Last week Google announced its new cross platform photos app Google Photos (not to be confused with Google+ Photos). There are numerous online photo storage services, such as Flickr, Instagram, Photobucket, Shutterfly, iCloud, Amazon Cloud, just to name a few. What makes Google Photos stand out from the crowd is that it comes with unlimited free storage for photos and videos. Compared with Apple’s 5GB free storage and Amazon’s unlimited storage for photo and 5GB for video for $11.99 a year, Google’s offer is a game changer. Google Photos is available as iOS app for iPad and iPhone, Android app, Windows app, and through browsers on desktop. Photos will be synced across all devices.
From a pure technology viewpoint, this is an exciting and well-designed product. In practical usage, there will always be concerns about privacy and confidentiality. Yes, Google automatically scans every single image you put on Google Photos for content identification. There is no opt-out on this. However, you do have the option to turn off facial recognition and geotagging. If you have sensitive photos and confidential documents, obviously the common sense approach is to keep those offline. If you have no problem storing pictures on Facebook, Instagram and Flickr, or any of the countless online photo sharing and storage sites, you should feel quite comfortable using Google Photos.
Google seems to be making an effort to gain trust from its users. To help users understand and control their privacy settings, it has recently released a new privacy and security hub that details your security settings across all the Google services (Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Drive, Photos, etc.). But this is for another post…
For now, if you already have a Google account, Google Photos is yours to play with. I encourage you to experiment with it and enjoy the discovery.