Picasa Web Albums Review

Google launched Picasa Web Albums this morning. An invite-only service for the time being, it is basically a photo sharing site on par with Flickr, minus all the social networking, tagging, etc.

I will say that I haven’t had any reason to use Picasa. All of my photos are stored on my MacBookPro, and I use iPhoto and the most excellent FlickrExport plugin to share those photos via my Flickr account.

At first, I thought you actually had to be a Picasa user (on the PC) to use the service, but I was able to upload photos from my Mac without any problem. I was under the impression that this would be a service tied into Google’s Picasa application. That doesn’t seem to be the case.

A few things I have seen that I am not fond of. First of all, it appears that it will only support JPEG formatted images. I tried uploading GIF and PNG images, and was given a warning that the image was not a valid JPEG. With Flickr, I can upload PNG, GIF and JPEG, which is nice since my screenshots are saved as PNG.

There was also no upload progress indicator. I uploaded two photos and the only way I knew anything was happening was seeing the progress icon on my browser spinning. It also doesn’t look like you can upload a photo without creating an album for it. I also wasn’t able to describe or title the image immediately after the upload.

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Aside from those minor issues, it was pretty easy to set up the album and upload the photos. It has a pretty good interface, showing your storage capacity used and available. It will let you rotate images to correctly display their orientation, resize the thumbnails and rearrange the order the photos appear in the album.

You can send invitations via e-mail to those you want to share your album with. For a visitor looking at the gallery, they can view the images in a full-browser slideshow, zoom in on them, and subscribe to an RSS feed for the entire gallery or for specific albums.

So there you have it. If you want to try out the Picasa Web Albums, you can go to the service’s website and sign up for an invitation. You can also download the Picasa application if you are on a PC and use it (I assume) to send images directly to your web album.

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