Google Photos: Creating Albums In A Flash

Gone are the days of hunting through thousands of photos on your phone or computer, desperately trying to find last year’s holiday pictures or the office Christmas party five years ago. Thanks to the new app by Google Photos, they will all be safely stored in the relevant albums, with no user input necessary. Although only 10-months-old, Google Photos has more than 10 million active users. This overwhelming popularity can be ascribed, firstly, to the service being free, and secondly, to the myriad of features on offer to make the managing, storage, and sharing of your photos less time consuming and tedious.

The newest of these features will help pick out the best pictures for your albums after an event or vacation. In the case of a trip, the app will compile a map showing the route traveled, with location pins being added so that users can see where each picture was taken.

The album suggestions will be made by the Assistant, a tool that runs through your photos, offering advice on edits and features to enhance or improve your pictures. Text and captions can be added by the user, and there are options to allow other users to add related pictures to the album.

While Google has always suggested and created albums, this is a first in that your best photos are automatically selected, and duplication of photos is eliminated. According to Google Photos product manager Francois de Halleux, there are a number of ways these photos are selected.

As far as location is concerned, often shots that contain landmarks are chosen as best shots. Google has 255,000 landmarks that are automatically recognized. Using these landmarks and geotags, location is determined. “It’s a combination of both computer vision and geotags. Even without the geotags, we’d be able to recognize a landmark.” de Halleux said. Google’s technology in image recognition is such that in a search, not only could it determine the difference between, let’s say a dog and another similar mammal, it can even determine the breed of dog in question.

The prompts for album generation are not only the distance travelled from home, but include the number of pictures taken over a short period of time, and whether or not they are taken on a significant date like a national or religious holiday.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 06: Peter Birch, Google Product Manager for Google Earth, shows an image of new 3D map rendering during a news conference about Google Maps on June 6, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Google announced new upgrades to Google maps including a feature to download maps and view offline, better 3D mapping and a backpack camera backpack camera device called Trekker that will allow Street View to go offroad on hiking trails and places only accessible by foot. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Other album suggestions will come from the assistant as it picks up people that seem to have significance to you. It identifies people that feature regularly in your pictures and searches group shots containing them, choosing ones that qualify as the best shots, with the subjects smiling and eyes open. Users can then tag people in the photos as they see fit, as Google will not assign identities to them. “We think it’s a way to get all the benefit of this face-grouping stuff without any of the creepiness or problems that might ensue from it,” says Google Photos product lead David Lieb. “We think it’s the right place to be on that privacy spectrum.”

Although Photos comes with unlimited cloud storage and costs nothing, there is a catch. Pictures are limited to a maximum of 16-megapixel resolution and videos up to 1080p. All photos stored on the cloud are compressed, this, however, does not affect the quality of the pictures noticeably, even when zooming in. If you choose to save your photos without having them compressed, you can only do so under the old plan where you are charged if you exceed your Google drive limit.

The new Assistant-created album is currently available on the Google Photos app for Android and iOS, as well as the web version of Photos.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]