When it introduced the Chromebook Pixel in February, Google showed off a new Photos app for the cloud-centric laptop and said the software would launch later. Later is now, because Pixel owners can now download the app, called Google+ Photos, directly to their laptops.
Some of the basic features are little more than viewing options that are already available in Google+. You can view individual pictures or whole albums and see image metadata such as the camera used for the shot or the location of the where the image was taken. Google’s photo enhancement is also part of the package. But the newest feature goes to show that Google’s Chrome OS isn’t just a browser.
The new app supports automatic photo imports and uploads directly to Google+ through either an SD memory card or a USB-connected camera. Photos can be backed up in their full size — the storage of which will count against your total Google Drive capacity — or can be saved in what Google calls a standard size (2048 pixels) without hitting your Drive cap. Of course, Pixel owners get a free terabyte of storage for three-years with a Pixel — part of the reason I bought one — so I’m opting for full-size. You can also allow the app to auto-curate for the best photos.
Obviously, there’s tight integration with Google+ in the app, allowing you to see how many views the photo has, any comments, or people tagged. These are all available options if you’ve shared the photos on Google+. I anticipate, however, that Chromebook owners will heavily use this as their standard photo viewer for their entire photo library. Adding the import and auto-backup support makes it a no-brainer for us folks who don’t think Chrome is “just a browser.”
The application doesn’t run in the browser, meaning it’s either a Packaged App or a Native Client application; my money is on the former. Regardless don’t be surprised to see Google release this same application for Mac, Windows and possibly Linux.
I’ve already made the argument that Google is poised to gain prominence over traditional desktop platforms: Chrome is a platform of its own, and apps written for it run anywhere the Chrome browser is installed.