There are many service vying for the honor of hosting our photos. But one is close to getting it right, and that’s Google. In this episode I explain Google’s recently introduced updated photo management software and why I think you should give it a try.
Google’s app installs on multiple devices. Then as you add images, it syncs these images to the cloud. Now a lot of services do similar but Google has tweaked its image analysis back end server software to analyse and organize your photos for you. I don’t know about you, but I am good at taking photos, not so good at organizing them. So I think this is great. What is even better is that Google is offering unlimited storage, with limitations on individual file size, for free. Apple offers this service but only stores your photos for a year from when they were created. So after a year, Apple deletes the photos. They give you the time to back them up to your main computer. But I think unlimited and forever sounds better.
If you want to try this out, go to Google.com and create an account. Its free. Then install the Google Photos app on all of your devices
IMPORTANT: If you don’t have unlimited data on your mobile device plan, make sure you set the app on each device to only upload when connected to wifi. Here’s how: Press the menu icon (three parallel lines) on the upper left of the app, select Settings and select Back Up & Sync. Make sure the two switches at the bottom of the screen, “Photos back up using cellular data” and “Videos back up using cellular data,” are turned off.
Now remember I said Google Photos is free and unlimited IF your pictures are no larger than 16 Megapixels. Anything larger than that, Google will compress. Now folkes, 16 Megapixels is excellent quality. Any videos you upload will be limited to 1080p which is HD quality. If you want to save uncompressed originals or RAW files, you can. Google gives you 15 GB of storage to share with all your Google apps including email, after that they charge $1.99 a month for 100 GB up to 30 TB for $299.95 a month. Not even ME, the SmartTech guy has 30 TB of data! So for now I am opting for the free version.
So install the app on all your devices, and check these settings on each one to make sure you have no data charge surprises.
You can also set this up on your computer. Log in on your computer. The bigger screen makes working with google easier. Click on the little tick tack toe squares in the top right. That takes you the app menu, scroll down to Photos. Look for the Desktop Uploader and then install it. This will let you set which folder or folders syncs with Google photos.
Now the fun begins. Just let it sync. It will upload all of your photos from your devices and folders to the cloud and make them available to you anywhere. You will also have search capabilities. You can search by people. In fact it will even do facial recognition and connect people over time. So as someone ages, it will keep track of them. You can also search by places you have been, and things. So, for example, if I type in “beach”, all the photos taken at a beach come up. Or I could type in “water”, or “San Francisco”. It is very smart and it makes finding photos really easy.
I can also share photos or photo albums straight to Google+, Facebook or Twitter, or come up with a sharable link to email to friends and family. Google Photos also has an assistant which will auto generate various projects like stylized photos or animations, which you can choose to save or not. You can also create the obligatory albums and what they call stories, which are album slide shows with movement.
Now nothing is free, so let me reiterate. Google makes its money by selling aggregate data. Meaning trends, searches, etc… But you own all your photos. So the privacy you give up is how you pay for the service. Google looking at my buying trends or search habits really doesn’t bother me, so I think it is worth it. I like that the ads I see on google are based on my searches so they really seem to interest me. Just go into this with your eyes wide open.
That being said, having your photos on multiple services helps you back up your precious memories, so I am using this for a backup service mostly. Also be aware that Google has a reputation of changing or cancelling services. But usually they grandfather previous users, so if you get in for free now, the chances are that your space will remain free.