Google is once again trying hard to convince users of Picasa Web Albums to jump over to Google+ Photos.
Picasa Web Albums is still alive and kicking, though its URL now directs you to Google+.
(Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET)
The URL http://picasaweb.google.com no longer brings you to Picasa Web Albums, but instead redirects you to Google+ Photos. As described by the Google Operating System Blog, which is unaffiliated with Google, you have to enter the URL https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/myphotos?noredirect=1 to sneak back into Picasa Web Albums.
You only need to enter that URL once, though. After you use it the first time, Google sets a cookie that turns off the redirection. So you can then go back to using http://picasaweb.google.com to access your Picasa photo album page.
Google has been touting Google+ as the "new home" for your photo albums. The search giant has already replaced Picasa Web with Google+ Photos in the navigation bar, and has been redirecting individual photo albums to the Google+ interface, according to the Google Operating System Blog.
Picasa's days have seemed numbered for a while.
Last April, Google disabled the Picasa Web Album Uploader for the Mac and the plug-in for iPhoto. It also put a halt to any future updates for Picasa for Linux. No new features have been added to Picasa Web Albums in general in quite some time.
The new Google+ profile pictures feature larger cover photos.
A day ahead of Facebook's event to show off changes to its newsfeed, Google has also rolled out new profiles that make three key tweaks:
Huge cover photos: 2120x1192 pixels that display at 16x9, or about twice as tall as they did previously. "This way, more images can be used as cover photos, and there's more room for your selection to shine," Google said in a post outlining the changes
A redesigned "About" tab, organising your information into cards that resemble Google Now; a "Story" tab outlines basic information about who you are; and "Places" shows where you have lived. Fine-grained controls let you decide which of your circles can see which cards
A new "Local" tab gathers any reviews of places that you may have gone to into a single place. If reviews aren't your thing, you can hide the tab via Google+ settings.
By themselves, none of the changes are likely to drive significant new traffic to Google+. But they show the way that Google is moving into the second phase of the Google+ project — having first used it to establish an identity platform for all of Google's services, the company can now focus on turning it into a destination.
And it's not the only move Google made on that front. The company also announced developer boot camps to promote its new "Google+ Sign-In" feature. Responding to what it called "huge interest" from developers, the company will host nine five-day boot camps in Mountain View, California; London; New York; Berlin; Bangalore, India; Sao Paulo; Sydney; Seoul; and Tokyo. The boot camps will take place between 11 March and 12 April.