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    • Google Photos is one of the best services to come out of Mountain View in recent years, and user statistics show it. Last year, Google reported that more than 500 million people use the service every month, and we collectively upload more than 1.2 billion photos and videos each day. I can only assume those numbers have risen since then.

      A service wouldn't garner so much usage if it weren't good, and believe me, Google Photos is very good. I personally have been using it since it was launched, and I haven't looked back. These are my five best features of Google Photos.

      Free unlimited storage

      Easily the most important feature to everyone who takes photos. All your photos and videos taken on your phone are automatically backed up to your Google account. This makes them easily accessible to you from any computer at any time of day. No need to manually transfer them from your phone to a computer, no need to manually trigger an update. Best part is that there's no limit to how many photos and videos you backup (only caveat being that photos are capped at 16MP and videos at 1080p). In a world where important moments in our lives are captured by our smartphone's camera, having the peace of mind knowing that all your memories are stored safely online can be a wonderful feeling.

      Facial recognition

      Google Photos is remarkably good at facial recognition. It's because of this that photos can be grouped by face, making it easier for you to find photos of your friends or family. Facial recognition is also helpful as it enables other features, which I'll touch on in the next section.

      Easier photo sharing

      Imagine you and a bunch of friends get together for a birthday party. You each take dozens of photos on your own phones. How would you go about sharing those photos with each other? Would everyone post their photos to their respective Facebook or Instagram accounts? Would you share it in a messaging group like on WhatsApp? Many people do this, but it's very messy and disorganised. A better solution would be to create a "shared album" in Google Photos where everyone can upload their photos. One central location for everybody's photos, backed up and available to everyone from any device.

      Shared libraries is another way Google Photos makes sharing easier. If you and a loved one constantly share photos with each other, you can just link your libraries together and any photo you take will automatically appear in your loved one's library, and vice versa, eliminating the need to manually share photos with each other. You could also limit it to just photos of a particular person or multiple people. So a mum and a dad could link their libraries together and any photos they take of their children will instantly be shared with each other. But how does Google Photos know which photos to share? Facial recognition. Google can recognise people in photos (with great accuracy I might add), and if you set your shared library to only share photos of a particular individual, only photos with that individual in it will be shared.

      Facial recognition is also helpful for sharing outside of shared libraries. If Google Photos recognises somebody in your photos, and you have linked that face to a contact, it will ask if you would like to share those photos with the person. Facial recognition together with these sharing features make Google Photos very useful for friends and family who love to share photos with each other.

      Google Lens

      Google Lens isn't exactly exclusive to Google Photos. It's a standalone product. However, it is accessible via Google Photos, which is probably the most common way people will access it. If you don't know what it is, it's basically Google Search, but for real life images. It will scan your photos, and tell you what is recognises. Here are a few of my own personal examples.

      Assistant

      Lastly, the Assistant. Not to be confused with the Google Assistant, the Assistant in Google Photos works by giving you automated suggestions from time to time. For example, it gives you throwback photos from a year or more ago to show you what you did on this day. It can also make a collage using a recent photo of you and a friend and an older photo to see how you've changed (or not) over time. Assistant can also make enhancements and edits to some photos which you might like. It can also extract portions of a video you recorded and convert it into a GIF, or take a bunch of similar photos you might have taken and convert those into a GIF. It can also create albums for you if you took a lot of photos at an event, and on special occasions like Mother's Day, it can even create a special video for you using photos of your mum.

      So yeah, like I said at the beginning of this post, Google Photos is one of the best products Google has ever made. It's not just another gallery app for your phone, it's so much more than that. With features like the Assistant, all the sharing options, and most importantly, free unlimited backups, I really do encourage others to use this service. It's sure better than relying on Facebook and WhatsApp to store your photos.

    • What a fantastic review. Although I confounded SmugMug, I am completely reliant on Google Photos. I bet I’m one of their most lucrative users with 30 TB of storage I pay for there.

      I pay because I don’t want my photos resized and I like to store RAWs and 4K video.

      I use it for the face and scene recognition. Once you have all your photos and videos there and you tell it who people are, it’s face recognition is astounding. It even picks up faces in reflections in windows. Both in videos and photos.

      And the scene recognition! Half the time I type in something like bicycle to find an old photo I’m looking for.

      Trying a share link:

    • Hope you're working on integrating Google Photos into Cake. It'll be great if we could import photos rather than posting a web URL 😀

    • Google Photos is very good. It is a superset and a subset - it has things that traditional gallery sites like flickr etc...

      * It is a free lower resolution (but good enough for web) personal storage hub of non shared images that can be selectively shared or on my Android Phone, delivered to other phone apps like Facebook etc...

      It however lacks some really basic features that drives me up the wall.

      * You can't nominate a sort order to the albums in general use or when being used to say move a photo - the sort system is fixed and is based on whether there was any recent photo added to the album. Let us say, I have an album called My Face and I made it 5 years ago. I want to add a new photo to the album. When I select a new photo and want to add it to this album, I can't get to the album - it is not in alphabetical order and since it was made 5 years ago, it is not in the top 5 albums to be presented.

      * With all this exodus out of G+ to other social platforms, there is no standard screen to grab the image url. You can share the webpage url that contains the embedded image but not the image. On Cake, the link in the post turns out to be a small thumbnail.

      #googlephotos

    • You can share the webpage url that contains the embedded image but not the image. On Cake, the link in the post turns out to be a small thumbnail.

      Yup, this has been brought up more than a couple of times here on Cake. The team is aware of the request. We just have to wait and see what they decide to do.

    • I've been using it since Day 1 and became a paid subscriber too (100 GB). The facial, object and location recognition was the driving force for my purchase as well (bye-bye endless scrolling).

      This particular photo impressed me the most. I shot it with a Nikon in Japan and uploaded to Photos and it can recognise it as a "petrol station" 😮

    • I have some frustrations too, like when it doesn't recognize a few photos of a set with a certain person, or I don't know how to force an identification of a photo to a person. Maybe I'm missing something?

      But I get an endless kick out of searching for something random like "lion" and having it turn up this shot of my dog when I was goofing around with lights and using him as the model.

    • It would be great if Photos worked like this for everyone. Google has always left a bunch of countries out of the loop for no good reason, or at least no reason that they care to share with us.

      Most of the great features of Photos (like facial recognition, automatic albums, lens) either don't work in my country or only work in the most basic sense.

    • Ah I didn't know about this! Thank you for the video. I followed the steps, now I just have to wait. I hope it works as advertised because that would be awesome! I also sent feedback to Google asking them to activate the feature in Europe. I figure the more people do it, the better the chances.

    • Amusing Malapropism in your first sentence since your family doesn't want you to be a SmugMug backseat driver. Instead of "cofounded" you wrote "confounded" 😃

    • Hahaha. 😁 I still use and love my SmugMug account. It's where I put all the keepers for the world to see. The display is so lovely. But Google Photos is where I put everything so I can find them via people and object search. It's costing me a fortune, though, so I don't know many people who would do it like I am.

    • Instead of complaining to Google, complain to those who created the regulations in Europe which caused this restriction.

      When governments impose restrictions and penalties on companies, there should not be any surprise when those companies quit providing services which cause them to be affected by the regulations.

    • I won't do that, because Google's (and Apple's) face recognition apparently doesn't go against the regulations. I do enjoy having some modicum of privacy allowed in Europe instead of letting companies do everything they want.

    • Yes, I have noticed that those who are not lawyers and legislators in Europe seem to be very quick to assume that they understand all the legal ramifications of these regulations.

      When courts have not yet settled what a legislation does and does not mean, companies often have the attitude, its better to be safe than sorry.

      (My apologies beforehand if the pronouns in the following paragraph should be feminine instead of masculine.)

      I'm sure that @Draconicrose thinks he knows what the law means but unlike Google he won't have to hire a legal team to defend himself if he is wrong.

    • Chris MacAskill
    • Google Photos has to have you specifically opt-in to letting your face surface in other people's photos. It's a setting under "group similar faces" and it says:

      "Help your contacts' Google Photos apps recognize your face in photos for faster sharing."

      Imo, the problem with Facebook's is that they never told anyone about what was happening and didn't give people the opportunity to opt-in if they wanted to partake in the feature. User consent really is everything, which explains why Facebook got in trouble and Apple didn't. I'm sure Google wouldn't get in trouble if users had to opt-in after being adequately informed.

    You've been invited!