A Deeper Look At Google Photos

Google Photos is a cloud backup and archiving database that may be used to store all of our photographs and videos. It's a replacement for Google's Google+ Photo Backup and for a short time the Google+ and Photos applications and services ran side by side. Google Photos has unlimited storage providing you restrict your images to what Google calls "high quality," which reduces the image size to 16MP if it's higher. It may also be used to store unlimited videos of 1080p resolution or lower. Customers wanting to store their media at a higher resolution will use part of their Google Drive storage space.

However, Google Photos offers more than a means of storing photographs. Let's take a look at a number of Photos' other features, starting with how Google maintains a comprehensive and thorough search database on our devices. Google Photos automatically organises media by date order but for the Android application, tapping on the Search icon (typically at the bottom right of the screen) brings up the search area. Here, Photos has automatically catalogued pictures into various categories: people, objects and places, but as you use Photos these areas fill up. This search and grouping engine is able to create computer models of faces present in your photo library and collate images of the one person, which you can easily tag. This tag is personal to your account but makes it much easier to find images of somebody. Furthermore, Google Photos also allows you the ability to hide a face from your photographs: this can be handy is you don't want to see an ex in your photographs, for example.

Google have shored up the uploading and storage management features of Google Photos, recognising that not everybody has a device with capacious storage. The application recently gained the option to scan your device with the ability to delete media that has been downloaded providing it has been safely uploaded to the cloud. You'll find this in the Settings part of Photos under "Free up device storage." When it comes to managing photographs in your account, Google have added a bin to the service: if you delete something and discover a few days later that you want it back, no problem as the account has sixty days before material is permanently deleted. Another neat trick of the media uploading side of Photos is that this is independent of the application: these settings are found in the Google Settings application as well as the Google Photos application. You don't need the application on your device in order to upload photographs into the service.

For those of us with a Chromecast, Google Photos is an ideal way of showing off our collection on the big screen. Photos includes the necessary software and Cast functionality; open a photograph or video and tap "cast icon" to send it to the television. On a related note, although Google Photos does not currently allow for the two way synchronisation of photographs on a device, there are a couple of ways to easily get media is copied to another device. One involves a third party application to synchronise a Google Drive folder with another device; for a desktop or laptop computer, you can use the Google Drive application. You'll have to make sure the option to show recent uploads in Google Drive is turned on. Another option is to use the Google Takeout service, which is a means of exporting all of your data in one large zip file. Tell the Google Takeout service that you want your media and let it do its thing.

The final set of features revolves around how to share photographs and media using Google Photos. There are several ways to do this: we can download and send the media, or we can share a link. It's also possible to create albums and share these - they can be view only or you can specify who has access to change the contents. When it comes to sharing media, the recipients do not need to have the Google Photos application or even the service in order to view a picture or video from your collection.

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About the Author

David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.