Google has acquired Neven Vision to help the search engine develop technology that recognizes objects within images, the company said yesterday.

Google said it will make its Picasa photo-organizing feature even better when you are searching for photos — it may make it easier to tag them and organize.

Google had looked at buying Silicon Valley start-up Riya many months ago, for this same function. But Riya’s leader, CEO Munjal Shah, apparently looked inside himself and found the guts for an even bigger play: shrugging off Google, and building up an image search engine that could rank as competitor to Google itself, at least when it comes to photos. Google does not do a search engine for images by appearance alone. “We have already moved on to Riya 2.0,” he wrote to us, in response to the Neven news. “Google is still one step behind Riya.”

(Update: We put the quotation marks in the headline, to indicate the one-step advantage claim is Munjal’s. Now, we have word from Bryan Quinn, the guy who runs photo site SpyMedia, and so knows something about photos. He disagrees. He says he has tested both technologies and says Neven’s is better than Riya’s.)

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