Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Picasa 2 Goes From Beta To Live, Gets Numerous Fixes, Now Supports RAW Files, Geotagging

Google announced today that Picasa 2 with Web Albums has just left beta stage and is now live. I was one of the early beta testers of this software and am glad to see the reports of all of the improvements based on my and others' feedback. (As a cross-platform computer user, I find the fact that Picasa is still not Mac-friendly to be truly bizarre.) Fixes and additions include:

  • Nested folder viewing
  • Saving to disk
  • Additional importing options
  • Geotagging for Google Earth
  • RAW format support (probably the most requested feature by digital photographers)
and check out one of the last of the nine items listed in their release notes:
Larger Thumbnails: Our thumbnails are slightly larger, so images are clearer, and we've improved speed as well. You will notice Picasa updating all of your thumbnails after the upgrade.
This is the bug I reported way back in June and blogged about here, here, and here, got a quick response from Michael Herf on the Google Groups forum about, and then heard and saw nothing more on until this release. I was afraid this thread might have gotten dropped, because the bug hasn't gotten much attention elsewhere, but severely impacted your browsing experience in Picasa 2. I had thought with a web service it would make sense to roll out changes incrementally (especially bug fixes), but in hindsight I guess the big push is more valuable, at least from a PR standpoint. It gets Picasa back in the limelight for a moment and makes headlines that speak to those who were either unimpressed with the software before, hadn't tried it yet, or were waiting for some fix or other.

Unless Google is prepared to do some advertising beyond AdWords, however, this may also be a case that demonstrates how a beta version can harm your polished release - there were a lot of bugs in software that was entering a very competitive space against software that has very loyal users, and the buzz it generated was overwhelmingly negative.

I am looking forward to playing with this improved software. Since so few new products have come out of beta from Google, it will also be interesting to see how many new bugs this release holds - let's hope it's very few!

Click here for the Picasa 2 Release Notes. Click here to download Picasa 2 with Web Albums.

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