Personally, I thought this would have happened years ago, but they’ve finally done it – Google’s released their SmugMug killer🙂
I’ve got my account already and started to play with it – and I actually quite like it. I’ve only spent a few minutes with it (you can too, if you can’t get an account – here’s a sample account to play with, at least as a viewer). Unfortunately, I’m travelling and on my Mac, so I can’t play with the Picasa integration yet.
Anyway, the things I like about it:
- It’s very clean and simple. Pages aren’t cluttered with tons of crap, browsing is self-explanatory, and the interface revolves around the photos. Good job, Google.
- Slideshow resizes to your browser window. We do this too, and it’s really the only thing to do. The unique thing about Google’s approach, though, is they show you a lower-rez photo first, stretched to fit your screen, which looks shockingly bad at first. Then the sharp version pops in after Google’s servers are done resizing it. At first, this was sorta disconcerting, but now I’m warming up to the idea. You get a “out of focus” preview while the real deal loads (there’s no getting away from the loading time, there’s a few seconds of rendering time that just can’t be gotten rid of), and then when it does load, it almost looks *extra* sharp because you’d seen the “blurry” one first. Very interesting approach. I’d like to hear from our customers whether they like our approach better or worse (we show a loading pane on the first image, and then don’t flip to the next image until we’ve loaded it completely. Downside is seeing a loading pane, and also irregular slideshow switching times as images are resized).
- No ads! I was shocked to see this, but thrilled, too. People don’t want ads in their photo albums. They don’t go home and clip out newspaper ads and paste them into their physical photo albums. Shocking for Google not to do it, but good idea.
I don’t really have much negative to say about it – Google’s clearly attacking a different market than we are, and they’re doing it with simplicity. I was surprised to see that you only get 250MB (GMail gets GBs for free!), and for $25/year you get 6GB. For $40/year at SmugMug, you get unlimited storage, so this seems outta whack. Doesn’t Google run the largest datacenters in the world? I imagine that’ll change.
Welcome to the game, Google. 🙂