iPhone showdown: Picasa versus Photobucket

Google's Picasa and Photobucket get new iPhone treatment, vie for your photo fanfare.

Photobucket logo

Photo-sharing and -storage sites Picasa Web (click for Picasa's PC download) and Photobucket announced new mobile interfaces this week. While m.photobucket.com and picasaweb.google.com/mobile (or via Google's new mobile interface: mobile.google.com) grant access to online albums from any mobile browser, the interface on iPhone's full Safari browser is still a special case. iPhone's large, sharp screen is ideal for viewing slide shows, but bars users from directly uploading iPhone photos to Web sites.

While this essentially leaves Picasa handcuffed as a mobile photo viewer, Photobucket's site provides an account-linked e-mail address for users to send photos that are then pushed to their Photobucket accounts. It's a decent roundabout uploading technique that's legal under warranty, until Apple enables direct photo and video uploading.

Picasa logo

Both Picasa and Photobucket for iPhone display personal albums and search fields for seeking out public photos from each sites' larger community. Photobucket throws in a few suggested search items on the log-in page, like all photos tagged "glitter," but has a clumsier linear display that won't produce iPhone slide shows and fails to resize when flipped horizontally. Picasa's more polished interface offers a much cleaner user experience that also makes better use of the iPhone's dimensions, passes the "iPhone flip" test, and also provides a quick link to Google's other mobile services, like Google Reader, the calendar, and Gmail.

If Google's Picasa were to adopt a photo-upload workaround, it would easily be superior to Photobucket, whose full version already outstrips Picasa Web in features that include video uploads and wide distribution options. However, Picasa users who don't mind uploading iPhone images via their PC will enjoy the flexible viewing that mimics iPhone's native photo-viewing.

Related stories:
Photobucket goes mobile, launches pocket-friendly site
Photo tour: The Google booth at Macworld

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.