29 February 2020
Google Photos is the latest app from the technology giant that has at least a billion users. Photo: AFP
Google Photos is the latest app from the technology giant that has at least a billion users. Photo: AFP

Why Google’s photo storage app is a winner

It’s hard to imagine how life would be in the digital era without Google.

We use Google to search for information on the internet and the Chrome browser to access it. Most mobile phones run on Google’s Android operating system. We use Gmail to send and receive emails. YouTube gives us countless hours of free videos and music. Google Drive allows us to store and share files. We use Google Maps to locate a place and learn how to get there. Google Play offers a one-stop shop for apps, games, music, e-books and other online products. 

Each of these Google services has at least a billion users. Now comes the latest member of the club: Google Photos.

Google Photos is a crucial part of the Android smartphone as it provides a library for all the photos and images taken or received by the user. Some smartphone brands have their own photo apps, however.

Google Photos took only four years to reach the billion-users benchmark, much faster than other popular Google applications such as Gmail, which took almost ten years to hit the target.

The app is being used not only by users of Android devices but also by those using the iOS or MacOS for their iPhone, Mac and other Apple devices.

The most attractive feature of Google Photos is the unlimited storage it provides. It uses an optimization algorithm that compresses photos and videos, making it one of the web’s most popular free applications for organizing and editing photos.

Many iPhone users are not quite happy with Apple’s photo application, the iCloud Photo Library. The cloud-based app enables iOs and MacOS users to file, organize and synchronize their photos and videos under a single online library.

All the images are saved on the Apple iCloud storage, which is free of charge for the first 5 gigabytes of files but will cost users HK$8 a month for 50GB, HK$23 for 200GB and HK$78 for 2 terabytes. While iCloud storage can be used for saving other documents stored on the phone, Google Photos is absolutely free of charge, making it a winner.

Many iPhone users who have mountains of photo files to store encounter sometimes find it hard to deal with the iCloud photo library. The app uploads all the user’s photos to the cloud, but it also downloads thumbnail-sized copies of the images to the device for easy retrieval.

That’s fine, but if you have hundreds of thousands of photos in your library, chances are the voluminous files will drag on the speed of your device.

Google Photos, on the other hand, helps users to calculate the storage capacity of their device after they upload the photos to the cloud. This allows them to clear some of their photos for more space.

With its core competencies in artificial intelligence, search and cloud storage, Google is well-positioned to help users in managing their photo libraries. Frequent users will find that the app automatically creates collages and mini-movies, recommends photos that they may want to delete or those scanned from documents that they may want to archive. All these are signature features of Google Photos.

What’s more, Google Photos provides the service without any commercial or business considerations as it is not considered a part of the company’s business model. Users will not see advertisements from Google.

Google Photos only tries to make money by offering additional storage subscription for full-size photo storage and printed-on-paper photo books.

As it protects the privacy of users, the service will boost user loyalty to Google products. 

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EJ Insight writer