A few months ago, we released our "name tags" feature in US English, which helps you easily organize all your photos based on who's in each of your pictures. By automatically clustering similar faces in your photo collection together, name tags makes it easy for you to label hundreds of photos in a matter of minutes -- so you can do things like create slideshows featuring specific friends with just a couple of clicks.
We're proud of the great reception name tags received, and today, we're happy to announce that the name tags feature is now available in the full panoply of languages (38 in all!) that Picasa Web Albums currently serves. To get started with name tags, just click the opt-in button on your Picasa Web Albums gallery page.
That's not all we're releasing today, however. We've been busy building finer-grained sharing controls, better video playback quality, and a few other nice surprises, like automatic translation of comments and an improved gallery page design.
So what's new with sharing? To start, we've made it easier for you to quickly see who you've shared your albums with -- you'll notice this information in the right-hand column of any album page. For viewers, we've reciprocated by making it easier to see shared albums, too: whenever your friends or family look at your gallery page, they can now easily see all the albums you've shared with them -- public, unlisted, or sign-in-required -- in one place.
Of course, we can only track sharing that happens from inside Picasa Web Albums -- if you're in the habit of copy & pasting links to your unlisted albums into an email, these social features won't work. So go ahead and give the 'share' button a try: it's faster, it's integrated with your contact list, and now provides a better photo-sharing experience over the long run.
By the way, did you catch that mention of 'sign-in-required' albums? Yep, that's new, too. From the beginning, we've always offered a choice between 'public' and 'unlisted' albums -- public albums are for photos you want to share with as wide an audience as possible, whereas an unlisted album remains essentially invisible until you share its URL with friends or family. (One of the great things about unlisted albums is that they don't require your friends to sign up for a Google account just to see the photos you've shared -- and it gives family members the freedom to pass along a link to favorite baby picture, and so on.)
Today, we're adding an even higher degree of control -- the ability to share only with specific individuals. This is the most restrictive sharing setting, and it requires recipients to have (or sign up for) a Picasa Web Albums account. As such, it's a bit more work than the well-balanced convenience of unlisted albums, but if you're looking for exceptionally tight control over exactly who can see specific photo albums in your collection, give this feature a spin. (If you use Picasa software on your PC, we'll be issuing an update in the next few weeks that will allow you to manage these new privacy options directly from your desktop.)
There are several other changes out today as well, like the aforementioned improvements to video--now all your videos over a certain size (320 pixels) will play back in higher-quality MPEG4 format. You don't need to re-upload the files or make any other changes, just enjoy your existing videos at higher quality! Also, we made some tweaks to our page layout design to add a bit more polish.
We hope you enjoy the new changes -- as always, let us know what you think in our new Picasa Help Forum.