Many Windows users have been running Picasa 3 for the past several weeks now, but Picasa development for Linux has always seemly lagged behind.This all changed on Thursday with a public beta release of Picasa 3 with support for all the major Linux distributions. According to the feature overview, the new version includes many of the new editing and retouching features missing in the previous version as well as a tighter integration with Picasa Web. For Linux users looking to further automate the process of importing photos you will also appreciate the auto detect feature that runs each time you plug in your camera. In a blog post by Google Software Engineer Lei Zhang he reminds the Linux community of Google’s commitment to their platform. Some of its largest contributions have been in the form of patches for the open source WINE project with over 2700 fixes. WINE (Wine Is Not an Emulator) is an application for Linux which allows users to execute programs written for Microsoft Windows. Want to learn more? Check out the November print edition of Maximum PC on sale now for an excellent how to guide on using WINE for gaming in Linux.
This week, Google unveiled a public beta of its Picasa 3.0 photo-sharing software. Picasa 3.0 offers a huge number of new and improved features that will appeal to both point and shoot and DSLR users. I was particularly impressed by the following:
A new photo viewer that integrates with Windows Explorer and supports PNG, TGA and RAW formats as well as JPEG, TIFF, BMP, and GIF. The preview window displays thumbnails of other photos in the folder for faster navigation and offers one-click editing in Picasa, one-click uploading, or a one-click slideshow. Even on my less than swift single-core laptop, it displays Canon CR2 RAW files much faster than Windows Live Photo Gallery does. Google tested Picasa 3.0 on systems with up to 1 million photos, and it shows.
The ability to display image metadata for RAW files from within Picasa.
The enhanced photo collage creator with six preset designs along with easy drag and drop repositioning and image rotation. It's so good that I wonder if Microsoft Research's new AutoCollage 2008 (which costs $19.95) can compete.
Improved photo editing tools such as the retouching tool (good for removing scratches and dust) and the tuning tool, which features highlight, shadow, fill light, color picker, and color temperature controls. If you don't want to learn (or pay for) Adobe Photoshop Elements, you can do quite well in fixing less-than-perfect photos.
To see the photo viewer in action, and to find out where to learn more (or just get your hands on Picasa 3.0), join us after the jump.