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Once again, Google has embedded new features into its free desktop photo management app for Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7), Picasa, after first launching said features on the online Picasa Web Albums.

This time around Google is offering collaborative Web albums. Since August, you've been able to let friends upload photos into your Picasa Web Album, and vice versa. The way you grant permission on the Web is with a subtle icon next to the name of the person with whom you've already shared the album. Your friends can then quickly add their own photos to the online mix without having to first send them to you. They'll also be able to edit photos in the album. We immediately see the appeal for those who are working together on a project, like creating a family reunion album.

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Click a tiny icon on PicasaWeb to let friends contribute to your album. (Credit: Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET)

On Tuesday, Google baked this album-building tool into Picasa's upload process. When you upload photos from Picasa 3.6 to a Picasa Web album, you'll be able to grant those with whom you share the album dispensation to work with your shots. After choosing the pictures you'd like to upload, you'll choose a group you want to share with and check that box to let them contribute to your work. You can also click the "Share" button in an album on Picasa for the desktop to type in e-mail addresses for individuals.

The benefit? Assigning collaborative rights on the desktop as part of the upload process keeps you from having to log into Picasa online to grant permissions for albums and photos you've already shared.

Similarly, if others have given you the green light to meddle in their albums, you can also upload photos from Picasa 3.6 directly into albums under their control.

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Tick the box on Picasa 3.6 to kick-off collaboration. (Credit: Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET)

Picasa 3.6 can now also suggest contact names in the "People" tab for the app's name-tagging feature, which helps you speedily put namea to the faces in your entire photo collection. There's also more control over which photos get scanned in the Tools menu. Other additions include being able to save custom crop sizes and an option to keep a JPG photo's compression metrics when uploading to Picasa Web Albums.

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.