You know those days when you painfully scroll through endless smartphone photo albums, deleting duplicates and bad photos while wishing you were doing something more interesting? Google Photos has brought them to an end and delivers much more besides. It’s genuinely a game changer, and Apple should probably hate itself.
Since Google Photos was announced, the search behemoth’s new app has been met with widespread praise from the tech community. The feature list is something special. The app, which is available for both iOS and Android, serves as an unlimited cloud storage, photo editing, and borderline-miraculous search service.
Google Photos is the first product in history to be backed up by unlimited cloud storage, so no more digging out the credit card once you’ve snapped your way to maximum capacity.
— Patricia Johnson (@johnspatricc) May 31, 2015
One of the most highly-prized features is a notification that Google will send you when you’re nearly out of space. Tap the button and it will delete the photos you have stored locally that it knows you also have stored in the cloud.
That means you can free up gigabytes of smartphone hard drive space with a single tap. Skeptics pointed out that a compression algorithm must be used to save space, ultimately resulting in an image quality drop. However, PetaPixel did a compression test with Google Photos, and the results concluded that
“In my personal opinion, all four images have the same perceptual image quality. Google’s method is remarkably good. The reduction in image quality is almost imperceptible, yet it manages to nearly cut the file size in half.”
Anyone still apprehensive might be interested to know that CNET also reported the same.
“The company demonstrated convincingly that the compression doesn’t noticeably degrade quality, even when you zoom in.”
— InventoryNinja (@inventoryninja) May 31, 2015
Compression issues (or lack thereof) aside, quality is capped with the current limitation of 16-megapixel resolution images and 1080p video. There’s no comment as to whether these will increase as 4k becomes more popular and resolutions in general increase, but it seems a reasonable speculation.
The news continues to be almost too good to be true when Google said that there will be no advertising, and the company has no plans to monetize the Google Photos. But it doesn’t end there.
Using the latest machine learning techniques, Google Photos knows who and what is in each image, making it easier than ever to search for photos among your albums. The phone can recognize image locations even if geolocation is turned off by cross-referencing landmarks against its database.
The release of Google Photos should also improve Google+ by separating the two services, helping the latter focus on social like it should rather than being a combination of both.
Got a favorite feature? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
[Image Credit: Getty Images / Justin Sullivan]