Picasa web albums is a strange beast. Launched in beta over a year ago it seemed all geared up to take on Flickr. That didn’t happen and so far there has been no real move to wards making picasa the social web experience that is flickr’s power. Instead Google seem content to allow picasa web albums as a backup storage for photographs with the ability to share with other people(it is also used as a storage medium to power images hosted on blogs like this one.)
Today google announced that they have added geotag support in Picasa.
For the uninitiated geotagging involves assigning a geographic co-ordinate to an image. It has been around for a long time, the military been a big user, but support has grown is recent years. The biggest impact was the release of Google maps/Earth which allowed a user to find the co-ordinates of the given location. This was then extended by the Google API plugin that allowed people to pull down the co-ordinates of that location and apply in in various ways to images, either adding the co-ordinates in the EXIF of the digital image or as tags on the flickr page hosting the image.
Last August Flickr added integrated support for image geolocation, using yahoo maps instead of google maps which has introduced geotagging to the masses. However the more discerning geotaggers are not too fond of yahoo maps and still geotag using google maps.
It is surprising that picasa web albums took so long to added geo location support. Especially since the picasa tools, picasa2 (very confusing) has had geotag support, using google earth for a while. However they might have been playing the long game on this one as in the same release they also announced mobile support for picasa web albums. With phones beginning to come with GPS as standard (now that cameras are de-facto and places like Europe are demanding that phones have GPS) all images will be geotagged in the future so the requirement to physically place a image in space will no longer fall to the user any more.
This means uploaded images to picasa web albums will be in the correct locations and the user will be able to see where the images were taken. This could be very helpful to travelers on exotic holidays. It’s easy to tag images where you are from as you more than likely know the locations intimately it is not easy if you were taken through the depths of asia.