Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What is the future of Picasa?

I have been waiting a while now for Google to announce the shelving of Picasa, dreading the announcement is probably be a more accurate description. I’m pretty sure that there will ongoing support the uploading of photos, because there are just so many users. However it is likely that the web side of things  will become rebranded as Google+ Photo (I don’t have a source for such a rumour but its pretty much openly discussed and there is already a thing, code named pulsar, see the last paragraph).
If you hadn’t already noticed (and I can not find any official notification) your picasa web album is being “redirected” to an equivalent Google+ album. The google album layout is different and much “cleaner” but you will loose a few nice features, like number of views counter (not available in google+ photo view), being able to select the way you licence the sharing of your photo (ie full copyright or one of the creative commons licences, are not displayed under the google+ photo view) and the ability to share with someone else by email (this is replaced by sharing to your circles in google+ photo).
At the moment you can review your photos under both the picasa web album format and google+ format,  I’m fairly convinced that the photos are in the same location it is just the way you view them that differs. Alternatively if you use chrome, there is still a free picasa chrome app on the google web store that will show your on-line photos in the older picasa web album format. Finally if you view your on-line album via the following link they will also be in the older picasa web album format.
The first downside of the revised google+ approach is that anything you share with others can be tagged by them and further shared.  You do get notification of any tagging but not the sharing. Unfortunately this is basic social network behaviour, most other social web services do the same BUT this really negates the idea of being able to confidently share a photo in private, as many celebrities have found out the hard way. So if you are worried about privacy just don’t share your photos using any social networking tools (facebook especially, but twitter & google+ included).
imageThe second downside from my perspective relates to the terms of reuse of the photo, which had its own little display and dialogue area at the lower left beside the photo in the Picasa web album view. Whilst the google+ photo view shows nothing, and I suspect most social network users will then just assume if you share a photo it can be reused. So here is another warning if you are worried about copyright of your work, don’t share your photos using any social networking tools.
There is one clear upside to working through google+ photos, it will instantly increase your storage capacity, by default it resizes and uploads at a 2048pixel width. For this size and smaller your storage is free.
I’ve had a look at some screen shots of a candidate for an upcoming google+ photos app for chrome (aka Pulsar), Thanks to +Francois Beaufort for the details of how to get it. I did try downloading the code but got lost in the java script errors. So I’ll have to wait. Looking at the screen captures of the interface, its looks very clean and simple but oriented to storing your photos on-line.  I am not sure that automatically upload all or “your best” images to the net is what the current picasa users really want. They probably are happy with a desktop application that does a good job of managing their precious photos (privately on their own computer). By the way, you can still (at the time of writing this)download the PC version picasa for free.

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