Google’s online image editor, Picasa, has yet again been updated. The new 3.8 version of Picasa is yet another small stride towards an all-in-one photo organization and editing suite. It includes one major new feature – integration with Picnik, an online photo editing application.
But that isn’t all. Other new features make it easier than ever before to upload photos to Picasa web albums and gather EXIF data from photos. Then there is the new “face movie” feature which, despite the odd name, is fun to use.
Integration With Picnik
Picnik, an online photo editing site that has been around since 2007, was purchased by Google in March of this year. The folks at Google don’t seem to waste much time, as Picasa 3.8’s biggest addition (at least in my opinion) is the ability to edit pictures with Picnik.
This is integrated seamlessly. If you find a picture in Picasa that you’d like to edit, you simply right-click it and then choose Edit in Picnik from the toolbar on the left side of the Picasa window. This open Picnik in Picasa itself. You don’t need to register a new account to edit or save the photo, and photos saved in Picnik can save directly to your hard drive, a process that only takes a few seconds.
Picnik in Picasa 3.8 has some overlap with the editing functions that already exist in Picasa. The functions that overlap include Crop and Red Eye. The Exposure, Colors and Sharpen functions overlap somewhat – their basic functionality is already in Picasa, but the Picnik versions seem to produce slightly different results in some photos.
New functions include Rotate, Resize and Picnik’s one-click Auto-fix. Resize was previously possible, but only through a clunky process that involved exporting a picture.
Another cool feature that has been added in Picasa 3.8 is the addition of “face movies.” The name actually explains the concept fairly well – a face movie is a picture slideshow that is centered on someone’s face. All the photos featuring that person are displayed and oriented so that the person’s face is front and center. Google describes this as a good way to make a presentation for a birthday or wedding when you’re in a bind (i.e. you forgot). So, slackers, listen up!
You first need the Picasa client to identify the person you want to make a movie of. You can do this by having an album of their photos open and then opening the People tab by clicking on the small icon of a person in the lower right hand corner. Name the person whose face Picasa has identified to create the album, which will appear under the people section of the organization tab on the left side of Picasa.
Open the person’s album and then click the Create Face Movie icon beside the thumbnail of the person’s face. Picasa will create a movie automatically, but you can adjust the transitions, add an audio track, and make other minor changes.
Those Other Additions
Finally we come to the two least interesting additions – although to a few users they may be very, very important.
The first is the ability to do batch uploads to Picasa web albums from the Picasa client. The batch upload option is found under the Tools menu. You can simply select the albums that you want to upload to web albums by checking them. You can also decide the size at which they should be uploaded, who can view them, and the sync status. Once you’ve picked what you’d like to upload you only need to click the OK button – and off they go into the cloud!
The final new feature is the properties panel. This panel opens on the right side of the Picasa client when you click the properties tab, a small information icon located in the bottom right of the client. The properties panel shows EXIF picture data like photo date, the camera used to take the photo, the focal length and more.
These updates to Picasa simply serve to further refine the client. The addition of Picnik is exciting not only because of what it adds now but also because of what it might add in the future. We’re getting close to Picasa 4.0, and refinements to Picnik for the 4.0 release would certainly make sense. Of course, Google might have some other tricks up its sleeve that we don’t know about yet.