8 Super Handy Things I Just Learned About Google Photos

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8 Super Handy Things I Just Learned About Google Photos


Google Photos Is Here!

Google just launched a free, unlimited photo storage service. They’re calling it — wait for it — Google Photos.

I met with Google shortly after the announcement, and they mentioned all sorts of neat tricks they didn’t get around to discussing in the keynote.


It's crazy good at identifying random stuff in pictures.

You can use the search bar to find some super specific stuff in your photo collection.

Photos from Hawaii? Sure — it’d be weird if it couldn’t find those quickly.

But being able to type “Millennium Falcon” and find an album of Millennium Falcon photos I took a year-and-a-half ago and totally forgot about? Crazy. I didn’t tag this photo “Millennium Falcon” in any way. It just knew. It also worked with “spaceship.”

It can find pictures of your dog with a search for “dog” — or you can get super specific, with a search for something like “Golden Retriever.” It doesn’t work 100 percent of the time, but when it does, it’s a trip. It’s a bit like having Google Image Search for strictly your own photos.


Quick Scrub

Whenever you scroll in Photos, be it on the web or in the app, a date bar will pop up on the right side. If you grab this date bar (by tapping/clicking and holding it), you can scroll super quickly yet with a high degree of precision.


It'll (often) identify where you took a picture… without geotagging data

Say you have a photo from Paris, backed up from an older camera from 2003. It’s timestamped, but not geotagged with a location.. but the Eiffel Tower is in the photo.

Google Photos will tag the photo as being in Paris because of the Eiffel Tower, and it’s smart enough to know that any photos timestamped within an hour or so are probably in Paris, too. “We take limitations of physics — how fast you could reasonably move — into account here,” says Google Photos’ product lead David Lieb.

The photos shown here, for example, did not have geotagging data attached.


It can free up space on your phone automatically

If Google Photos detects that your phone is running low on space, it’ll offer up a button that can clear your device of any photos that are already backed up to the cloud.


You Can Export All Your Photos In A Click

Google Photos is compatible with Google Takeout, the service Google built to get your stuff off of Google. If you have a couple hundred gigs of pictures on Google Photos and want it back on your personal hard drive, you can export them all in one fell swoop.


There Are Actually Two Storage Tiers: One Free, One Paid

While the main draw of Google Photos is the free, unlimited storage, there actually is a paid plan available.

If the free plan offers unlimited storage, what’s the draw of a paid plan? Turns out…


It compresses your photos

If you’re using the free unlimited storage option, Google compresses your photos if they’re above the 16MP cap. They pledge up and down that the compression they’ve built is essentially lossless to the human eye (even when zoomed), and showed me many examples to prove it — but purists will want to know.

If you’re using the “Original” plan, which keeps your file in its original form, you get 15GB for free — the same 15GB that’s already shared across your Gmail/Drive accounts. After that, it’s $2 a month for up to 100GB or $10 a month for 1TB.


Manual Awesome

Google+ isn’t perfect, but it has at least one particularly rad feature: the so-called “auto awesome” robot.

Auto-awesome takes your photos and videos and makes new creations out of them in logical ways. Take a bunch of photos in rapid succession, for example, and it’ll turn them into an animated GIF. If you film a bunch of video and take a bunch of pictures on one day, it’ll combine them into a cutesie movie.

The catch: Until now, auto-awesome was only auto. There was no way to say “Hey, Google+! Take these photos and make a sweet video collage!”

With Google Photos on mobile, you now can. Just select a bunch of photos, then hit the Plus icon in the upper right. From there, you can make auto-awesome style animations, collages and movies.