Google Photos is an App and web service that provides free unlimited backup for your photos and videos with the ability to edit, search and create unique collections. Images and videos can be saved to your Google Photos library from your phone, computer (Mac or PC), camera, or storage device. It is a single location to store your photos that become accessible on each of your devices. If you edit or delete a photo the update is available on all synced devices. Photos are privately stored unless you decide to share them.
Google Photos is a separate app and is not the same as Google+ Photos app, which can be confusing. The app icons are similar but the user experience is different. You will need to download the new Google Photos app and it does not require that you have a Google+ account. Google Photos was released June xxx, 2015 and has some unique powerful features that are very useful. However, in this version some of the features do not work perfectly.
Unique features of Google Photos include
Single place for backup, editing and creating – There are lots of apps that you can use to do any one of these tasks but few apps allow you to backup, edit, create, group, etc. And, even fewer services allow you to backup, create and edit for free!
Powerful search tool – You can search across all of your photos by putting in a key search term such as “dog”, “horses”, “sunsets”, “California”, “beach”, “Eiffel Tower” etc. Google will search your images and look for pictures that have the desired search term. This is an automatic feature and does not require that you tag photos for this to work. Google’s technology scans photos for key elements and automatically tags them for you. Be aware, while this feature can be incredibly useful it is not yet perfect. If you put in the search term dog you might get some pictures that have your dog but not all.
Automated creation of enhanced photo groups – Google Photos scans your images behind the scenes and makes suggestions for enhancing your images. It looks for related photos and will automatically create animations, collages, and stylized photos. You can choose to keep the auto generated creations or discard them.
Create Stories/Timelines – You can select a series of pictures to create a story/timeline then share them via texting and other social media services. This is more than a series of pictures as a timeline is generated that flows and displays like an animated storyboard.
Share photos, collections, etc – Not only can you share an individual photo or video clip, you can share your animations, collages, movie files, stories/timelines.
Create Movie with sound file – You can create compelling movies by tapping on photos, selecting a theme and music. You have a movie in seconds that you can share or save.
Browse/Search by Face – Google Photos automatically recognizes faces (even at different ages) and groups the images for easy browsing. Go to the navigation menu, tap Settings > Group similar faces to turn this feature on/off. Apparently this feature is not available in all countries.
Browse/Search by Places or Things – Similar to the browse by Face feature, Google automatically groups images by “Places” and “Things” for easy browsing.
Select Multiple Photos – To select multiple pictures quickly for adding to an album or of collections, Tap and hold on a photo. Without picking up your finger, drag across multiple photos in any direction to select them. This is faster than tapping each photo, however, using this method the photos you desire to select must be next to each other.
More typical features include
Creation of Albums – Along with the automated creation of animations and collages. you can manually create albums, movies, stories, animations and collages by tapping +.
Automated backup – In Settings, you can also select in app settings whether or not you want your photos backed up automatically. To access your photos on your computer go to photos.google.com.
Editing Features – Google Photos offers basic photo editing features – light, color, pop, vignettes, cropping and automated filters. This works fine for everyday pictures but if you are a more serious photographer you will probably need a better tool.
Navigation Features – Pinch your fingers together multiple times on your screen to zoom out to see photos by month and year. To see larger versions of the images zoom in by pinching then spreading your fingers apart. You can see photos in “comfortable” view or a single picture. You can also swipe left or right to navigate between features.
Pricing and Storage Space
You have the choice between a free version that stores an unlimited number of photos and videos in “High Quality” and a paid version that stores your photos at “Original Resolution”. Here are the key differences:
High Quality – Free unlimited storage – Photos are stored at a “great quality” at a reduced file size, particularly if the image is larger than 16 megapixels (MP). iPhones take 8 MP images. High Quality storage is great for images that are shared online or printed on typical printers. Images can be printed in up to 24 inches x 16 inches. For cameras that take higher than 16 MP images the photos will be downsized to 16 MP. Video higher than 1080p will be reduced to high-definition 1080p.
Original – Images are stored at the full resolution that your camera takes. This counts against your Google Drive storage of 15GB. This is good for DSLR cameras and when printing larger posters and banners.
You can change your storage setting anytime by going to Settings in Google Photos app. This will affect storage sizes going forward but will not resize previously stored images.
Direct Download Links
- iOS – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-photos/id962194608?mt=8
- Android – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.photos&hl=en