Delivering on an often-made request, Facebook on Monday began allowing multiple users to upload photos to the same photo album.
People can now avoid having to sort through albums from several different friends when trying to relive parties, weddings and other shared events. It's the latest innovation in the increasingly competitive photo-sharing market that has Facebook, Google, Yahoo and others all vying for photo uploads.
[Updated 10:25 a.m. Aug. 27: Those looking to avoid Facebook can turn to shared-albums apps such as Flock, Albumatic and Cluster. Flock, available for Android and iOS, automatically recognizes friends in pictures and invites them to join a shared album. Albumatic and Cluster are only available for iOS, and thus can only handle photo uploads from iPhones and iPads. Google+ users may also create collaborative albums.
Another option is the website Moment.me, which aggregates photos from multiple social networks.]
The Shared Album feature will be available to people in batches, starting with English-language users.
The Facebook user who makes a Shared Album can add up to 50 contributors, who in turn can add up to 200 photos each. Previously created albums can be turned into shared albums as well.
The creator sets the privacy settings for the entire album, which can be contributors only, friends of contributors only or public. When people are tagged in photos, the audience automatically expands to friends of the person tagged. Each contributor is notified when new photos are added.
The album creator may delete any contributor's photos, so it may be a good idea to preserve a backup somewhere.
Contributors can upload photos or merge an existing album into the shared one. They may also add other contributors and edit their own photos. A contributor who's kicked out or leaves an album has to go to their Activity Log to delete the photos in the album.
Mobile users can upload photos to a shared album. However, a shared album can't be created from a mobile device yet.
Facebook programmers started designing the feature at a January hackathon and put a working version together in a matter of hours. But the release of the feature more than eight months later shows the effort Facebook must now go through to deliver a version of something that works for all of the 1.1 billion people on the social network.
Paul Tarjan, a Facebook programmer, said in a public Facebook post that he had been annoyed that album sharing didn't exist.
"So now, the next time I go on a trip with Michelle she can't complain about how Facebook is broken and we can't share our albums," he wrote. "In a small way, I helped unbreak Facebook for us, and the world."