Facebook improves photo album browsing

Thumbnail images are now bigger and up to 200 of them fit into a single page, up from a previous maximum of 20

Facebook has implemented some changes to enhance the experience of browsing through photos, one of the most popular activities on the social networking site, to which people have uploaded tens of billions of images.

Now, a single page will display up to 200 of an album's thumbnail images, up from a maximum of 20, so that users don't have to click through multiple pages when browsing an album that contains many photos.

Increasing the single-page view of thumbnail images to 200 likely means in practical terms that the thumbnails of most albums will fit into a single page.

To avoid dragging down the browser's performance, Facebook will not load all thumbnails at once by default. Instead, Facebook will only load the thumbnails that can be viewed on a screen, and load more images when and if users scroll down.

In addition, Facebook has increased the size of thumbnail images in order to make it easier for users to decide if they want to view a photo in full size.

"This new photo browsing experience is one of a series of improvements we're making to browsing, uploading and tagging photos. We've already increased the size of photos. We've also added face detection to make it easier to tag photos on your home page and throughout the site," wrote Facebook engineer Stefan Parker in a blog posting.

In April, 112.7 million people in the U.S. -- more than half of the country's Internet users -- visited a photo sharing site, up 3 percent from March, according to comScore. Facebook's photo-related unique visitors spiked higher than the category average, rising 8 percent in April, comScore said.

In July, Facebook ranked as the most popular photo sharing site in the U.S. with 98.5 million unique visitors to its photo sections, while Photobucket came in a distant second place with 27.4 million unique visitors. MySpace, Yahoo's Flickr and Google's Picasa rounded out the top five, according to comScore.

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