When Google Photos launched two years ago, I installed it for one very simple reason: to backup all of my photos and videos to the cloud. It was a second home screen app on my iPhone, not yet worthy of being on my main home screen with Apple Photos.
Sometime in the last few months it snuck its way onto my main home screen. I’m not sure when it happened, but it did. And lately as I’ve fallen more in love with its growing features and intelligence, I’ve been wondering why I even need two photos apps on my home screen.
One is enough and I’m finally ready to make it my default photos app. And here’s why you should too.
I have a long list of reasons for why Google Photos is superior to Apple Photos.
Let’s start with storage, because that’s one of its most attractive features. Right off the bat, for the cost of zero dollars, Google Photos offers unlimited photo and video storage in the cloud. Pay for iCloud storage? No thanks, I’m too cheap.
Sure, you’ve gotta be OK with photos being saved at a maximum of 16 megapixels and videos at full HD, but I’m fine with that. My iPhone 7 only takes 12-megapixel photos and I almost never record videos in 4K, anyway. If you really want to save your photos and videos at full resolution you can always pay for premium storage.
Search is another reason I’m head over heels for Google Photos. By applying machine learning and advanced image recognition, Google Photos is able to intelligently and accurately identify people, places, and things.
I’m constantly impressed by how spot-on the face detection is. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s really, really good way better than face detection in Apple Photos which ID’s me as five different people, for some reason:
Other reasons Google Photos is the bomb-diggity? Here’s a list:
It automatically makes really cheesy, but fun-to-watch mini movies for me.
It knows how to turn a batch of burst photos into a GIF.
Sometimes its Assistant (not to be confused with the Google Assistant) delights me by magically turning a turd photo into an beautiful one.
It can automatically make collages.
It loves moms.
It has more granular editing features, including an auto-enhance feature that always makes my photos pop more than Apple Photos.
On Android it fixes your stupid shaky videos.
These are all kick-ass features that embarrass the crap out of Apple Photos, and yet weren’t enough to force me to move the app to home screen four where my folder of non-removable Apple iPhone apps lives.
Thinking hard on why, I can only come up with one reason: Apple Photos connects directly to the iPhone’s camera app. If Apple let me pick which photos app to save photos and videos directly and it’ll never give iOS users that kinda control I probably would left Apple Photos a long time ago.
But, it’s not enough anymore. At its I/O developer conference, Google showed off several Google Photos features that are too impressive to pass on.
The first is Google Lens, which makes use of computer vision to understand what’s happening in a photo and then provide useful contextual actions.
For example, Google Lens could identify Chicago’s Willis Tower in a photo, and then display some quick facts about it from Wikipedia, reviews, and operating hours. Additionally, Google Lens will give you options to get search results, Google Maps directions, and call the place up.
Another example of Google Lens’s AI skills: identifying a painting in a photo.
In a nutshell, Google Lens is like Google Image Search, but for your photos. It’s insane, and when Google Photos gets Google Lens later this year, it’s gonna change the very way we think of photos. Years from now we’re gonna wonder how we ever lived without Google Lens.
The other two new Google Photos features Suggested Sharing and Shared Libraries aren’t quite as magical as Google Lens, but still solve very real problems.
Suggested Sharing helps automate the tedious process of sharing photos by looking at who you share certain photos with, and then suggesting them as potential people to share with in the future. Not only that, but Suggested Sharing can also identify the people in your photos and then suggest sharing those photos to them because why wouldn’t they want that group selfie they’re in?
Google (@Google) May 17, 2017
Sharing Libraries lets you share select photos from your library automatically to another approved person’s library. The example Google Photos chief Anil Sabharwal used to demonstrate Share Libraries at I/O was that of a husband and wife. With the feature turned on and his wife approved, any photos he takes that has their son in it would automatically get shared to her library. It’s powerful stuff.
As compelling as these three new Google Photos features are, they’re only scratching the surface of what Google’s AI can do for Google Photos.
Though Google didn’t explicitly say the ability to remove obstructions like the fence in the photo below would be a feature coming to Google Photos, the fact that the company showed it could do it demonstrates it’s usefulness. It’s not hard to imagine a one-tap feature in Google Photos that effectively removes objects (there are many apps that already do this, but none of them with such impressive results).
Google’s right that your photos app shouldn’t just be a place to see all of your photos and videos in reverse chronological order. It should be smart and help you do shit and know shit that’s relevant to your media. Apple Photos dabbles a little with AI, but Google Photos embraces it fully, and the end result is magic.
It was a hard decision to make, but I finally pulled the trigger and moved Apple Photos from my main home screen and into my “Apple Crap” folder on home screen four. Sayonara!
I don’t want to pretend like I won’t ever use it again (I know I will), but Google Photos is the future (for me at least). Maybe Apple will win me back at WWDC next month, but until it happens, Google Photos is my new photos app bae. Now… to find an app worthy enough to fill the vacancy left by Apple Photos.