Google are pushing out Picasa version 3.8, if you don’t have it already you should get it soon (or use this link)
Most of the new features are really in Picasa Web album. This on-line album becoming the quiet giant in the web photoworld. You can do a mirad of things withy your album, from uploading directly from your phone, any camera and computer to sharing your photos with friend and relatives, via email, blogs and the main social networks like facebook and twitter. Ok there are many other competitors but I think the combination of well thought out security (keeping the private, private) and its collaborative features (sharing with other you allow to also upload to your album) and the batch uploads and download will cement its position as the best choice as well as a reliable free service.
A while ago google bought Picnik, a nice web-based photo editor. I have written about picnik previously and think it shines against the competition being much easier to use. In your picasa web album you will now see a new little edit button which bring up a flash window. It has two tabs. A fairly conventional Edit Tab with all the standard tools. The a Create Tab which provides a wide range of neat, albeit slightly kitschy, tools like fancy frames, filters and strickers. I’m sure these will be very popular with younger photographers. There really are enough functions between these new picnic features and the basic offered by picasa to make fancy photoeditors like Photoshop and lightroom unnecessary for most folk.
One nice little gems that google/picasa did not mentions bin their update notes is the swivel view feature that is actually included in the embeddable slide shows for blogs like this (see my example below)
Move your mouse across the image from left to right and you will travel around the chainsaw artist as I did when I took the photos. Not quiet a photosynth but this can be fun all the same and extremely easy to create. It doesn’t even have to be used for the swivel concept, or a walk around, you could have a lot of fun with “interactive movies” where the flow of photos is important (eg sequence from a party, one person growing up). It also still works fine as a slideshow.
Picasa are also plugging the “face movie” idea on Picasa Web Album which now uses the same face-matching technology already in Picasa. So you can create a movie centered around one person morphing from one image to another centered on their eyes. Again plenty of fun to be had.