App type: Photo
Publisher: Hani Atassi
Release date: January 11, 2011
Price: $1.29

Phone features used: Location services, data connection, media library

Download Picasa Metro for Windows Phone 7

Pity the poor Windows Phone 7 fan who's also a heavy user of non-Microsoft online services. Sure, Microsoft provides decent built-in support for a tiny handful of close partners like Facebook, but otherwise you're pretty much on your own. So while Microsoft talks up all the online services integration capabilities of Windows Phone, for most of us--users of unsupported services like Flickr, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Google Picasaweb, and so on--this stuff is more promise than reality. And that means we need to make do the old fashioned way, with apps.

Thus, I've highlighted some relevant third party apps in the past, such as the official Flickr and Twitter apps, and Rowi, my personal choice for Twitter usage on the go. And this week's pick follows in the same vein: I'm a Google Picasaweb user and while I'd love for there to be some kind of deep integration between this service and the Pictures hub in Windows Phone, Microsoft hasn't enabled such a thing. So I've scoured the Windows Phone Marketplace for a decent Picasweb app. And I've found one. It's called Picasa Metro.

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Picasa Metro offers everything you'd expect in a Picasa app and it seems to be getting updated very regularly, adding new and often unexpected (in a good way) additional features. At its most basic level, Picasa Metro lets you access photos in your Picasaweb account as well as those from your friends. It utilizes a simple yet attractive and effective Metro UI, always appreciated.

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Beyond the basics, Picasa Metro lets you add new Picasaweb albums on the go, view and add photo comments, crop and rotate photos, and manage your albums in various ways (naming, deleting, and so on). Photo viewing works as expected, with pinch to zoom functionality and swipe-based navigation. You can save Picasaweb-based photos to the phone, share them via email, and upload phone-based photos to Picasaweb.

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In a nice bit of integration with Windows Phone functionality that Microsoft has opened up to third party developers, the makers of Picasa Metro provide a Bing Maps-based interface for viewing your photos on a map. It's probably fairly useless for day to day use, but it's a fun thing, and unusual, I think, for a mobile photo solution.

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If you use both Picasaweb and Windows Phone, as I do, you need Picasa Metro. It's not free, but the $1.29 price tag is quite reasonable, given its reach feature set. I can only imagine how far this app could go if Microsoft ever does open up its Pictures hub to true services integration, but for now Picasa Metro does the job.