It’s important in this age of photo snapping and sharing that we who care about preserving the precious memories we capture have a safe and reliable way of saving, sorting and accessing our digital media files. We can’t just keep buying phones with more and more space on them to hold these files. Well, we can, but there is a much easier way. I’m not talking about dropping a scheduled payment on a cloud service either. I’m talking about something FREE.
Now I have tried just about every online photo solution out there at one point or another. Let’s be clear; there is photo storage and there is photo service. Some solutions try to be both. This post isn’t really about photo services like Shutterfly and Snapfish, but I know plenty of people who use these services as photo storage. Do I agree with that? It depends. I like photo services because I can easily order photos online or from my phone. Even the Walgreens app is slick at this. Probably the best, really because I can go pick up my photos in an hour and it doesn’t get much more instant than that. But what these photo services lack is the auto organization that I need. You wouldn’t use a butter knife to carve a turkey. Well I don’t want to rely on a site designed for creating photo books to store my treasured memories in a digital form. I used to use flickr as my photo storage and I still have a lot of photos stored there at full resolution, an amazing feature that I used to PAY FOR and is now free as far as I know. I got into flickr back in the day when I was always uploading the photos I took on my digital camera. The flickr app for mobile devices is clunky though and I was never sure everything was getting sucked up into that cloud when I needed to make space on my phone.
This is a newer player to have entered the arena by the name of Google Photos, launched May 28, 2015. I didn’t personally discover Google Photos until that December but my life has been changed ever since. Here are the top 7 reasons I use Google Photos over other photo storage apps out there.
- Google Photos automatically syncs your photos from any device. Yes, that means your phone, computer, tablet, your kid’s iPod, or any other device that you add the Google Photos app to and turn on auto sync. You can choose to only sync over wi-fi if you’re worried about data. Also, I still use a digital camera, albeit a much more fancy, advanced camera than my little old powershot from back in the day. It’s one of the most beautiful sights to open up my Google Photos app on my phone and almost immediately see all the beautiful shots I captured with my digital camera.
- Google Photos will sync video too. Did you take a slew of videos at your daughter’s dance recital last week? A battery of footage of your son’s grand slam? Don’t worry, those files get automatically backed up too. High-five Google!
- Google does not charge for storing photos or videos on Google Photos. Sort of. You can choose to upload your photos to Google Photos at full, original resolution and they will give you 15GB free. After that you pay per month. However, they will allow you to upload your photos to Google Photos at what they call ‘High Quality.’ Trust me, unless you are Ansel Adams, you won’t care. High quality is high quality. I throw these pics up on my 55″ TV and I am serious, photos or video, it’s great. I use images I have backed up to Google Photos on this here blog and you aren’t scoffing at my low quality images or anything right? Let me know in the comments if you are! Besides, people. I took most of these pictures WITH MY PHONE. What kind of world do we live in?
- Google Photos has the searchiest interface ever. Of course, because they are Google. Type in a location or a date. Search through your videos, selfies, or screenshots. You can even SEARCH BY FACE, PEOPLE. The ONLY improvement I would make is that the iPhone automatically sorts photos based on what app they are saved from. I would love to see these types of tags roll over into Google Photos. You cannot, for instance, bring up all of your Instagram photos in search.
- Google Photos has this thing called assistant. The assistant will build you albums, collages, and animated gifs out of your photos. You get to choose whether or not you want to add them to your photos, but if you don’t like them, you just swipe them away. No muss, no fuss.
- Google Photos does shared albums well. This has got to be true for the all time collaboration guru that is Google. Create an album to share with another Google user and be amazed. Kid’s birthday party coming up? Create a shared album and ask all your friends to ‘dump’ their photos in there so that you don’t have to worry about taking pictures and can focus your sweet time on your precious little birthday boy or girl.
- Google Photos will delete photos off your phone so you can free up space. It only does this when you tell it to and it will only delete photos it has already backed up. I have not lost one single photo in this process. There is even a fail-safe in that on an iPhone, you have to go into your Albums in your Photos app and clear out the Recently Deleted photos before they’re officially and forever gone from your device. Yet they are still, always and forever accessible in your Google Photos app.
A couple of additional features that I love, but may not be applicable to everyone, or at least not as exciting, are the ability to bounce around between accounts on mobile devices, and the mobile app is set up to Chromecast.
So what does all of this mean for how I use Google Photos on a daily basis? On the outside, I don’t. I only go into the app when I need a photo that’s not on my phone anymore or if I need to free up space on my devices. But in the background, Google Photos is always there, backing up my photos, organizing them into albums based on date and location, creating collages and movies for me or just giving me good ideas for what to do with my photos. I’ve got shared albums set up on my Chromecast so when I turn on the TV I see pictures of my beautiful babies before I start Chromecasting Game of Thrones.
It won’t hurt to try it, so why not?
Leave me your comments, ask me some questions. I love to discuss technology and productivity.