Google has handed out an early Christmas gift. Unfortunately, it may be one with some strings attached.

Three months after purchasing Snapseed, the Instagram competitor, Google is now offering their photo-editing app for free. Unfortunately, this could mean that ads are on their way.

Originally priced at $4.99, Snapseed 1.5 also includes built-in Google+ sharing functionality. Additionally, the app has a new filter called Retrolux, plus an updated Frames filter.

There is nothing wrong with permanently dropping the price of an app to free. Still, in Google’s case, it brings with it deep concerns.

Google is the king of online ads, as their recently introduced (or is it reintroduced?) YouTube app proved. Additionally, by dropping the price so steeply, Google just made a lot of Snapseed’s paying customers very angry, as comments in the App Store already suggest.

Users of Facebook’s Instagram app, which has always been free, are likely to see ads arriving on that app as well. At the time this was announced, I suggested that Facebook should offer an ad-free version of Instagram. I would suggest the same to Google for Snapseed. That way, users would have a choice between seeing ads or not.

Snapseed and Instagram (remember, both free) are available for download in the App Store.