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This article was first published here in 2015 when I joined the Google Photos after its initial release. I was excited and couldn’t resist to share my views on this blog. Since then, 2 years have gone by. In this article I share with you how I feel about this service now in September 2017.
I must admit that before 2015, I had never thought about using the cloud storage for my photos and videos.
I always kept them on my laptop.
And almost always struggled with the space and backup issues.
When I got a little more organised, I started using an external hard drive. Even that was a hassle to transfer the stuff over between different devices.
Or what if the external drive malfunctions?
Then came the announcement from Google I/O 2015 event that the company is going to offer free and unlimited photo and video storage (16MP stills and 1080p videos) to its users.
It was hard to resist.
I thought about it for a few days and then I jumped on it.
Since then, I have never looked back.
Over two years on, I have uploaded thousands of photos and videos on Google Photos and enjoyed this free service by Google. As a satisfied user of this media storage solution by Google, I share in this article the 5 main reasons why I endorse this service and suggest you to give it a try.
What makes “Google Photos” an extremely attractive cloud photo storage offer for a common user?
Soon you will know my views.
reliability and reputation of Google (Photos)
As an Android fan, a Chromebook user and a die-hard Chrome OS follower, I trust Google.
It has never let me down to an extent that I look elsewhere. For years, Google has served its cloud customers well (generally) – have a look at some of the big names that trust Google for its cloud service.
I have found the Google Photos to be a reliable service.
My repository of photos is always a few clicks away from me. Fast to access and always responsive. I can’t recall when was the last time Google Photos was down or there were any crashes that prevented me to access my data.
I am not hesitant to say that I trust Google (cloud) more than my external hard drive which still has a few thousand photos stored in it. And lying in the corner of the cupboard in my room.
Reputation is next.
It is built on trust which is a big factor when you decide to pick up your cloud partner for storage purpose.
You are effectively giving all your data to a trusted partner/company to take care of it. This is not something that you want to change and migrate your data every few months. You just need to pick the right service and stick to it.
I know that all my pictures and videos will be in the hands of Google and they can use it however they like under the terms and conditions of using the service.
But I am not worried.
I know that Google is a massive advertising business through its search service and my pictures along with their linked data may be used to improve their “advertisement intelligence” and overall knowledge base.
I can live with it.
They may have some more high-level strategies as well but nothing that worries me as a common user. I don’t spend time to dig holes in the Google’s policies and find faults with their service.
To me, it is a mutually beneficial relationship between Google and its users which is based on good faith and intent.
I am in.
Do you trust any other company such as Microsoft, Apple or Amazon (or any other) more than Google and if so, what makes you think that way?
Google Photos offers free unlimited storage
Unless you are a professional photographer, there is a high possibility that you are comfortable with storing your photos with up to 16MP resolution.
If you want full resolution storage without any compression (say 20MP pictures from your DSLR or Sony Xperia Smartphone camera), your unlimited storage option does not apply. You will have to use it from your allocated Google account’s quota (generally 15GB for free accounts).
Similarly, 1080p video resolution is well-acceptable for most of us with our point and shoot and smartphone cameras. Again if you are a video enthusiast and like 4K and 3D videos etc., you will need to store them from your allocated drive storage quota if you exceed 1080p video resolution.
So within these two boundaries (16MP and 1080p), you can store any amount of pictures and videos for free on Google Photos.
A common user like me who falls in this category will perhaps find it hard to resist this offer.
Unlimited, free and with big name behind it. Simple.
The big question is how much image quality do you sacrifice when Google compresses your pictures with free storage.
Frankly speaking, my eyes never picked up the difference.
I suggest this in-depth article at PhoneArena where Milan explains the difference between high quality (stored pictures) vs original pictures.
simple yet effective interface (and synchronisation)
You type in photos.google.com and you are in (provided you are logged in).
All your photos are stored by date with options and menus which are simple to understand, easy to navigate and intuitive to use.
There is a big search bar on the top which allows you to search your photos (more on it later). There is an upload button to add more photos to your collection from your local device (chromebook in my case).
The “settings” menu is brief and to the point. Google has not over-complicated the things here. The interface is designed to keep the audience happy and engaged through a simple and effective interface.
Google Photos app on Android (or even iOS) – a must-have app
Over 95% of my photography is done through my Android smartphone nowadays.
Gone are the days when I had a lovely Canon point-and-shoot for this kind of casual photography. I still keep my Nikon DSLR with me for special occasions but generally, my smartphone camera is decent enough for me to take memorable pictures.
Google Photos has a simple but practical app for Android and iOS users. The app is designed to smoothly upload the photos from your mobile phone to your cloud account. The app also allows you to view, share and download your photos as well through its interface.
Tune the settings for automatic uploads (preferably via Wi-Fi and subject to your data allowance) and job done.
All your pictures are (nearly) seamlessly being stored in cloud now.
I can’t praise this app enough and feel that it is a big plus point attached to the overall Google Photos offer. If you want a comparison of this app to rest of the competition, have a read of this article by Bradley Chambers (The Sweet Setup) – The best cloud photo management solution – Google Photos
Google Photos is search-enabled
There are two levels of search in Google Photos.
The first one is more conventional and a bit tricky to fully utilise.
If you describe your every photograph by physically writing the title for each picture, it will be searchable by its name – you type in the search bar and it returns your required results.
The idea is to make Google Photos a “Gmail of your image library” however in the real world, you are not going to label your every photo. You can do this in theory if you have time but let’s be real here, it is unlikely that you will do this exercise with your hundreds and thousands of photos.
This is where the second level of search comes in handy.
Google’s artificial photo intelligence jumps in which tries to categorise your library based on different aspects such as people, places, things and types. A super-useful feature which has a massive future and I can see this to flourish and expand in coming times.[/fusion_builder_column]
Google Photos facial recognition – special mention
Bear in mind that the facial recognition is not available everywhere. Due to the local privacy laws, this option is turned off in many parts of the world including Europe.
But I have seen it in action and I was super-impressed.
It can simply search through your whole repository and find the required people for you.
Or groups of people.
With decent accuracy.
If you are in US, I am sure you can access this service. Feel free to share your thoughts about this “people tag and search” feature if you have used it in Google Photos.
albums and sharing with Google Photos
One area where I love Google Photos approach is its storing logic – it is all based on dates, months and years to start with.
On top of that, you can create any collection of photos (album) of your choice, name it and share it with whoever you like.
You can even allow other contributors to upload their photos to a specific collection/album by giving them appropriate rights. So the repository can be populated through collaborative and collective working. Good for projects and assignments.
I am not big on sharing and I have not explored many dimensions of this feature in Google Photos yet. If you have been sharing photos through Google, let us know how satisfied you are with the user experience.
Google Photos for a common user – are you in?
I believe that Google has addressed a long-awaited desire of a common user.
Free, unlimited (within reason) and easy-to-use cloud photo storage.
2 years of using this service and I am still with it and want to stay with it.
I have not used other similar services such as Flickr, OneDrive, Amazon or Dropbox etc. For now, I am well-happy to keep my relationship with “Google Photos”. And take it further.
What about you ?
Which cloud photo storage do you use and why do you think it is better than Google Photos?
If you need more convincing, have a read of this article – Google Photos is Google’s best service — here’s why you should be using it.