Google just bought the brainchild behind popular iOS app Snapseed, Nik Software.

According to Nik Software:

We are pleased to announce that Google has acquired Nik Software. For nearly 17 years, we’ve been guided by our motto, “photography first”, as we worked to build world class digital image editing tools. 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.

We’re incredibly grateful for all of your support and hope you’ll join us on the next phase of our journey as part of Google.

All our best!

The Nik Software Team

Snapseed, which is akin to iOS app Instagram in terms of jazzy vintage filters, is just one of many desktop and mobile photography apps that Nik Software develops. Snapseed launched on Apple’s iPad in June 2011, winning “iPad App of the Year” soon after, and then it landed on the iPhone in August 2011 and Mac OS just four months later. The app also boasts a Windows counterpart.

Today’s announced buyout could notably help Google’s budding social network, Google+, better combat direct rival Facebook, which recently acquired Instagram and its 100+ million users.

An update to this story is below.

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UPDATE: Google Senior Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra just confirmed the Nik Software acquisition on his personal Google+ account:

Today I’m excited to welcome +Nik Software to the Google family! We want to help our users create photos they absolutely love, and in our experience Nik does this better than anyone. Check out the examples from some of the world’s greatest photographers, and you’ll see what I mean.

This week we also hit an important milestone–over 400,000,000 people have upgraded to Google+. It was only a year ago that we opened public sign-up, and we couldn’t have imagined that so many people would join in just 12 months. While Google+ is all about creating a better experience across Google, it’s also a destination. And here too, I’m happy to report that we have just crossed 100,000,000 monthly active users on Google+ (plus.google.com and mobile app).

It is interesting Gundotra chose to reveal Google+ numbers alongside the Nik Software buyout. The combination seems to support 9to5Google’s earlier inkling about the acquisition possibly helping Google+ contend with Facebook and Instagram.