In what can only be described as a very un-apple move the US-based company made famous for their walled gardens and ecosystem lock-in has today started a program to make it easy for users to migrate their Apple Photos and videos over to Google. I have to say from what I can see of the service it is exactly what you would want and is surprisingly user friendly.

The service is available in Australia, Canada, the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States and currently only includes transfer to Google Photos. We expect that Facebook might get added to that list, if the two companies stop squabbling over advertising ID trackers, as Facebook is also part of the data portability initiate.

To move you photos over you need to ensure:

  • You’re using iCloud Photos to store photos and videos with Apple.
  • Your Apple ID uses two-factor authentication.
  • You have a Google account to use Google Photos.
  • Your Google account has enough storage available to complete the transfer.

Once requested the move can take up to a week, however it all happens on the back end and does not require you to download and then upload the content which is fantastic, especially considering how awful the Australian NBN can be. It is important to note that not the entire library can be moved, some data and formats available in iCloud Photos—such as Smart Albums, Live Photos, or some RAW files—may not be available when you transfer your content to another service.

We’re not clear how these imported photos will affect your Google Storage limit, we assume that as long as you’re account is set to high quality that they will be transferred and stored for free for now. However, remember that Google Photos unlimited free storage is going away soon so if you’re interested, now would be the time to strike.

We have to give Apple a big tick here, while we’re sure their motivations are more about stopping regulation than serving consumers, perhaps this initiative does both. You can start the migration progress here.