Google acquired Picasa and got Hello as a gift!
With the acquisition of Picasa, Google got a nice little utility on its hand. The software is Hello and it’s touted as an image sharing application. I tried it once before when it was promoted by Google sometime back from its Blogger service where it allowed users to add images to their Blogger based Blog using Hello. But well, I never actually understood the concept then. You never know the true potential of software within 5 minutes. I have learnt this lesson the hard way. I saw someone else using Hello for what it basically was and well, I am not hooked to it now.
Hello has a very unconventional interface with rather big buttons. Might look weird to users of messaging services like MSN or Yahoo! but itâ€™s a welcome change and would suit non technical users. The interface is littered with snippets of help which helped me a lot picking up the tools of the trade. It requires registration to login but well, all Instant Messaging clients do. Yeah, thatâ€™s what Hello primarily is. It lets you keep a track of specific users and tell you when they or online or offline. And when they are online, you can chat with them. The difference is that with Hello, you can share images. And by that I mean, real life sharing. You chose images from your computer (or from Picasa Image Manager) and it gets transferred to the other user. And both the users see the shared images on the discussion window itself where they can talk and discuss them. The beauty is the smooth transfer of multiple images even on dial up connections. You can see what the other user has selected from the cluster of shared images and you can even choose to follow his footsteps. Hence, both the users can discuss many images without any confusion. Excellent!
Apart from images, Hello also lets you discuss websites. What it does is by adding a button to Internet Explorer, it allows you to take snapshots of websites (or some particular section of a webpage) and it directly imports that to Hello and share it with your friends. An additional benefit is that the image is linked to the webpage it is associated with. Thoughtful and can be useful to discuss specific sections of a webpage with each other. It all basically depends upon how you use it of course!
What do I most like about this software? Well, the truth is that it’s amazing the way things work. Images starts appearing as a blur and gets clearer as more data is downloaded. It does not have problems with multiple transferred images. All the things that you have grown used to in other software. Smoothness is the keyword and Hello has it. And now that it is with Google, we can only expect better things from it. Maybe Google will make it its flagship Instant Messaging client which it desperately needs to get more users to stick with it for more services besides just searching. And with Hello, it has a damn good base to work on. Same way it had the raw Blogger which now has grown up to become a polished and more complete service.
The software definitely has some flaws. It does not use the routine Windows OS design elements so it’s kind of confusing at first. The software seems to only transfer JPGs (maybe because it converts everything to progressive JPGs to enable the blurring appearance of the images before the whole image is downloaded). And it even sends videos but well, as a JPG screenshot of the initial screen. What I would like it to do is to add support for more formats. Maybe Videos ( :p ), documents (like Office files) and it can be a killer of an application. Image sharing is good, but if I can even discuss textual content with maybe 2 ways editing on a single file… well the possibilities are endless. Maybe there are other applications that do this, but Google has a gem of a client on its hand which it can make only better with time!
And since it’s now owned by Google, it can add support for GMail/Orkut message notification! And also, I would love it to have multi-user support and possible chat rooms for community discussion of images! Unlimited potential and possibilities I would say.
Sushubh Mittal is the Tech Columnist at Search Engine Journal and also the publisher of >Software Journal.