Inevitable? I really hope not!

Google Photos IconBack in November I posted on the inadequacies of the new Google Photos offering. Since then there have been a few improvements and some of the things that I was unhappy about then can be circumvented by adopting the “View on Web” approach, such as commenting on individual photos in albums.

However last week, perhaps the announcement that I had feared would one day come was made. Google are “retiring” Picasa and Picasa Web Albums. Let’s not focus on the suggestion that this is a forward-looking development – they use the phrase “moving on” to announce the killing-off of a much-loved friend – let’s just pause to reflect upon what this actually means for anyone who invests time and effort into using “free” infrastructure, provided by a large corporate. The significance of this announcement and others recently from Oxygen Cloud and Copy (Barracuda/Seagate) are that one should be very careful in choosing what IT cloud infrastructure you decide to use and also, and more importantly, be very mindful of what you should do if that infrastructure is taken away from you.

Now this “event” may turn out all right in the end. Google may actually make an API available for developers to upload images directly into Google Photos in the same way as Jeffrey Friedl did to allow photos to be uploaded from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to Picasaweb. And yes, nothing has been lost in this case as all my Picasaweb photos and albums do appear in Google Photos. And yes, I can upload to Google Drive to the Google Photos folder, but somehow, as yet, it’s not as clean and straightforward a way of uploading the images to the cloud for onward sharing, as it had been.

Perhaps, I ought to use Apple’s iCloud – after all as I have a nearly 100% Apple IT ecosystem my investment should be safe there … shouldn’t it?. Or alternatively, perhaps I ought to use Adobe’s Creative Cloud storage – after all as I rely so heavily on their software – they’ll look after me … won’t they?

It’s just events like these that make me wonder whether I want to be reliant on a large corporate and ponder on whether there’s another way, and perhaps there might be … watch this space.

What’s the future for Picasaweb?

Picasa Web Albums LogoYesterday’s post got me thinking. I did mention in it that I thought that the future of Picasaweb was not guaranteed, and we all know that Google has a pretty brutal history of closing products that do not fit its strategy and business – remember Google Reader, Buzz and others.

In the same post I mentioned Google’s decision to split Google+ into Streams and Photos – Hangouts having already effectively been spun-out. So the scene is being set for the demise of Picasaweb I feel.

Already a new user can’t choose to use Picasaweb as a storage and share platform; that ability was taken away some time ago, so no new users are being added to Picasaweb – they are directed to join Google+. Also if as an existing user you try and get to Picasaweb you are redirected to Google+ Photos. A rather useful tutorial on the way Google has engineered this change and how to get back to using Picasaweb is provided here.

Currently users of Google Drive and Google+ Photos are having their photos “added” to their Google Drive. These users have already “silently” had their photos on Picasaweb merged with Google+ Photos. So … soon (it’ll take a while) all my Picasaweb albums will be available on my Google Drive in a Google Photos folder. When this migration has completed for all users, what are the odds then on Picasaweb being given closure notice?

All remaining users of Picasaweb will then be invited (ie requested, or demanded on pain of losing their images) to sign-up to Google Drive (not necessarily Google+ I suspect), get all its exciting additional features and voila their Picasaweb photos will be there in a Google Photos folder. [Incidentally they’ll have to provide some engineering to prevent Picasaweb photos on Google Photos being re-synced back to the desktop where they came from – I’m going to watch how they do this with interest!]

As Picasaweb is closed to new users using it and the Picasa desktop app points at G+ Photos already, not Picasaweb, this is the logical next step.