Google Retires Several Services Including Picasa for Linux and Patent Search

Google-DriveA few minutes back, Google finally stepped into the cloud storage solutions arena with the launch of Google Drive. Google’s absence in this segment was conspicuous because Google is known to have access to plenty of cheap storage, and it was already providing a massive amount of storage for various services like Gmail, Picasa, and Docs. However, the long delay in launching Drive is even more perplexing because Google isn’t exactly shy about launching new services. Over the past decade, its portfolio has expanded from search and advertising to a bewildering range of services such as Sketchup and Google Goggles. Of course, not everything from Google has been a hit. Some products like Wave were spectacular failures, while others like Lively fizzled away silently. In order to keep its house in order, Google is known to chuck away services that fail to gain traction from time to time. However, ever since taking over the mantle of CEO, Larry Page seems to have made it his mantra to streamline Google. Last week, Google announced the latest batch of services to get the chop.

Some of the services that Google is retiring are stuff that almost no one knew about anyways. The first of them is Google Flu Vaccine Finder. This is a Google Maps mashup that was created in 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic to help in identifying nearest vaccination places across the US. Google is now retiring this service and suggesting HealthMap Flu Vaccine Finder as a better alternative. Also being retired are Google Related (an extension that suggested content related to the website you are currently browsing), One Pass (payment platform for online news publishers), and Google Sync for Blackberry. Google Patent Search is being sunset as Google has already incorporated this feature into the main search engine.

Among the popular products that have been affected include Picasa and Talk. Google will no longer support Picasa for Linux, Picasa Web Albums Uploader for Mac, and Picasa Web Albums Plugin for iPhoto. Google Talk mobile web app is being shuttered as Google recommends using native Android app or any compatible XMPP chatting app.

So You Want to Kick the Google Habit? [Editorial]



Google Everywhere

It is hard to go online today without touching one or more Google products or services. If it is not search, it may be email, YouTube, Blogger, Picasa, Docs, or Calendar. Google has truly blanketed us with their web-based app offerings. Heck, even the Google Doodle is a conversation topic!

In this editorial, I shall discuss how you can kick the Google habit, what I am using now as alternatives and why you probably won’t be able to replace certain Google products today. Ready to move away from Google? First, some background.

Why un-Google?

Some of the reasons I personally decided to look for alternatives:

  • Google became a part of virtually everything I did online. I used GMail, Google Reader, Google Finance, Blogger, Picasa, Picasa Web, Google Docs, Google Search, Google Calendar and Google Maps. I felt uncomfortable putting such a large portion of my online life in Google’s hands.
  • Google morphed from the cool little startup building fun stuff for consumers, to a dominant public company whose revenues essentially came from just one product. That’s the key most (96%) of its revenues (and profits) came from search advertising. In other words, it needed other ways to make money. The most obvious way to do so would be to extend the arm of advertising, their main revenue-generating product, into other products. I realized I was the merchandise.
  • Google seemed to get Apple and Facebook envy. Apple was growing rapidly across all their product lines and at very high profit margins, and Facebook was taking eyeballs and key talent away from Google. This led to some bad attempts to mock Apple and Facebook publicly, which of course delighted the Google developer and enthusiast community but came off as being negative to me. If you make a great product, you don’t need a negative campaign.
  • Aside from philosophy, some of the competing products started becoming better, and Google’s products started getting worse (more on that within my descriptions) prompting me to start Project Un-Google which was an effort to use fewer and fewer Google products, hopefully reaching a point where I did not depend on any Google product at all.

Whether it is for philosophy, or hedging your web app bets, it is good to know there is life outside Google when it comes to products and services online and offline. There is usually a strong resistance to change, especially if you have a long history with a product. There is a high cost for transferring the old stuff, and learning your way around a new product/service. However, these challenges are not insurmountable, and I hope you take a look at some or all of the products I list here as an alternative to Google. If you have ideas of other products I may not have mentioned, please let me know!

Popular Google products

Here are some of the Google products/services I will be comparing to competition:

  • Search
  • Picasa
  • GMail
  • Calendar
  • Documents
  • Groups
  • Finance
  • Blogger
  • Chrome
  • Maps/Directions
  • Talk/Chat/Voice

I realize Google has many more products, appsand services, but I did not look at products like Book Search which are very niche. My attempt here is to look at the commonly used products and services only.

Google to Drop Picasa and Blogger Brands in Wake of Google+

If you are an active user of Google’s Picasa photo management tools or their Blogger blogging platform, you should prepare yourself for a change. News has broken that Google intends to drop those names from the products. This move is part of the Google+ service, which seems to be leading to a rebranding of Google’s web based tools.

Blogger and Picasa will not be shut down, however. The two service are among the most popular for the internet giant. They will simply be renamed to “Google Blogs” and “Google Photos” respectively. It is rumored that these two are the first of many services to get the Google rebranding treatment. Sources indicate that YouTube will not be changed.

The total rebranding is due to take place over the next six weeks. This time table will likely align with the full public roll out of Google+, which is rumored to be by the end of this month. Its important to keep that date in mind, as it will be the day when private Google profiles are deleted.

The combination of these service with Google+ makes sense. While Google+ has a photo service already, it is easy to notice that it is integrated with Picasa and Picasa’s technology. The Instant Upload feature of the Google+ Android application uploads to Google+ and Picasa simultaneously. It would make sense to drop the branding and combine the two parts officially.

If you want some sort of proof for this pending rebranding, simply look at the screenshot above. Across the top navigation bar, you will see a link that reads Photos. Clicking it takes you to Picasa Web, the web based portal for Picasa. If that doesn’t convince you, then I don’t know what will.


Google Offers Virtually Unlimited Storage on Picasa Web Albums for Google+ Users

Google-PlusOne of the many awesome features of Google+ is that its Android app automatically and instantly uploads any new picture or video that you capture. Google rightly points out that “taking photos is fun, sharing photos is fun, but getting photos off your phone and on to the web is pretty much the opposite of fun”. Now Google+ takes over the responsibility of uploading media for Android devices. Earlier Microsoft and Apple had announced similar features for Windows Phone and iOS.

Google Plus is tightly integrated with Picasa Web Albums, and it leverages Picasa for all media uploads. Unfortunately, Picasa offers only 1 GB of storage for free, and has a tiered pricing plan for folks requiring more. One major concern among Google+ early adopters was that they were going to run out of space sooner or later. Obviously, 1 GB is nowhere near enough for most users. These days, even smartphones are capable of capturing HD Videos that alone can gobble up gigabytes of storage. Thankfully, Google has realized this, and has decided to offer virtually unlimited storage on Picasa to Google+ users.

Hawk eyed readers might be wondering exactly what “virtually unlimited” storage is supposed to mean. Well, Google isn’t exactly offering unlimited storage on Picasa. It is still offering 1 GB only for free users. However, photos up to 2048 x 2048 pixels and videos up to 15 minutes won’t count towards that storage quota for Google+ users. Even better, the Google+ mobile application automatically resizes your photos to 2048 pixels (on their longest edge) to ensure that your uploads don’t count towards the storage quota. If you don’t use Google+, then the maximum resolution permitted is 800 x 800. You can still upload videos that are up to 15 minutes long. Once you exceed your storage quota, Google will automatically resize all new uploads, unless you upgrade to a higher storage plan.

Google Docs, Maps and Photos Attachments for Gmail Soon

has grown leaps and bounds since it was launched and there are several features like Priority Inbox which make using Gmail’s web interface much more fun. However, I am not sure when Gmail will stop it’s innovations in the webmail platform.

Google Docs, Maps, Calendar, Photos Attachment for Gmail

In a recent post on Google OS, Alex Chitu posted a screenshot which has , Google Maps, Google Photo/Picasa integration along with an option to attach an invitation from , which already exists.

This new attachment integration will definitely make things more easier for users who prefer to use Google services rather than desktop solutions or even convert more users to use Google Docs and other services for ease of use, as a user will always store content on the cloud and can access it from practically any computer.

The introduction of this feature would also make Gmail one of the first webmail interface to work almost similar to Microsoft Outlook.

Google is also trying to add more tighter integration between all it’s products. For example, earlier last month, Google had introduced a feature that would allow users to search their Google documents in Gmail. Features like these make Gmail a one-stop place for common things that are part of our day to day life.

There is no official announcement as to when users will be able to start sending Google Docs, Map and Photos as attachments yet, however, you can expect these to be rolled out in the next few weeks.

Create a Custom Album From Facebook, Flickr and Picasa Photos

Our digital life is scattered over many platforms. This is specially true when it comes to photos; some are on Facebook, some are on Picasa and some of them are on a hard drive. Pixable is a great web app that lets you create custom albums by combining photos from Facebook, Flickr, Picasa and your computer.

Once you sign in to Pixable with your Facebook account, it will show you all your Facebook albums and even photos of your friends that are publicly available. You don’t have to select complete albums, you can just pick and choose the photos you want. Similarly, you can select photos from your Flickr and Picasa account and also upload images from your hard drive.

You can also choose a theme for your album, such as Christmas or floral, and invite other Facebook users to contribute to your album. Once created, you can save your album to Pixable, share it with your friends on Facebook, email it to your friends, post it to your Facebook feeds or even order a physical album for a very low price.

Pixable can also be used to create photobook calendars. Right now Pixable is offering a lot of amazing Christmas themes for albums and calendars.

Buy Picasa Web Storage and Get 4GB SDHC Eye-Fi Card Free

In order to get more and more users to buy additional web storage on Picasa, Google has come up with an irresistible deal. If you buy 200GB storage space, which costs $50, you will get a free 4GB SDHC Eye-Fi card worth $95.


The Eye-Fi card lets you wirelessly upload photos and videos directly to Picasa Web Albums or to your computer. It even includes automatic geotagging, so you’ll know exactly where your pictures were taken.

Right now rules the roost when it comes to photo-sharing and storage. Google Picasa is also pretty famous, however it still has a lot of market to capture.

Will you buy extra storage space to get a free memory card for your camera?

Picasa & Eye-Fi Deal [via Official Google Blog]

How to Download Entire Public Picasa Web Albums from Desktop

Picasa is one of the best image management application that I have seen. It’s packed with some very useful features like: identifying faces, name tags, collage creator etc. We have earlier covered how to download or import Picasa web albums in your computer. Now here is a nifty utility that lets you download public Picasa web albums of any user in your desktop.

Download Picasa downloader (1.04 mb).

How to use Picasa downloader

Picasa Downloader works even if Picasa isn’t installed in your system. Following are the steps involved to download public web albums from Picasa:

1. Start the application and enter the Picasa username in the UserIDfield.

2. Hit list and the application will load all the public albums of the user.


3. Select the albums to download and hit the download button.

That’s it. All the selected albums will be downloaded in the default Picasa Downloader folder (default is: C >Users > username > Pictures > PicasaDownloaded.

The only downside is that you can not change the location of the directory where the pictures are downloaded.

Techie-Buzz Verdict

The application works fine but it’s very basic. I would like to see more features such as: viewing thumbnails of photos, changing the download location etc. Works perfectly in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Techie-Buzz rating: 3/5(average)

Picasa 3.5 Includes Name tags and Geo Tagging with Google Maps integration.

Google has released a new version of Picasa their free photo management and image editing software which includes new features such as name tagging and geo tagging.


After you download and install the new version of Picasa it will start scanning photos and create groups of similar faces. Once done you can access all the pictures under a group called Unnamed People and start adding name tags to sets of photos.

In addition to that it will also auto-complete the names if you are signed in to your Google account. In future whenever Picasa scans new photos it will automatically suggest you names for it.


If you take pictures in various locations there is some more good news. Picasa now also includes Google maps integration which will allow you to easily geo tag your photos. You can also continue to Geo tag your photos using Google Earth.

To make tag management better, Picasa 3.5 also includes a quick tag functionality to quickly access tagged photos.

There are also improvements in the Picasa web album uploader where you can select to upload only starred items from imported photos without having to select individual photos.

Watch a video featuring the latest features in Picasa 3.5.

Find out more about the new features in Picasa 3.5.

Download Picasa 3.5 [via Official Google Photos Blog]

Upload Photos From Picasa To Facebook

I use Picasa desktop tool to keep my photos organized and upload them to Picasa Web albums, however I use too pretty often and was looking for a tool to upload photos from Picasa directly to Facebook.

There are a few different ways to upload photos to Facebook one is a Facebook photo uploader and another is a plugin to upload images to Facebook from Windows Live Gallery, however if you are a Picasa user there is another tool called Picasa Uploader which will allow you to upload images from Picasa directly to Facebook.

To upload images from Picasa to Facebook, follow the steps given below.

Step 1: Download the Picasa uploader application, you will be prompted to launch the Picasa application when you click on the download link.


Step 2: Add the Facebook Button to Picasa by clicking on the Add button.

Step 3: Follow the steps to authorize the application to access Facebook.


Step 4: Select the photos you want to upload to Facebook, and click on the Facebook button from the bottom of the screen.


Step 5: A new window will open up, if you have already authorized access to Facebook, you will see a screen where you can add information about the album.


When the albums are uploaded you will have to personally login to Facebook and approve the uploaded photos, if you do not want to that everytime, just click on the enabling extended access, clicking on this link will show you a screen to authorize the application to upload photos.


If you do not authorize the application to upload photos you will have to login to Facebook and go to your photos and then approve the images.

On the other hand if you allowed the application to upload photos to Facebook, it will show up in your albums.

Pretty easy right, this is definitely a great tool for Picasa users who also use Facebook and will definitely save them a lot of time.