.
When I view the pictures online there’s a few nice Google touches. The interface is clean and simple and well organized. On my own photos I have the option of rotating them, or examining them in a magnified view (which if it doesn’t fit on the screen has a Google Maps like dragging ability) I can move pictures between albums easily, and change the ordering of them by dragging and dropping.
In the settings, there’s an RSS feed, the ability to allow people to download my albums onto their local machines using Picasa, and an easy to remember url for accessing my album online.
The killer part about this new Web Albums feature of Picasa is how well integrated it is. I can pop in my camera memory card, and have Picasa auto run and transfer all my files to my computer, and then quickly take the photos and publish them to the web.
The offering from Flickr is more full featured, but this Google version is just so much cleaner and easier to look at.
Try it out for yourself.