Google reportedly separating photo service from Google+
Google may be making another popular feature from its social network available to a larger audience.
Richard NievaFormer senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
It looks like the great unbundling of Google+ services rolls on.
The search giant is planning to make its popular photo service available to people who aren't signed up to its Google+ social network, according to a report published Friday by Bloomberg. The photo features would still be available to Google+ users, and may get a rebranding if it becomes a separate entity.
The move would be only the latest example of Google+ services that the company is making available to a larger audience. On Thursday, Google announced that it is giving access to its Hangouts video conference feature to subscribers of its business apps suite, even if they don't have a Google+. And last week, Google added the ability to make calls to the Web version of Google Voice. This means that users don't need a Google+ account, just their original Google email log-in, to place calls.
"Over here in our darkroom, we're always developing new ways for people to snap, share and say cheese," said Google, in a statement, without addressing whether or not it would separate the feature.
While Google+ has struggled to catch on with users, its photo service has been well-received by photographers. The company revamped the features in October. Some of those include new algorithms that let users search more easily through big dumps of photos and better back up photo files. The company also introduced Auto Awesome Movie, a live video version of its photo-editing feature, that lets users create quick films by stringing together movie clips. The software adds background music and filters.
"We are not building a service for lightweight sharing," said then chief of Google+ Vic Gundotra, at the time. Gundotra left the company in April. He added that the service is "revolutionizing the field of photography."
The company also said at the time that Google+ has 300 million "in-stream" users -- or people who actively view the main news page or feed -- and that 1.5 billion photos are uploaded each week on the service.