Much-loved on Windows, photo-management application Picasa has Apple's iPhoto for competition.

We tested a mostly feature-complete beta (geotagging and print ordering being the biggest omissions), and although iPhoto bests Google's effort, Apple may have a fight on its hands.

On test, Picasa was the good, the bad and the ugly of photo management, with good aspects most commonplace. Importing proved painless, if lengthy, with Picasa rifling through our entire hard drive for images.

Thereafter, Picasa outperformed iPhoto in navigation speed, and its ability to track user-defined folders and iPhoto content, updating its library accordingly, is useful. Note that Picasa never overwrites iPhoto content, instead it duplicates images during edits.

Despite its quirky UI, Picasa is straightforward to use for searches, editing and built-in effects (notably Focal B&W) impress, as are the automated collages, used for creating compositions, mosaics and multiple exposure superimpositions.

Picasa's integration with web services segues good with bad: favour Google services (Blogger, Picasa web albums) and you're fine; if you prefer Flickr and Facebook, tough.

Elsewhere, Picasa eats system resources, and album organisation is basic, with iPhoto imports appearing as hundreds of folders. A lack of smart albums and events organisation may put off users of iPhoto '08 and beyond.

As for ugly, Picasa resembles a Windows application that's been smashed into Mac OS X with a hammer. It feels and looks strange and there's little here to tempt iPhoto '08 or '09 users. However, if you've an older iLife or want a free photo manager that can make simple edits, Picasa's worth a look.