When Google launched the heavily-criticized Google+ platform, I considered myself to be a fan. At the time it had great controls for posting, along with a suite of tools that tied your entire Google ecosystem of services together like Google Maps (in the form of location reporting), Hangouts (which was my favorite messaging platform at the time), Gmail, and Contacts.
The best part of Google+ back then was Photos; their online storage system for backing up photos and videos. Now broken off from Google+ into their own separate service, Google Photos remains my favorite Google product. Nothing to complicated about it: install the app on your phone, tablet, or computer, and your photos backup automagically to Google’s servers.
Three things make Photos such an invaluable product for me:
- Unlimited photo and video uploads – Compared to Flickr which gives you only 1TB or other services like Dropbox, Google Photos accepts unlimited amounts of your photos at sizes up to 12MP. Any higher than that then it counts in your Google Drive storage.
- Automatic photo/video editing powered by machine learning – Take a slew of similar pictures and Google will stitch them up in a collage for you, or turn them into a moving gif. Go somewhere for the weekend and when you come back an album would automatically be created, with slick graphics and categorized accurately.
- Powerful search and sharing tools – type “book” into the search bar and all photos containing books show up. It even recognizes faces, so you can easily find that one photo of your niece on her second birthday, a few years ago, quickly and easily. Then share them.
Getting your photos on to Google Photos
1. On the web
Navigate to https://photos.google.com/. After signing into your Google Account, simply drag and drop your photos onto the browser window.
2. Via smartphone or tablet
Google provides the Photos app for free on both iOS and Android. The photos you’ve previously uploaded onto the service would appear here; however what you’ll see in the photo gallery would only be the thumbnail images of your photos. Only when you tap to open them will the image load up into your phone for your viewing. This is great so that it doesn’t flood your phone or tablet’s storage with all your photos from time immemorial.
Then all you have to do is to enable photo backups in the app. To avoid incurring heavy data charges, you can set Photos to upload only when there is WiFi available.
Make full use of the Assistant in the Photos app to create auto-generated projects. All the photos or videos you take can be made into albums, gifs, loop videos or collages. This so far is my favorite feature; I can go on a holiday or event and snap away, knowing that organization of those pics would be done in a nice, shareable format. Zero effort on my part.
For every creation of the Assistant you can edit it more to your liking. Change the audio, rearrange the collage, remove a few pics from the album and such.
If you’re a professional photographer, the compression for photos higher than 12MP will most likely be a dealbreaker for you. No matter how good the compression is. In that case, services like Flickr which offer 1TB of storage might be better for you.
But if you’re just looking for a space to store your phone photos in one place without losing them, Google Photos is the right place.