Friday, June 5, 2009

Facebook vs. Google's Picasa

I've found myself making the switch from posting pictures on Facebook to using Google's Picasa service. Why? A few reasons:

1) No limit to number of photos in an album.

2) You can download higher quality versions of the photos, instead of the single reduced-quality image Facebook provides.

3) Easier to share photos, even with people who don't have Google accounts (my mom even did our family's Christmas card online with Picasa this year...all by herself. THAT'S shocking).

4) Online slideshows.

5) The new people-tagging functionality. Check it out here:

This last one is the most impressive, and if you haven't used Picasa to post photos recently, you probably haven't experienced this. Here's what happens: You tell Picasa to analyze all of your albums. After it's done, it presents you with a filmstrip of all of the thumbnail-size faces that it recognized from those photos. It attempts (relatively successfully) to group shots of the same person together, so with one click you can tag the same person in a dozen photos. It learns who the people's names are and makes suggestions, and when it gets it wrong, you can do a quick search (just the first few letters of the person's name can find it in your address book).

I had about 1,300 faces and was able to take care of a few hundred relatively quickly, but finishing it off is a daunting task, especially as you have to start doing one at a time. Despite this, Picasa's ability to recognize faces was seriously impressive, and introduces a whole to approach to tagging people. You can also also do it in the album itself, and if you've already let Picasa analyze the album, it has usually found where the faces are and makes tagging in the picture environment super-easy as well.

Facebook "killer"? Who knows, I'm sure there's lots of talk about that somewhere else. But compared to the daunting task of Facebook tagging, this method rocks. And overall, Google's doing a REALLY nice job of streamlining online photo management. You can even tag locations on a little Google Map.

If you're the kind of person that posts photos on Facebook so EVERYONE can see them, then you lose out on the accessibility of clicking that little "See more photos of [insert stalkee here]." But if you're posting photos for a select group of people and don't necessarily need the whole world to see—which is how I'm feeling recently—then Picasa is probably the way to go.

Of course, I'm sure there are ways to get the best of both worlds (posting one photo from the album on Facebook with link to the Picasa version, a link in a Status Update, a link in your profile, etc etc etc.), I just haven't investigated........yet.

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