Google Adds Faces, Places Features to Picasa
Yesterday, Google shipped a new version of Picasa, its photo organizer and editor. Picasa 3.5, a free download for Windows XP or newer and Mac OS X 10.4.9 or newer, adds a name-tagging feature formerly reserved for Google's Picasa Web Albums site and improves the old version's geo-taggging option.
Like iPhoto's Faces capability, Picasa's name-tagging option suffers from the usual limits of computer-driven facial recognition. While it recognized most photos of me taken from reasonably close up, it seemed to get confused by pictures in which I was wearing sunglasses or headgear of any sort. Picasa 3.5 will offer to link these tagged pictures to your Google Contacts, which may be more Google integration than you prefer.
Picasa's geotagging can be a bit more straightforward than iPhoto's: click the "Places" tab at the bottom right corner of Picasa's window, a Google map opens up in one frame of the window, search for a location, and adjust the push-pin icon and click an "OK" button to set the tag.
But if you click the "Geo-Tag" icon in the Windows version of Picasa, you'll instead launch Google Earth and find yourself invited to tag the photo in that separate application. If you don't have Google Earth installed, you'll be prompted to do so -- and the setup file Google's site provides will install Google's Chrome browser alongside it. Very cute, Google. Really.
Other new features aim to ease categorizing and uploading your photos. Have you tried out Picasa 3.5? If so, please share your thoughts about it in the comments.
I may or may not devote a column to this update and other photo-album applications for Windows. First, though, I'd like to get some sense of what photo software you use: Take the poll below, then explain your choice in a comment.
September 23, 2009; 1:24 PM ET
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