Photos can mean many things to many people, a cherished memory, an important record and much more. Before the digital era, people judiciously took each photo knowing they only had a limited number of shots until they ran out of film, not to mention the cost of getting them developed. When you got your precious images what did you do with them, organise them into large, bulky and heavy photo albums? Put them in a shoe box? Lose them?
Jump forward to today and with the advent of digital photography and the ubiquity of camera phones, not to mention social media image sharing, and people are far less judicious with their photos. Why take one when you can have 10, why not take photos of your food, feet or friends? We’re not even going to estimate how many selfies get snapped every day.
This new freedom of photography led to a new problem for people. Where to store the ever growing mountains of photos and how to organise this enormous photo collection? We’ve all had the experience of losing an image, in the moment, those images were the most precious thing we could ever have lost, and in some instances, they very well could have been.
Enter the Cloud. For a few years, various service had allowed you to upload and store you images on their servers, Dropbox, Picasa and Flickr to name but a few. However, no-one had nailed the full package, free storage of high-quality images, automatic sorting, easy search, auto-enhancement, editing tool and ubiquitous access.
At Google IO 2015, Google started a journey that would achieve all of that, and this is only the beginning. This was not Google’s first entry into the cloud photo space with both Picasa and Google+ photos offering good functionality to their users for years, however, Photos took the platform well beyond either of these services.
Google has a pertinacity to region restrict a product or service just to the US, sometimes indefinitely. We’re glad that Google Photos was not one such service. Launched with wide availability Google photos has gone from strength to strength over the past year. Now having over 100 million active users, I know I have set up dozens of accounts for friends and colleagues who all want to harness the power of Google’s AI powers in their pocket.
If you’re unfamiliar with the service or are interested in catching up on the progression of Google Photos here are a few links showing it’s progression from launch to the present state.
- 29 May 2015Google announces new Google Photos app and service
- 29 May 2015: Google Photos will give users unlimited high-res photo and video storage
- 23 July 15: Google Photos v1.2 now lets you adds photos to albums as well as photo descriptions and album cover pics
- 18 August 15: Google Photos gets editing enhancements
- 21 August 15: Google Photos to take a walk down memory lane with their rediscover feature
- 30 September 15: Google Photos gets improved functionality
- 18 November 15: Google Photos gets two new features on Android from today and a new web option
- 19 November 15: Google Photos now starting to offer to compress your photos on the web
- 11 December 15: Google Photos new Shared Albums feature lets you collaborate on photo albums
- 3 March 16: Google Photos updates with easier, faster navigation
- 23 March 16: Google Photos adds new features to better capture your holiday memories
- 30 March 16: Google Photos allows for non-destructive edits on photos
- 3 April 16: Google Photos is getting a manual backup option
- 12 May 16: Google brings commenting and smart suggestions to shared Albums in Google Photos
Google Photos has been an unequivocal success, it works, it’s delightful and it does genuinely surprise you with some of its auto-creating features. Whilst we aren’t expecting any big reveals for Google Photos at next week’s Google IO 2016, we do think that the success and growth of the service will be featured along with the power of AI. You never know they may even through in a new feature of two?
With Google Photos being such a success it makes you wonder what Google may try and “solve” this year, with their winning combination of Cloud, AI and ubiquitous access (sorry Windows phone users).
What is your favourite feature of Google Photos? Let us know below.