Facebook Allows High Resolution Photos, Bulk Tagging, and Makes More Improvements to Photos

Today Facebook begins rolling out multiple improvements to its photos product. Users will be able to upload and download high resolution photos, quickly view photos in a pop-up light box view without leaving the page they are currently viewing, utilize two bulk tagging features to tag one person in multiple photos simultaneously, and use a streamlined and more reliable Flash uploading tool. Despite the monetary cost, Facebook has made the changes to keep the world’s most popular photos product technologically competitive.

Five months ago Facebook acquired photo sharing startup Divvyshot, whose founder Sam Odio managed these product changes. He tells us that “we took a fresh look at the photos product, built a new vision, and this is the first step towards that vision. Facebook is building out a larger photos team, photos are becoming a priority within the company, and it’s something we felt like we should be doing for our users.” The new changes will only go live for a small random subset of users later today because of the 100 million photos Facebook takes in a day. However, barring any significant problems, the changes will be rolled out to 100% of the user base over the next few weeks.

High Resolution Photos

Users will now have the option to upload photos at 2048 pixels along the largest side as well as Facebook’s standard 720 pixels. This 8 times improvement in quality will cover the resolution of photos taken by most consumer cameras. Larger photos, such as those shot with DSLRs, will be re-sized down to 2048 pixels, or roughly 6000 kilobytes, on the user’s side just before the upload occurs. This means that if you try to upload a 6 megabyte photo, you won’t have to wait for that large file to be sent to Facebook. Users will still have to be patient, however, as the uploader notes high resolution photos take up to 10 times longer to upload.

Anyone will be able to view the print quality, high resolution photos on Facebook’s web interface, and there will be a link below them to initiate a download of a .jpg of the photo. The high resolution will allows users to print 5×7 inch photos at 300 DPI, or perhaps even 8x10s, without any degradation of the image. High resolution photos will also be available through the API, opening opportunities for print products, and high resolution photo experiences on HD televisions. Odio says he’s excited to see what the API partners come up with.

Facebook will still be using its Haystack storage infrastructure for high resolution photos. The significant drop in storage costs over the last five years makes the high resolution feasible, but it will still cost millions of dollars. Odio says, “Zuckerberg made the decision. He though users would appreciate high resolution. He looked at the tab and said ‘Let’s do it.’” Odio explained that all the other major photo sharing sites offer high resolution, including Divvyshot, and while Facebook had previously been focused on sharing memories, not pixels, Facebook is ready to “get with the times”.

Light Box View Of Photos

Soon, you will be able to click a photo anywhere on site, on the news feed or within albums, and the photo will load over a darkened background of the content you were viewing. You can then browse to adjacent photos, or click out or hit escape to close the light box and resume viewing the page you were previously looking at. The view will also include comments and Likes below the photo, only one advertisement instead of two, and the total amount of other text and distracting graphics will be minimal.