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Welcome, Google

June 14, 2006

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.
  • JavaScript/AJAX-based image browsing with image pre-loading for speed. We’ve got this in testing right now for SmugMug, and it’s really great. The downside is the URLs get a little uglier, but I think everyone can agree the speed tradeoff is worth it.
  • 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. 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. June 14, 2006 at 5:41 pm

    what’s the deal with flock? Is there any value there for sumgmug users?

  2. J-Mac
    August 2, 2006 at 7:21 am

    I installed this beta initially but ended up uninstalling it shortly thereafter. This release is a Roxio Easy Media Creator 8 killer – at least the Drag-to-Disc feature of that version of Roxio is ruined after installing this Picasa beta. I wrote Google and while at first they disavowed any knowledge of this, they subsequently notified me that yes, the DVD burning feature of this beta version conflicts badly with and effectively disables some features of Roxio EMC8. Not a good thing! Especially since they (Google) have not acknowledged this publicly, and users downloading it still will not know about the conflict until they install it and then try to run Roxio EMC8. Google seems to feel that their users are more interested in the ability to burn DVD’s with Picasa 2.5 than using Roxio EMC8.

    Well, that’s not good enough for me – I’ve uninstalled it completely – though that did not return Roxio EMC8 to a working status.

  3. August 15, 2006 at 1:52 pm

    my thoughts are that the google web albums provide a simple and smooth interface that is more intuitive than smugmug. I love smugmug for it’s rich feature set and not going anywhere. I think is what smugmug needs is a “simple” mode that is completely uncluttered with super fast image presentation.

  4. Heinz Eriksson
    August 23, 2006 at 10:28 pm

    I agree with most of the above. I have Smugmug and Picasaweb.
    I would easily be prepared to pay the double of Smugmug price to get:
    The simplicity , basicness , navigation speed of Picasaweb and unlimited
    storage of Smugmug. The open API so that I can do my own scripting
    to Smugmug is very useful to me but probably not directly to the average
    user. (sm_tool.py python which enable me to mirror two Picasa
    album sets on one Smugmug account automatically).

  5. Charlie Jordan
    February 22, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Safari users can view photos on Google's Picasaweb, but not on Smugmug. Firefox usually works, but not always. Love the Smugmug features, but if my friends can't view my photos there's really no point in continuing down the SM path.

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