Google announced their Photos app last year at their annual developer conference known as Google IO back in 2015 and it went live on the 28th of May 2015. Simply put, Google Photos allows you to both backup and share photos with other people. It’s been almost a whole year since Google came out with the service. I have been using it since the day it came out and here are a few things have changed since my first impressions.
I want to first of all start off with the mobile app side of things. Google photos for smartphones and tablets is very neat. When you put the Google Photos app on your smartphone for the first time you will be greeted with a step-by-step setup process which is quick and easy. By default it’s set to automatically upload your photos when you’re on Wi-Fi and that’s what I would recommend. You can then rest assured that any photos you take on your smartphone going forward are backed up. This is a great example of photo and video backup done well. You turn on the automatic backup and then you don’t have to think about it and let your photos and videos be backed up for you.
As for the desktop app, it’s basically a backup app as per the above picture (yes this is taken from a mac but they have a PC app already). You can choose the folders that you want to backup to Google Photos as well as any content from your camera’s memory card/SD card. Again, once you have set up the desktop app to back up the folders that you want it to you can let it backup without having to think about it.
At first, I did not see a feature for adding albums by computer folder (this was also the case back in May 2015. What I mean by this is that we tend to store photos from our holidays in folders on our computers (e.g. Spain 2015) and then dragging them into Google Photos. As far as I know there is no native way to do this. I think that this is a feature that Google has overlooked but should add to Photos. With that being said there is a workaround.
When you are uploading photos in bulk via the Google Photos website on your desktop/laptop computer you will get a little progress bar come up. Let’s say you have some photos from a recent trip to New York, you would go to wherever you have your photos stored, select them all then drag and drop them into the Google Photos website. It will then show you how many of your photos have been uploaded in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. When it says something like finished uploading, you can then click on that progress bar and then create an album from those photos.
Google has done a really good job with their photo/video sharing feature. The way this works is that you simply select the photos that you want to share, click on the share button and get a link. From there you can copy and paste the link into any application you want to. The best part of all of this: If you are the one receiving a Google Photos link then you don’t have to sign up for an account. Whether you are receiving a Google Photos link as a message in Whatsapp, an email via your outlook.com or via a chat message on WeChat, You just simply click on the link that you receive and just like that you can view the photos. It’s that simple.
If you are on a smartphone or tablet it’s simple as selecting the photos that you want, choosing which app you want to share to(or copying and pasting the link) and that’s it! You can even press and hold on a photo or video then drag your finger to select multiple photos at speed.
As far as storage goes, Google has been very generous. Google photos allows you to upload unlimited “high quality” photos and videos for free. For photos “high quality” constitutes as photos with a resolution of up to 16 megapixels and for videos the limit is 1080p (AKA full HD). That’s OK actually, because for most of us only shoot with cameras whose capabilities does not exceed those limits. Most cameras do not even come near that resolution anyway. When you do the first-time setup on a smartphone or tablet that I talked about earlier the “high quality” uploads option is selected by default. Again, this is a big win because it’s a case of set it to automatically back up your photos and videos and let it go about backing them up to Google Photos.
If you want it to keep the original quality of your photos then those will count against your Google Drive storage allowance (which is 15GB of free storage). You can upgrade that to 100GB of storage for $1.99 a month (£1.50 a month) .
The only thing that you have to be wary about is your upload speed. Downloading photos is not an issue. It’s the uploading of 100s or 1000s of photos that will take a long time as most internet providers give you faster download speeds and slower upload speeds. In the grand scheme of things, the ability to have all your photos and videos backed up far outweighs having to wait a long time to upload all your photos and videos to Google Photos.
Final score: 9 out of 10
Overall I feel like Google have done a good job with Photos. Would I recommend creating a Google account just for this service? The answer is yes. This is because there is no other photo service out there that gives you free, unlimited storage. Sure, Flickr gives you 1TB, Microsoft gives you 7GB of free storage but that’s nothing if you have 1000s of photos and videos(like I do). More importantly there is nothing out there that has made it this simple to share photos to pretty much any service you want. I have not seen anything that makes it as easy as choose the photos, choose the place that you want to share your photos to, send and you are done!