8 June, 2015
By Joe Callison
Google recently split the photo feature out of Google+ and made it a separate new app (application) called Google Photos. You can find it by clicking the Google Apps icon in the Chrome browser (9 small squares arranged in a 3 by 3 pattern), and then clicking the word More at the bottom. After reading several reviews by users, I decided to give it a try myself. I already had a Google account, which is free for anyone to create in the Chrome browser.
Google Photos is different from the Picasa app, which will also let you find, edit and share your photos, in some interesting new ways.
First, Google Photos will give you unlimited storage (that’s right, unlimited!) of photos that are not over 16 megapixels in size and video that is not over 1080p in resolution. When I uploaded the first batch of photos, I had to choose between letting Google Photos reduce photo file sizes if necessary (supposedly without any detectable loss of quality) to qualify for unlimited storage, or retaining the original file size by using my allotted Google Drive storage. I chose to let it reduce the file sizes, which it indicated would also be applied to future uploads. Instead of letting the app find all of my photos, I chose which folders of photos to upload by dragging each folder into the Google Photos app after clicking the cloud shaped upload icon. After uploading, I had the option of creating an album name for the collection of photos uploaded. I did find a bug in that about 25% of the time it would respond that it could not apply the name. I would just repeat the process of uploading and it always worked the second time.
The interesting stuff starts happening in the hours after you have uploaded several photos. Google Photos has software that analyzes the content of your photos and through a feature called Assistant, begins to automatically create Stories which are small samples of pictures from the albums, Collages, Panoramas by stitching together multiple photos that overlap, Stylized Photos such as conversion to black & white, and other features. You can choose to edit and save the automatically created items to your Library or delete them. Google Notifications are created to let you know when the Assistant has created something new for you to look at. It appears that the Assistant is a fun way to show you how you can create these kinds of presentations, and share them with others if you so choose, using the app. It will also automatically identify scenery and locations that it recognizes from its vast database and includes the ability to do searches for features in your photos.
There are other features that you can explore in the Google Photos menu accessed by clicking on the three horizontal lines at the top left of the app. I would not recommend using Google Photos as your only backup means for storing important photos, and the photo organizing features are not as flexible as other programs, including Picasa, but it is a great way to almost effortlessly organize, present and share your photos without having to learn a more complicated program.
I highly recommend at least giving the link below a look by paging through the demonstration!