Google Photos

It was only a matter of time. Google Photos is the latest service to offer to store your photos for free or as a bundled feature, joining Amazon and Flickr.

Google announced today (in a move that surprised no one) that it was breaking out the Photos feature from Google Plus, making it a standalone product. Another in a long line of signs that Google Plus is not long for this world (I’m waiting for Google Hangouts to jailbreak next).

The service will be available for iOS, Android, web and desktop users today (although the iOS app wasn’t available when I checked) and will automatically back up your photos from any of your devices to Google’s cloud. There is a limit though, the free option will only support up to 16 megapixel photos and 1080p videos, which is fine if you only take photos with a point-and-shoot or mobile device – anything higher than that limit will be down-rezzed. If you take photos with a DSLR, and you want to maintain the original resolution you’ll need to continue using your Google Drive storage (15gb for free, but you have to pay after that). I’m also assuming that raw format images will continue to be supported.

The Google Photos service will also leverage and improve Google Plus’ “auto awesome” and sorting features, so it should be a lot easier to find photos by person, place or event, even if you don’t tag the photos manually (they made a point of saying the auto-tagging will be private and only available to you for what that’s worth). It will also try to build montages and albums for you if you like – that feature is actually pretty cool in Google Plus, so I’m looking forward to seeing the improvements in Google Photos.

While I’m sad to see the inevitable dismantling of Google Plus (doomed for a long time), Google Photos is a great standalone service for shutterbugs of all types. If you’re already paying for Amazon Prime, that means you can store virtually all your photos for free in three different places, so now you have absolutely no reason to lose any of your photos or videos.