By ALEX FRUIN
As much as people (and competing companies) don’t want to admit it — Google is a powerhouse organization that is rivaled by only a few strong search engines like Yahoo! and its affiliates. While most Internet users may think of Google as only a search engine, others have dabbled further into the depths of the Internet community, taking advantage of the free email, voice and video chats, book library, and scholarly research. After extensively researching the website, it’s pretty clear that the company is trying to create a platform that appeals to just about every internet user and is on the way to fulfilling that goal.
Even if you only use the basic Google search engine, chances are you’ve come across Google Images. Yet, it seems that not nearly as many people have come across Picasa, Google’s answer to websites such as Shutterfly or Snapfish. Unlike these sites, there is no need to create a new account — as long as you have a Google login (i.e., a Gmail or iGoogle account). Once logged in, Picasa allows you the flexibility of creating public or private albums, allowing you to share your favorite photos with your friends and family—or the world wide web.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Picasa however, is a new concept that appears to be unrivaled among other photo uploading sites. By combining the powers of Picasa, Google Earth, and Google Maps, it is possible to place “geo-tags” to your photos so that you can remember the exact location where you took the photo — even if it’s halfway around the world! Depending on the privacy settings you have set, these photos could be for your eyes only or could aid other people who are looking up the location where your photo was taken.
While it is not completely necessary depending on your photography needs, the newest version of Picasa, version 3.8, is a desktop download where you can edit and organize your photos and eventually post away online (by uploading, emailing, adding them to your blog or website, etc.). The newest and perhaps most exciting feature of the new version of the desktop program is the facial verification. Once you have allowed Picasa to search your files to find the photos on your hard drive, it will allow you to sort through and “Tag” the faces in your photos. Eventually, it will come to recognize the faces so that you won’t have to go through and figure out the individuals in each photo.
Picasa certainly rivals the photo uploading websites that have been popular in the last few years, yet combined with the rest of the capabilities of Google, it has the potential not only to become a huge success but to also be quite helpful for photojournalists.