Google’s mysterious Photovine.com is live, but what the heck is it?

A service called Photovine.com went live today, and the website’s tag line, “plant a photo, watch it grow,” is intriguing. It has a domain and trademark owned by Google, as noted by TheNextWeb.com – could this be the new photo sharing service for Google+?

There’s not much to go on at this point. The service’s splash page doesn’t offer a whole lot to click on or read. One wonders why they even put the splash page up.

The homepage says “Photovine is a fun way to learn more about your friends, meet new people, and share your world like never before.”

There’s a link to a support page, hinting that support is necessary for people who might be getting to test the service.

Photovine’s privacy policy page indicates this is a project of Slide, a company Google acquired in August 2010 for $182 million. Even though Google owns Slide, the company continues to release apps that have little to do with Google’s social strategy. But photo sharing is something Google+, launched in June, needs. If you’ve tried sharing photos from your Picasa album on Google+, you are familiar with the frustration.

Google already sort-of introduced photo-sharing service Pool Party in June 2011. It is still in invite-only beta testing. Pool Party has an emphasis on creating and sharing group photo albums in real time (it has applications in both Apple’s App Store and the Android Market). To get an invite, you either need to know someone using the service or wait for an invitation after signing up on Pool Party’s website.

Photovine is different from Pool Party. Here’s how it works, according to TNW.com: Vines connect you to people through themes represented in photos (sounds an awful like a Google+ Circle). The vine can “grow” as it expands to your friends and family’s photos. It seems that themes are indicated in photo captions.

Pool Party and Photovine need to have a get together in a Google+ Hangout. They can talk about how they can meld their services and be rebranded as Google Photo Share.

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