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.
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 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.
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.