Google announced Google Photos at its 2015 I/O conference. What immediately caught my attention was the fact that you could get unlimited cloud photo storage for FREE! This reminds me of a saying “if you are not paying for a product, you are the product.” That may very well be the case, but I figured I should give it a go and compare it to iCloud Photos.
First impressions are really good. I downloaded the app to my iPhone and went about uploading about 250 photos. I wanted to give it a fair performance test and also test out the “auto edits” it suggests. Within half an hour, I’d uploaded all my photos and a few videos and was ready to go. I found the iOS App had a few bugs in it, like I had to turn off syncing on mobile data TWICE, every single time I toggled the automatic sync option. This will give quite a few people a nasty surprise in the form of a mobile data bill.
The search demo they used when announcing Google Photos was a search for “selfie” and the phone returned all the selfies. This did not work for me and I definitely was a little disappointed. I then tried a few more searches and was impressed with the results. Most of the results were fairly accurate.
I was talking screen shots as I was doing this for this article and was impressed with the automatic upload speed. Within a second of the screen shot being taken, it was already uploaded.
The automatic edits it suggested were quite poor. Many were “collages” of 3 very similar photos put together so poorly the focus was removed from all the photos. One cool edit it suggested and I opted so save was the one below.
The edited one has a lower quality than the original but with these edits, they aren’t really meant to replace the original.
I have all the location info on all my photos and only one photo was auto added to an album and it was a Google Photo Sphere photo. This is a little disappointing as iOS divides up the photos very well. It also only narrowed down the location of my photos to Cape Town rather than more localised areas. It also did not group photos by faces as they indicated it would in the demo. It may just take some more time for them to add these features or for them to index (mine) all my photos.
I also don’t like the fact that there is no native Mac App. I understand that Google is an internet company but I like my photos stored locally so I can view them offline. This may take some getting used to though.
The last thing to mention is this is Google. That does raise great privacy concerns. I was very careful as to which photos I uploaded and would always have to be with a Google Product.
I will update this with any further details I encounter whilst testing Google Photos some more.