Google Photos: It’s All That (and a little worrisome)

A couple of weeks ago Google offered a great gift to the Internet universe: free, unlimited photo storage for all.

Free.

Unlimited.

100%.

Free.

People keep asking me, “Does that mean I can upload…?” Yep. Everything. All the old family photos, everything on your mobile device, any images you have stored on other cloud services.

Free. Unlimited.

The Good

Besides the awesomeness of the free/unlimited feature, Google includes some positively eerie (creepy?) functionality that may forever change how you organize and find images.

  • Crazy Organization Capabilities
    When your images import into Google Photos, they’re quickly grouped by timelines. Then Google uses the geolocation tags on your images to further keep things together. That means you can look back to the pictures you took last April or just click on the New Orleans category to see your vacation photos from 2010.
  • Creepy Analyzing Capabilities
    Google’s technology sees and analyzes all. The service sweeps through your photos and can identify people’s faces. It gets more eerie when you realize that it can track faces over the years.My nephews kind of look alike. Not only did Google separate their pictures, it also identified the same boy from age 2 to age 9.
  • Handy Identification Capabilities
    Google goes beyond identification of faces. Search for the word “dog,” and images of your last three pets will appear on your page. It’s not perfect by any stretch… many of my “dog” pictures were of my cats, Copy and Paste. I searched for “hat” and came up with all kinds of my family members and friends wearing hats. The word “orange” yielded a half dozen photos, and I know I have a bunch more.
  • Automatic Compilations of Memories and Events
    When you click on the Assistant button, you’ll discover a host of videos, collages and timelines that Google Photos created for you. You should check out the fun ones I discovered.
  • Easy Movies and Collages
    Not only does Google make photo gallery showpieces for you, but you can also make your own, like this cutey-patooty video of my nephew eating blueberries.
  • Fast Uploads and Sharing
    The apps and desktop tools make it easy to quickly identify and synchronize your photo folders. The first time I created the folders, it took several days to process my 5k image files. But now any photos I save on my phone or computer appear in Google in no time. You can also quickly share pictures and folders from any device.

The Bad

Yep, I’m a fan of Google Photos, and I will continue to use the service. But many people are uncomfortable with the control and access that Google assumes when you sign up. The amazing technology may come at a price of privacy. You may have heard the saying, “If you’re not paying for the product, YOU are the product.”

Google Photos analyzes every single pixel of every single image you share, which means it knows who you hang with, where you go and more. There’s no evidence that Google will use this info to do evil, but some people are worried. I long ago let go of the worry about privacy because I think it’s all out there and will never be private again. But now’s a great time to evaluate your own comfort level and your privacy settings.

PS — Google just created a dashboard to let you control all your privacy settings at once.

 

 

Beth Ziesenis in 9 Minutes
Samples of Google Photos Assistant Feature