The iPhone and iPad come with a Photos app that is pretty good, but Google Photos beats it by a wide margin and if you haven’t tried it recently, you should. It is brilliant.
Like a lot of Google apps, Photos was originally part of the Google+ social network and it was only last year that it was launched as a separate stand-alone service. It was a bit bland when it was originally launched, but Google has continued to tweak it and develop it, and it has grown into a fantastic service that now beats Apple Photos and iCloud, even on Apple hardware like the iPhone and iPad.
Google Photos is a free iOS app and it requires a Google account. The app backs up all your photos and videos and stores them online in your account. They can be viewed on the iPhone, on the web at photos.google.com and in Google Drive.
If you have the Google Drive app installed on your PC or Mac, photos are synced and appear on the disk drive, too.
Provided the photos are under 16 megapixels, and all iPhone photos are, then Google will store an unlimited number of photos. You can shoot and store an unlimited number of photographs, and it does not use any of the 15GB of free online storage that comes with a Google account.
You don’t even need to worry about filling the phone’s memory because there is an option in the settings to delete photos that have been backed up. This clears space for you to shoot even more photos. Space is one advantage of Google Photos.
You can limit uploading of photos to Wi-Fi so that no mobile data is used, but if you have a big data allowance you can enable uploads at any time.
What I like most about Google Photos is the intelligent tools that it has. If you shoot two slightly overlapping photos, the Photos Assistant notifies you the next day that they have been combined into a panoramic view. You can see it and save it if you want.
The iPhone is quite capable of creating panoramic photos, but taking two or three shots and letting Google Photos stitch them together is quicker and easier. There are no menus, no buttons, and absolutely nothing to do. It just works.
Sometimes you don’t even realise that a panorama is possible and it is only when you receive a notification a day or so later that you realise what has happened. You were taking lots of snapshots and a couple accidentally overlapped. Photo Assistant says “Hey, we noticed that some photos overlapped, so we turned them into a panorama. Do you want to save it?” Maybe not those exact words, but it’s something along those lines.
If you go away on a trip and take photos, not long after you get back there will be a notification and when you check it out, Google Photos has made a story out of the photos and videos you took. You can view it, save it, share it on social media and so on.
It picks the photos, adds captions such as location, adds a map, and creates an interesting story. It’s very clever considering that it is auto-generated with absolutely nothing to do on your part.
A common way to make photos more interesting is to use a photo app or Instagram to apply filters and effects. Every now and then, Google Photos will notify you that it found an interesting photo and applied special effects to it. You can view the results and save it if you want to keep it. It is another really clever feature.
It sometimes takes several photos that are similar and turns them into an animation. It is all automatic as with the other effects.
Google clearly has some computer algorithms that periodically scan the photos looking for overlapping ones to turn into panoramas, looking at the geolocation information in order to create stories from trips, looking for interesting photos to apply special effects to, and so on.
I love the way Google Photos does these things and the results are often excellent. It adds value to the Google Photos app in a way that Apple Photos doesn’t. Apple’s app seems poor in comparison and it offers very little, whereas Google Photos is exciting and you never know what it will make from your photos next.
Title: Google Photos
Size: 79.7 MB
iOS: 8.1 or later
Verdict: Google Photos is better than Apple Photos in every way
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Published: 23 February 2016