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Picasa Web Albums Updates: Added Private Albums

Google rolled out some new features and improvements to Picasa Web Albums: Firs up, the name tags feature is now available in 38 languages 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.

Secondly, they’ve added a new option that makes your albums stricly private. If you edit an album’s properties and select “Require sign-in to view”, only the people you are explicitly sharing the album can see it. “Select the ‘Require sign-in to view’ option to set the highest level of privacy for your album — you specify who has permission to view it, and visitors must sign in to their Google Account to verify their identity. Anyone not included on the album’s ‘Shared with’ access list will be unable to view the album,” details the help page.

The access list is displayed in the album’s sidebar and you can add or remove people from that list at any time. 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. The only problem is that your friends need to have Google accounts to validate their identity and access the album.

Until now the only alternative to making the album public was to make it unlisted, but the album still had a web address that allowed anyone who knew it to view your album. If you try to view an album that has the new visibility option enabled, you’ll get this error message:

Since you now have three levels of visibility and it’s difficult to remember which albums are unlisted or private, Picasa Web Albums’ homepage displays the access setting next to each album using an icon.

Finally, now all your uploaded videos over a certain size (320 pixels) will play back in higher-quality MPEG4 format.

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