Friday, May 29, 2015

Google Photos

John Gordon:

Google Photos is amazing. I installed it on my iPhone this evening with Google credentials never blighted by Plus. It shows my Google Drive images (in Photos folder), all of my thousands of old Picasa Web images, and photos that are on my iPhone (via sync). The speed of display is amazing.


Now I have a photo sharing solution I like; one I much prefer to Apple’s iCloud/ solution.

John Gruber:

You can use it from the web, and from native apps for Android and iOS. Obviously, it’s a lot like iCloud Photos in terms of functionality and scope, but storing “unlimited, high-quality photos and videos, for free” sure is different. It also sounds like Google is doing more AI-backed / “machine-learning” image analysis for things like face detection and identifying things like snow or a beach.

Steven Levy:

To Bradley Horowitz, Google Photos is not just another product. It’s a culmination of 25 years of his work in processing images. Horowitz — who is Google’s Vice President of Streams, Photos, and Sharing — first studied computer vision in grad school and later dropped out to co-found a company in the field, Virage. In the late 1990s, when Horowitz worked at Yahoo, he was the executive behind the purchase of Flickr. And he has been involved with Google’s previous photo apps at various times in his seven years at the company. But Google Photos is the big one, the strongest push yet for the company that rules search to extend its dominance to the images you shoot incessantly from your phone and camera.


“We aspire to do for photo management what Gmail did for email management.”

Nick Heer:

One big difference between iCPL and Google Photos is that the latter allows unlimited storage for free, with some caveats: photos must be less than 16 megapixels apiece and video is limited to 1080p. Also, all of the stuff you upload with the free plan is compressed; this is in addition to whatever compression your phone or camera already applies.


If they can offer product information based on detecting the contents of your photos, they can serve you ads based on that too. It’s as simple as that.

As we’ve learned from Aran Khanna’s exploration of Facebook Messenger or any of the Snowden leaks, a few disparate points of data gleaned about a person can be associated with one another to build a much more powerful, more comprehensive look at their life.

Serenity Caldwell:

And therein comes the potential dark side of Google’s data usage, where the company pays its debts by leveraging its biggest asset: you. The millions of people who sign up for free Google services agree to terms and conditions that give the company permission to access certain subsets of any information you put online.


An image may be worth 1000 words, but image metadata may spill far more information than that, especially when applied to a Google service. According to this year’s Google I/O keynote, the Photos service will offer a search function that can find people, places, and objects — all without any active tagging on the end user’s part.

Update (2015-05-29): Dave Mark:

If you are going to upload your photos or movies to Google Photo, read these words carefully. The way I read it (and I’m no lawyer, so take this with a grain of salt), at the very least, Google has the right to use your photos in its advertising.

My guess is that this is just intended so that they have the right to show you your own photos. Apple and Flickr have similar clauses in their agreements, although some commenters are saying that there are important differences.

Heather Kelly (via Joe Rosensteel):

No, you won’t see ads in Google Photos: “We have absolutely no plans to do anything from a monetization or ads perspective.”

Ole Begemann:

Google has done a tremendous job in collecting and organizing the common record. Increasingly, it also has become interested in the conversational record.

I’d love a Google that only cared for one half of the web.

Update (2015-05-30): Manton Reece:

I actively try to avoid Google services, but Google Photos is compelling. I’m giving it a try. Photos are probably the most important files my family has, so I think it’s worth it to have an extra backup and new way to search.

Jeremy Horwitz:

On the relationship scale, I didn’t abandon Aperture; Aperture abandoned me (and a lot of other people). […] If Apple’s going to match Google on the photo and video storage front, WWDC is the right time to make that announcement. I’m waiting until then to make my decision. Otherwise, I’m planning to move my photo library over to Google Photos, as there’s nothing on the horizon that will make Apple’s photo software or cloud services more compelling.

Update (2015-06-16): David Pogue:

As automatic, free backup services, Google Photos and Flickr are exactly the same idea. They are, in fact, almost freakishly alike; you have to wonder if one company poached engineers from the other.

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