I am officially converted to using the new Google Photos app

Google photos experience

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At Google I/O this week, Google officially introduced a new product called Google Photos. This a whole new experience “from the ground up” and I am officially converted to using Google Photos which means I will permanently ditch my stock gallery app on my HTC One. Google Photos isn’t the first cloud photo storage service, or the first media management platform, but my first impressions suggest Google has raised the stakes with its smart new system.

In a nut shell, Google Photos is a “home” for your photos. Organizes them and makes it easier to share them irrespective of whether you are using an Android phone or an iPhone. The app organizes photos by time, like how the iPhone organizes photos and once you permit it, it will auto-back-up your photos. There’s a scroll button you can grab to scrub through stuff more quickly. You can pinch to zoom out to months and years. (Yes, just like the iPhone.) As we shall see later, Google uses machine learning to organize by people, places, and things with no tagging required. And for the tweet freaks, you can tweet directly from the app something that I found rather neat. There’s a thing called “photos assistant” that shows you the auto-gifs it makes, and also just sort of tells you the other things going on in your photo stream. Plus you can tap and drag to multi-select photos.

Object recognition on Steroids

Google photos search
Object recognition search can easily find the Eiffel Tower, no need to tag the image
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Geotagging of photos is something we’ve taken for granted on smartphones and tablet cameras, while other photo storage services allow for manual organization by geography, Google Photos does it itself and in a surprising way. Google uses landmark recognition, to spot and identify over 250,000 different locations, buildings, and oft-photographed icons: so, if you stood in front of the Eiffel Tower but were shooting with an old DSLR, Google Photos will ID the buildings and know you’re in Paris.

The object recognition doesn’t stop there as the search box in Google Photos can flag up dogs, or drinks, or diggers, based on what’s on each frame and without any prior organization on the part of the user. It will make your  memories much more accessible than they used to be. Whoa, it recognizes the same person from literal birth over four years.

Google + style editing

For those who want to beautify or tweak their pictures, Google Photos also does Google+ style editing to try to make photos and videos more interesting. Trust me when I say, it works like magic, for instance, when adjusting the brightness of an image of people – say, when they’re backlit and their faces are in shadow – Google Photos will spot the faces and tweak its algorithms to particularly boost the visibility in those regions. See from my family boat trip image below the  auto-awesome feature and some other few tweaks make the photo sharp and worth sharing.

editing with Google photos
Photo editing is just great with this app (Left photo is unedited and the photo on the right is edited).

Other editing tools will include cropping, level adjustments, and more. Photos will warn if you’ve already shared the shot, and that those people will see the changed version, prompting you to make a copy first. Incidentally, if you’ve shared content and then revoke that privilege, the photos and videos won’t be deleted from that person’s account if they’ve added them to their library first. Google+ Stories are present too, and Photos will also support their manual creation.

Privacy & Unlimited storage

For the privacy freaks out there, there will also be this nagging feeling you will have handing over all your photos to Google. The company has however focused this app on privacy – and that’s why they consciously split Google Photos away from Google+. In exchange for your privacy, once you decide to back up your photos and video on Google Photos, is a “High Quality” plan – the free one – includes unlimited photo storage at up to 16-megapixels and up to video at 1080p, Google is actually applying compression in order to minimize the hit on its servers.

The new Google Photos is now available on the web, iOS and Android.