Picasa Web Adds HTTPS Support

Picasa Web Albums was one of the few Google apps that didn’t support encrypted connections. Now you can go to the secure version at https://picasaweb.google.com to make sure that no one can intercept your requests. This is especially helpful if you use an unsecured WiFi connection.

Google Chrome says that Picasa Web Albums includes some resources that are sent via HTTP, but these aren’t the usual suspects: images, CSS and JavaScript files. The culprit is an iframe used for loading ads. Internet Explorer shows a mixed content warning every time you visit a Picasa Web Albums page, which is really annoying.

Many Google services support HTTPS connections: Gmail (enabled by default), Google Reader, Google Groups, Picasa Web Albums, Google Search, Google Finance, YouTube (partially encrypted). Other services only support encrypted connections: Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Health, Google Analytics, Google AdSense and AdWords, Google Web History, Google Bookmarks, Google Voice, Google Latitude, Google Checkout. It’s probably easier to list the services that don’t support HTTPS.

{ via Brian Rose }

Now Picasa Web Users, Forced to Link Their Google Profiles

Google tries to make Picasa Web Albums a little more social, but it’s not easy to convince users that this is a good idea. I posted in August that Google will link Picasa Web Albums with Google Profiles. On the surface, this is a minor feature, but Google didn’t manage to explain users why it’s important.

If you visit Picasa Web Albums, you’ll see a huge modal dialog:

“Together at last! Picasa Web Albums now uses your public Google Profile to display your name and profile photo on your albums and next to your comments. This will help improve your experience in two ways. First, the quality of interactions across Picasa Web Albums will improve as friends can see and recognize whom they are interacting with. Second, using multiple Google products will be easier because you can now update your profile in one place.”

It makes sense for Google to have unified public profiles that integrate will all services, but users may find this disconcerting. Why take away my hard-earned alternate username and change it with a number? Why not use a different number in the URL than the Google Profiles ID, like Google Reader does? Why associate my photos with a public profile that includes my name and my Google Buzz messages?

Custom usernames were useful and I don’t see why Google isn’t more flexible. You should be able to keep the existing username or at least pick an URL that can’t be guessed from your profile address.

Instead of trying to make profiles more flexible, Google decided to disable most of the features until you link your Google Profile. You can no longer share a photo, favorite a user, add a comment. If you still don’t like the new feature, you have the one-time opportunity to transfer your photos to a new account.

You can’t force users to use a new feature by crippling the other features and then expect them to like the new feature.

Here’s how a Google employee tries to address this issue:

the chief reason for this profiles change is because we want the vast majority of pwa users to have a quality experience with other pwa users. right now, its common for a pwa user to get a comment on a photo from another user, and have the comment be effectively meaningless because it was posted by ‘DJJazzyJeff01234’. we’ve heard from many users how this freaks them out, and makes pwa a scarier place. we think this makes for a low quality social interaction between users and does not cause further engagement.

the other main reason we’re doing this is to simply help users manage their google profiles better across multiple google products. the reality is that many of our users use several google products, not just picasa. the new model lets you manage your profile ONCE, and you’re done.

in the end, you still will have total control over what others see. you can set your profile to show your full name publicly OR simply opt-out of your name being found in search. also your profile won’t display any private information unless you’ve explicitly added it.

Upload Picasa People Photos to Google Contacts

Picasa 3.8 makes it easier to upload pictures for your Google contacts. After scanning all the photos from your library and adding name tags to your photos, you can go to the Tools menu, select Upload and click on Upload People Thumbnails.

Picasa asks if “you want to upload and replace all the thumbnail photos from your People Albums to your Google Contacts”. If you click on “Upload“, Picasa saves the photos to Google Contacts and you can see them in Gmail or in any other application that synchronizes with Google Contacts (for example, Android’s Contacts app or iPhone’s Contacts app, if you use Google Sync).

If you don’t want to upload photos for all your contacts, you can click on one of the people from Picasa’s sidebar, right on a photo and select “Set as Google Contacts Thumbnail“. You can also enable “Upload people album thumbnails to Google Contacts” from Tools/Options/Name Tags (or Picasa/Preferences/Name Tags on a Mac) to upload the new thumbnails you select in Picasa.

It’s strange to see that Google didn’t add this option to Picasa Web Albums and that the photos tagged in Picasa Web Albums aren’t displayed in Google Contacts. Google could at least offer the option to pick one of the photos tagged in Picasa Web Albums when you add a picture to one of your contacts. Right now, you can only select a photo from your public albums.

Link Your Google Profile with Picasa Web Albums

Picasa Web Albums added an option to connect the service with Google Profiles. Before Google Profiles was released, each Google service used separate profiles, so you had to enter personal information multiple times.

“Picasa Web Albums are now compatible with your Google Profile! Now when you use Picasa Web Albums, you can use the same profile name and photo that you use on your Google Profile. Your Picasa Web Albums will link to your Google Profile, and your profile will link to your public albums,” informs Google’s photo service.

After linking your Google Profile with Picasa Web Albums, you can edit the profile and remove the link to your public albums.

If you’ve previously used an alias to hide your Gmail address from the URL, you can no longer use it after merging the profiles. The only option you have is to use the same ID number from Google Profiles.

It’s interesting that Picasa Web’s code calls this feature “merged profiles softlaunch”, which suggests that users aren’t required to merge profiles, but that will change in the future.

Picasa Web’s Unlisted Gallery

Picasa Web Albums added a link at the top of the page that lets you share most of your albums: “unlisted gallery”. The URL includes an authentication key that can be reset from the settings page.

“Albums set to the most private visibility setting – ‘Sign-in required to view’ – will not be displayed unless the person viewing is included on an individual album’s ‘Shared with’ list. Your unlisted gallery has an authorization key in the web address; this key is a combination of letters and numbers which makes the web address very difficult to guess,” explains Google.

The name of this feature is confusing: while the standard gallery only includes public albums, the unlisted gallery displays both public and unlisted albums. At least you only need a single link to share all your public and unlisted albums.

{ via Fran├žois. }