Google Images is a mobile and web-based consumer photo processing program that allows you to organize, edit, and share your digital photos. Despite the fact that Google Photos‘ limitless online storage policy has expired, the software remains amazing and helpful. Artificial intelligence, which automatically creates beautiful content from your photos and suggests which photos to share with which people, even allowing you to have “photo dialogues,” is its major differentiator. In addition, to complement its amazing photo editing features, the business offers book printing and same-day photo printing through CVS and Walmart.
At the Google I/O 2021 virtual conference, new Google Photographs features such as a private Locked Folder, amazing (but rather scary) Cinematic Moments that animate two comparable photos, and new types of Memories based on trips or activities were introduced. There are also new features for suppressing Memories that you don’t wish to remember. Following that, the company launched a Magic Eraser similar to Photoshop, new printing options, and upgrades to Cinematic Moments.
GOOGLE PHOTOS SPECS
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Another key feature of Google Photos is its automated photo backup option, which is enhanced by the fact that you get 15GB of storage space for free. Given that Apple’s iCloud Photo Library only gives 5GB of free storage, it’s a compelling reason for iPhone owners to select Google Photo. Despite competition from quality photo editing apps in the Google Play app store, Google Photos will serve most Android users well.
What is the procedure for obtaining Google Photos?
To begin using Google Photos on the web, go to photos.google.com and sign in with your Google account, or do the same after downloading the mobile app. A free Google account comes with 15GB of storage, as previously stated. If that’s not enough space for your images, you can upgrade to 100GB for $1.99 per month, 200GB for $2.99 per month, or 2TB for $99.99 per year. Getting one of these also gives you access to Google One features in the Android app. OneDrive, on the other hand, costs $69.99 a year for 1TB of storage and offers downloadable Office productivity apps as well as decent online photo viewing. Flickr now only allows users to upload 1,000 photographs for free, but for $50 a year, you get unlimited full-resolution photo storage as well as a variety of community, organizing, and sharing tools.
Users of Apple devices get 5GB of iCloud storage for free, and may upgrade to 50GB for 99 cents per month or 2TB for $9.99 per month. Apple now offers Apple One memberships, although they cost $14.95 per month for the same 50GB of storage that a pure iCloud storage plan costs 99 cents per month. And Apple’s iCloud photo online interface lags well short of the competition, still lacking a search option.
If a cloud photo service’s goal is to collect all of your photographs from all sources, it should include desktop programs for Windows and Mac PCs, as well as mobile apps. Google Photos, like Flickr, iCloud, and OneDrive, has a similar app in the Download Apps menu: “Photos from your Mac or Windows PC, camera, or storage cards are automatically uploaded.” This will take you to the installer for the Backup & Sync software. It’s the same program that Google Drive users use, but after installation, you can choose to use it solely for photographs and videos.
We used a Windows 10 PC with a 4K touch-screen Asus all-in-one to test the app. We were given the option of low resolution or limited storage after logging into a Google account. The full-resolution option is available by default, which is ideal for SLR photographers. Auto-uploading from camera memory cards, My Pictures, and the Desktop folder are other options. You can open the web view or alter the upload settings from the system tray icon added by the program. Despite the fact that the program stated that photos had been posted, they did not display in Google Photos on another PC in testing, indicating that only newly inserted images are uploaded. The Flickr Uploadr, on the other hand, uploads everything from the chosen folders automatically.
Interfaces for the Web and Mobile
The UI is sleek, basic, and attractive, with thumbnails of your photographs grouped by date, as you’d expect from Google. Photos, Explore, Sharing, and Print Store are available from the top-left menu, while Favorites, Albums, Utilities, Archive, and Trash are available from the Library area below. A line graph shows how much storage you’ve used and how much storage you still have. Search, Upload, Help, and Settings are located in the upper right corner.
The familiar search bar is close at hand wherever you go in the app. When you click it, you’ll see choices for locations and photo kinds, such as screenshots or selfies, as well as automatically discovered faces. You can manually add items to the Archive area if you don’t want them to appear in search results but still want them in Google Photos. Documents and receipts, according to Google, are strong possibilities.
When Google Photos originally came out, the company made a big deal about its image search capabilities, but we weren’t that impressed. Although search has vastly improved, it is still not without flaws. You’re just as likely to see photographs of rodents and bunnies if you search for “cat.” When you look up pit bulls, however, you’ll usually find photographs of cute nanny dogs. It won’t always find the exact photo you’re looking for, but it will narrow down thousands of photos to a manageable number.
The Android and iPhone mobile UI are nearly identical. Both have Memories at the top, which are highlighted photographs from previous years, similar to how Facebook occasionally provides you a blast from the past. It does provide a method to interact with where you’ve been previously, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Android in general has more Google Photos possibilities, especially with two home-screen widgets: Memories and People & Pets. It’s also the only place where Google One subscription filters like Dynamic and Vivid may be found.
When you navigate to the Search tab by tapping the magnifying glass symbol, you’ll notice filtering choices like persons, places, screenshots, albums, movies, and so on. Google uses your location history and identified landmarks in addition to GPS data from your smartphone camera.
Google’s facial recognition is perhaps the most impressive feature. These days, almost any photo service can recognize a human face, and many of them can even group photos of the same person with astonishing precision. Google goes much further, detecting the same person throughout their lives. From 2004 to 2016, Google Photos readily identified photographs of Max’s brother and sister, ranging in age from 7 to 20.
It’s simple to reassign an image if Google gets it incorrect, and you can give each recognized person a name that only you can see. One caveat: it is still unable to recognize profiles. We also wish it had an option to remove persons tagging from random faces it discovers in your images of strangers.
When you click on a photo, it expands to full screen, and you can navigate around your collection with the arrow keys. A right-side panel with an Info button exposes the camera model, file size, and even a map for geotagged photos, which is common for photos taken on smartphones. You’ll see shutter speed, F-stop, focal length, and ISO for photos taken with digital cameras, but not the detailed EXIF data that Flickr and SmugMug provide. Unlike Flickr’s free account, the UI is ad-free.
On the Explore page of Google Photographs, the Things tiles display all of your photos of specific subjects such as Bridges, Sunsets, and Trains. You can’t tag photographs as you do in Flickr and Lightroom, but you may add text to the description.
Photo Enhancement and Correction
The photo editing and enhancing capabilities in the Google Photos online app are adequate. Light, Color, and Pop all have sliders, the first two of which may be enlarged with a down arrow to provide more detailed adjustments. I’m glad the web app allows you to alter shadows and black point. A vignette slider can also be used to create a pleasing effect. Only the appropriate regions of the image are affected by the skin tone and deep blue effects.
We had hoped that these tools would leverage facial and object detection, given the technology is clearly present in other portions of the program, but increasing the deep blue setting amplified other blue things, and increasing the skin tone did the same for orange objects. Another drawback of these editing tools is that you can’t go back and undo previous edits—all it’s or nothing. You can’t go back and undo edits either.
If you don’t want to deal with editing, there’s an Auto button that automatically balances the lighting and color of your photos. A dozen Instagram-style color and black-and-white filter effects, as well as Crop & Rotate choices, are included. An auto-level eliminates the need to fiddle with an on-screen protractor, as some programs do. It’s adequate in most ways, but it lacks the blemish and red-eye reduction features included in Windows Photos and Apple Photos. Adobe Lightroom offers complete control over photo editing and organization, as well as mobile apps that automatically upload to the cloud. This is a little more expensive, at $9.99 each month.
While some Instagram users are accustomed to blinging up their photos with artistic filters, others may not be. The Utilities tab is there for you. This shows photographs that have been automatically enhanced, panoramas, and even themed videos with music and camera effects. It’s also where the Cinematic photographs referenced above can be found, however we couldn’t discover any in our accounts. Any of these automatically generated items can be deleted or saved.
If you’re the artistic type, the Utilities section contains tools for making your own movies, collages, and GIF animations. These can’t be made from films or live photographs, unfortunately. These, too, have restrictions. It’s frustrating, for example, that you can’t change the size or position of composite photos. Worse, auto-generated movies do not allow for any editing. You can edit the constituent photographs (and video clips), effects, music, titles, and transitions in Microsoft Photos’ automatically made movies (and now Apple Photos, too).
The Magic Eraser function, which is new to Google Photos, can eliminate undesired elements from a photograph with a uniform background. A comparable function, known as “content-aware,” has long been available in Adobe and other photo tools. When you brush over an object, the background texture takes its place. We were unable to test the feature because it is only available on the Pixel 6 phone. If you don’t have Photoshop, PhotoDirector, or any tool that can do this, you can use Fotor or PicsArt, both of which are free online photo editors.
Google Photos, like Apple Photos, Facebook Photos, and Microsoft Photos, displays images from your collection that have unique meaning. Each can show you the best photographs from the same day or from previous travels. Google goes beyond this simple temporal formula, detecting “little patterns” to group photographs, such as those that all show you wearing the same orange bag.
Google Photos now has new options for concealing Memories that feature specific persons, pets, or time periods, in case seeing images from the past isn’t nice. The first two are made possible by image AI, which allows you to select sample photos of people or animals you don’t want to appear in your Memories.
Sharing and Social
The Sharing button has been updated to incorporate discussion entries for photo and album sharing similar to chatting. You can see everything you’ve shared from this perspective, and each of these postings becomes its own chat group, to which anyone can submit photographs and notes.
The Utilities section contains the Locked Folder. It’s used for photos that you don’t want to appear in the all photos view. Depending on your device, you can unlock the folder with a PIN or a fingerprint. This feature will first be available on Google Pixel phones, before being expanded to other devices. The interface is slick and attractive, but it’s just another location to check for messages when most people already use SMS, iMessage, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger, which also allows you to effortlessly attach photographs to discussions. When a new photo or comment is posted, participants receive an email and an app notice.
Google Photos, which is more geared toward private usage, lacks the favoriting and following that Flickr’s massive social photo community provides, not to mention the vast social possibilities that Facebook and Instagram provide. However, the business has brought back some features from its defunct Picasa service, including album comments.
Surprisingly, the Sharing icon also includes Facebook and Twitter as share options (but not Flickr or Instagram, which are more photo-centric), as well as a shareable link. Simply type an email address or a Google contact ID into the search field at the top of the Share dialog. That dialog provides useful contacts, such as individuals whose faces are recognized in the snapshot. This brings us to the functionality of Suggested Sharing.
When you tap the plus symbol to share an album with contacts, you’ll notice Suggested contacts, which are people the app believes you’d like to share it with. Some of the proposals were puzzling. Google felt it would be a good idea to share numerous virtually identical photographs of a sidewalk with no people in one set with Max’s sister. The recommendations appear to be based on who you’ve recently shared photos with rather than the content of the photos. When you have Shared Albums, Shared Libraries, and Share Groups for an arbitrary group of contacts, it can get a little confusing. At this stage, the sharing strategy may use some simplifying.
Printing of books and photographs
To begin making real souvenirs from your digital photographs, simply go to the Print store option on the left-menu. You can make fantastic holiday gifts by printing your images from Google Photos. You can get a book printed from your Google Photos for for $9.99 (or $19.99 hardback). That’s around half of what Snapfish or Shutterfly charge for their cheapest photo books. However, the Google entry-level book is just 7-by-7 inches, whereas the other services’ books are 8-by-8 inches. The pricing of the hardback book is comparable to Flickr’s photo books, which start at $28.99 for a 20-page 11-by-8.5-inch book, although the Google book is smaller at 9-by-9 inches.
With names like Best of 2021 and Trip to Arizona, the Print store proposes volumes to make from your images. You can play around with them and add or remove photos as desired (some pictures in the Arizona book were actually taken on Long Island, a very different environment). Finding replacement photos is simple and does not require you to leave the book design process. You can trim the selected images, move them around in the arrangement, add text captions, and choose whether or not to use borders.
Other picture book providers, such as Blurb or the one in Apple Photos, don’t offer nearly as many options. There are no options for size or paper other than paperback or hardcover, and you can just add the title.
If you only want to get your images into book form quickly, Google Photos is the way to go. Because Google Photos does all the heavy lifting for you, the service is clearly designed with ease of use in mind. However, you’re better off using one of the main photo printing services if you want a lot of options or personalization.
Google Photos also provides photo printing services. For 39 cents each at CVS or Walgreens, and 25 cents each at Walmart, you can get same-day 4-by-6-inch prints from your Google Photos. The cost of having prints sent is reduced to 18 cents per 4-by-6. Canvas prints for the walls start at $24.99 for an 8-by-8 wrapped canvas. For same-day service, the print costs are affordable, and CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart Photo all did well in our roundup of the Best Online Photo Printing Services.
You can choose to have a full album printed or any photos from your online collection printed. The ordering interface is simple and straightforward. Only by zooming in can you change the crop. You can’t construct borders by zooming out. Basic editing options, such as filters, light, color, pop, and crop, are also available in Google Photos.
After altering your images, you use a map to determine where you want to pick up the photos. When you click Order, your payment method linked to your Google account is charged, and your photo printing begins. Although there are suggested canvases on the Print store page, you can print any photo in your collection.
Google Photos added new size options for prints and canvases this past fall. 4×6, 5×7, and 8×10 prints are available, as well as four new larger sizes: 11×14, 12×18, 16×20, and 20×30. The second
You can still acquire an 8-by-8-inch canvas for $24.99, an 8-by-10-inch canvas for $32.99, an 11-by-14-inch canvas for $35.99, and a 16-by-20-inch canvas for $49.99. New and larger sizes have been introduced, including a 20×30 for $59.99, a 24×36 for $79.99, a 30×40 for $109.99, and a 36×36 for $119. Those are really reasonable costs. CanvasPop, for comparison, starts at $81 for an 8-by-10 and goes up to $264 for a 32×40, while Shutterfly charges the same $49.99 for a 16-by-20. You can rotate the image and choose black, white, or the photo for the edges when designing your canvas print. A simple 3D preview of your canvas offers an angle view. You can trim or utilize typical image-editing tools, just like with photo printing.
A Photo Cloud With Features
Google Photos is still a terrific deal because it provides 15GB of free online storage, but its simplicity of use, organization, and automatic upgrades set it apart. Many users will like the service’s sharing and printing features. Both Apple Photos and Windows‘ integrated Photos software offer better photo editing, but Adobe Lightroom—a GGT Editors’ Choice winner—offers the most editing options as well as cloud storage. Google Photos‘ cross-platform compatibility makes it a good choice for storing and backing up all of your photos, plus it comes with a few AI features.