Snapseed and other applications, in answer to Facebook's acquisition of Instagram, which closed earlier this month.
"We want to help our users create photos they absolutely love, and in our experience Nik does this better than anyone," said Google SVP of engineering Vic Gundotra in a Google+ post on Monday.
Google declined to comment on whether it paid anywhere near the $1 billion that Facebook paid for Instagram.
Nik Software, based in San Diego, Calif., was established in 1995. Though Snapseed has been its biggest success, winning awards for the past two years and attracting over 9 million users, the company also makes a variety of other photography applications for OS X and Windows.
Snapseed is available on iOS, OS X, and Windows, and an Android release is expected soon.
Google's motivation for buying a social photo app maker is the same as Facebook's: Mobile users and engagement. Google+, Google's social network has been growing--Gundotra said that Google+, a little more than a year old, has reached 100 million monthly active users and 400 million registered users. But it's likely to grow faster and keep users engaged by improving its mobile photo sharing.
Taking pictures and sharing them using a mobile device is generally easier than writing text posts and tends to encourage users to maintain a relationship with the service hosting their pictures. Text posts don't quite inspire the same sense of ownership as photos and aren't likely to ever take up enough storage space on a server to incur a storage fee.
Instagram, without the support Google has poured into Google+, surpassed 100 million users in only two years, which suggests that people really enjoy mobile photo sharing services.
Nik Software seems to share that enthusiasm. "We've always aspired to share our passion for photography with everyone, and with Google's support we hope to be able to help many millions more people create awesome pictures," the company said in a statement.
Google made another acquisition 10 days ago, security firm VirusTotal. So far this year, Google has acquired 10 companies, compared to 25 in 2011.
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