Google has begun pushing its “Auto Backup” photo archival software to Mac and Windows users via the company’s social networking platform, Google+. The promotion is new, we’ve confirmed, though the software itself was first launched back in December.
At that time, Google began offering the desktop utility as a part of its older Picasa photo-sharing platform, which confusingly (and oddly) somehow still has its own domain, despite the fact that Google has been integrating Google+ into everything it owns, from search to Gmail to YouTube. When the version of Picasa for Mac and Windows launched at the end of last year, a separate tool called “Auto Backup” appeared. This app runs in the background, similar to something like Google Drive or Google Music, in order to upload all your photos to Google+, including those from SD cards.
Now some users are noticing that a link to the same software is appearing on Google+, when they click into the “Photos” section of the social networking website.
The prompt appears underneath the “Upload Photos” button from the Google+ Photos top-level navigation. Here, a dialog box explains that the software will automatically save your photos and videos to Google+, where they’ll be marked private unless you choose to share them. You can also access Google+ Photos to then see this prompt if you’re a Chrome user who clicks through on the “Photos” icon from the app launcher (the top-right square grid-like button).
After you download the utility, or dismiss the prompt in another way, it may be difficult to get the message to reappear, I’ve found. There doesn’t seem to be a website or section on Google+ where users can find links to directly download this software for themselves. For instance, the Google+ Photos “Take a Tour” page points to the “Auto Backup” app (which is actually just the Google+ app) on Google Play and the iTunes App Store, but links to “Auto Backup” for Mac and Windows are nowhere to be found.
For what it’s worth, if you do decide to take advantage of the utility, be aware that it will not respect the folder structure you may have in place on your computer. That is, it will take the photos from all the albums you point it to and place them in one album on Google+ where you could then choose to share or organize them as you like.
What the software’s appearance means in terms of Google’s larger plans to shutter the Picasa brand and domain remains to be seen, of course. For whatever reason, Google continues to develop and update its Picasa desktop software, despite its competition with Google+ in terms of feature set (photo editing, organization, etc.) and mindshare.
This post was first seen on Techcrunch. Images are as seen on the post page.