Jan 6, 2009: Two great announcements for Mac using photographers today. Apple announced iPhoto 9, with a host of new features. At the same time, Google released the long awaited beta of Picasa for Macintosh.
I was really excited with the chance to use Picasa for the Mac. I’ve used the Windows version of Picasa and was very happy with it. The fact that Picasa can seek out and index all the images on your hard drives without being told is a “killer feature”. It works quietly in the background indexing every image it can find, while you concentrate on other stuff.
For a long time, I’ve hoped Google would develop a Mac version. Early last year, rumors surfaced that “Big G” was working on Picasa for the Mac. Today those rumors have proven true.
My excitement was short lived however. My Mac met the system requirements — but I don’t have the minimum hardware. Turns out Picasa for Mac (or least the initial beta) only runs on Intel processors. PPC Macs, such as my lowly dual processor G5, need not apply.
I’m disappointed, but not completely surprised. Intel Macs are the way forward, while the G5 machines are rooted in the past. Why should Google devote resources to developing for an out of production machine? In fact, the next OS X operating system to be released, “Snow Leopard,” is rumored to run only on Intel processors.
I don’t blame Google, but it is a shame. Even though the G5 towers are outclassed by the newer Mac Pro machines, they still offer solid, powerful performance. If they can run Lightroom and Aperture (they can), I can’t see any performance problems with running Picasa. I’m guessing it was simply a business decision on Google’s part. Developing for architecture that even Apple may soon stop supporting probably didn’t make too much sense..
Of course this is just the initial beta. There is a chance that at some point Google will invite PPC Mac users to the Picasa party. After all, most thinly staffed open source Mac projects manage to support both Intel and PPC chip sets. For the time being, however, if you use a PPC Mac, Google’s stance is “no Picasa for you.”
I was hoping to report on how well the beta ran on my G5. I also wanted to see if Google had included any support for Sony Alpha ARW files. The last time I tired Picasa for Windows, it offered support for certain RAW formats. The Alpha wasn’t one of them. I was hoping that with the influx of new Sony dSLRs (A200, A300, A350 and A900), Google would include Sony Alpha RAW support.
I guess that my testing will have to wait until I upgrade to a Mac Pro or Big G offers a PPC version of Picasa. Meanwhile, if anyone with a Intel Mac tries the beta, please let everyone know what you think in the comments.
Should post the beta download link here. You can download Picasa for Macintosh at http://picasa.google.com/mac/
- Mac OS X 10.4+
- Intel CPU
- 256MB RAM
- 100MB available hard disk space
Picasa also runs on Windows XP and Linix.