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Google buys photo editor Snapseed

The rivalry between Google and Facebook is stepping up a notch after Google on Monday acquired Nik Software, the German company behind Snapseed, a popular iOS photo app. Snapseed is a photo manipulation app that also uses filters in a similar way to Facebook-owned Instagram does. Snapseed was previously Apple's pick for the iPad App of the Year.

As part of the same announcement, Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president of engineering, declared that Google+ reached 400 million signups, 100 million of which are monthly active users. Facebook still leads as the biggest social network with more than 950 million monthly active users.

In many ways, Snapseed is very similar to Instagram, which Facebook bought earlier this year for 1 billion. You can use filters for photos, as well as frames and effects such as tilt shift, but the app lacks its own social network compared to Instagram. Snapseed also only has 9 million users while Instagram announced in July it has 100 million users. Instagram is free to download and Snapseed costs $4.99.

Even though Snapseed is not as popular as Instagram, the app has its own following among photo enthusiasts and is a good match for Google+, which has an emphasis on photo sharing. If Google's joint announcement on the Nik Software acquisition and Google+ stats was not enough of a hint that Snapseed will be somehow integrated into Google+, The Verge reports that the portion of the company that worked on Snapseed will work directly on the social network.

It's unclear though what kind of integration we will see from Snapseed and Google+. For example, although Facebook bought Instagram, the social network released a separate Facebook Camera app for iOS, complete with Instagram-like filters and so far kept Instagram independent. Google also has the opportunity to integrate Snapseed filters, frames, and editing capabilities directly into its Google+ mobile app for iOS, while Snapseed also has an Android version in the works.

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