Facebook Photos Now Larger And Faster

Logging on to Facebook today and rifling through the offerings of my News Feed, I saw the latest update to photos in action. Following on from a size update in March (when the photo viewer would display images up to 720 pixels – and improvement upon 620 before then), the most recent version of the photo viewer now presents images that are 960 pixels wide.

As Facebook is now by far the biggest photo sharing site on the web, it has to keep things fresh. In September 2010 they updated to a black lightbox-based photo viewer and added support to upload photos as large as 2048 pixels in width (although you can’t view them on Facebook that size, you can download them), making Facebook a viable method of sharing high-quality photos. But the black lightbox has now been replaced with an opaque white surrounding, which Facebook says puts more of the focus on the photo itself. It’s also apparently twice as fast at loading photos.

Here's the new Facebook photo viewer... The blurry image is the result of shoddy camera work, not Facebook's photo engine

If you look at the screen-grab above, you’ll notice some other little tweaks to the orientation and presentation of the peripheral info you can add to your photos. Instead of listing the tags in the order they appear across the screen, it now reads as: “[album owner – in this case me] with [tag 1] and [tag 2]…” and so on. There is also a quicker way to tag, as you can see in the bottom left corner of the Facebook picture, and the privacy settings of a particular image can be changed on the right hand side. If it’s your photo you can also adjust the rotation quickly without having to go into ‘Edit’ mode by using the buttons in the bottom right corner of the image.

So nothing hugely earth-shattering going on with Facebook, but I think these new changes are pretty cool. Along with the recent update to how you can manage your privacy settings, it looks like they might be feeling the heat from the likes of Google+… But who ever said a little competition was a bad thing?