google photos

Among a flurry of yesterday’s announcements at the Google I/O developer conference, the Internet giant launched Google Photos, its brand spanking new photography service available across iOSAndroid and on the web. It offers unlimited storage (with a  few caveats) and has many other compelling features that give Apple’s iCloud Photo Library a fairly good run for its money.

To name but a few: world-class facial recognition that understands aging, sleek design, fast performance, unmatched search and machine intelligence, the ability to create a movie, collage or animated GIF in seconds and more.

The question is, will you be turning to Google Photos as a backup solution for the media you’ve amassed on your iOS device? Or, perhaps you’ll be sticking with Apple’s iCloud Photo Library even though it offers a meager five gigabytes of free cloud storage? Planning on using Google Photos alongside iCloud Photo Library, are we? Not a big fan of either service, you say?

Tell us in today’s poll!

Before you vote and jump straight to comments, consider the following caveats.

Apple gives each iCloud account five gigabytes of free cloud storage that can be used to back up your photo library using Photos for iOS and OS X and iCloud Photo Library.

Apple’s service always stores your photos and videos in the cloud in their full resolution, with an option to push media in device-optimized resolution to your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to preserve storage space.

Google Photos offers unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos, but downscales image to sixteen megapixels and re-encodes videos to 1080p. So, if you have DSLR photos larger than 16MP, or shoot video in 4K, Google will keep them in the cloud in a reduced resolution.

The benefit: your photos will still look good in print but take up less space.

The downside: if you want to upload your media to Google Photos exactly as you captured it—without compression artifacts due to downscaling—you’ll have to do with just fifteen gigabytes of free storage.

Cast your vote below.

Of course, both Google and Apple offer paid storage upgrades.

With iCloud, you can purchase storage tiers in 20GB/200GB/500GB/1TB increments for $0.99/$3.99/$9.99/$19.99 per month, respectively.

Google sells 100GB/1TB storage upgrades for $1.99/$9.99 per month, with additional 10TB/20TB/30TB tiers costing $99/$199.99/$299.99 per month, respectively.

Google Photos for iPhone and iPad is free in the App Store.

Which service do you use to back up your photos in the cloud?

We’re especially eager to hear from readers who swear by Dropbox, Flickr or OneDrive to preserve their memories. What’s your experience with these services been so far?

Tell us in comments.

  • Mr.Coolfreak

    Overwhelming majority of the people take pictures with their smartphones, they won’t have to worry about down scaling.

    • Maxim∑

      they’ll worry about privacy. And the audio compression is pretty extreme

      • Mr.Coolfreak

        I uploaded a 7mb pic and when I downloaded it, I could not see any difference in quality

      • Kurt

        Privacy? You should tell him to Google “iCloud hacked photos” lol

      • Kurt

        audio? The mic on the iPhone is terrible. Are you sure its the compression? Check out the S6, now that phone has an awesome mic.

      • Benedict

        They shouldn’t worry more if they already use Apple’s services.

      • TonyVee73

        I found the video quality to be fine. This is the only service I’ve tried that actually plays back videos without lagging. I’ve tried Dropbox and Box and when trying to play back on WiFi or cellular, it lags so bad that the video is unwatchable.

        The only issue I have is that I can’t watch videos uploaded from my iPad or wife’s iPhone on my HTC ONE M8. It crashes the app.

  • Manor

    Google Photos is free so in my opinion it is better. Hope Apple will expand the iCloud free storage to at least 10 GB with iOS 9

    • dpacemaker

      Free does not mean better. This is from the license agreement you automatically accept by using this service.

      “Some of our Services allow you to upload, submit, store, send or receive content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

      When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.

      Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”

    • Techsticles

      At the very least Apple should give 5gb per device on account, not 5gb per account. If you have an iPhone, iPad and MacBook, that’s 3 devices and should be 15gb included.

  • Fardeen Beharry

    still on dropbox

    • Sleaka J

      Ditto.

  • dpacemaker

    This is from the license agreement you automatically accept by using this service.

    “Some of our Services allow you to upload, submit, store, send or receive content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

    When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.

    Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”

    • Mr.Coolfreak

      ICloud has almost the same terms regarding photos

      • dpacemaker

        Almost, but Apple says they won’t use any of your photos except those that have been publicly shared. So a slideshow that was shared via a link or a shared photo stream.

  • locomambo

    why the mention of caveats? i dont see 20 millions or more iphone users with SLR cameras being that the iphone its only 8mp and most of the androids phones are 12-16mp cameras. i am a iphone user since the beginning and i HATE i said that again HATE icloud photo just for the fact i have to pay for a phone and also have to pay extra to have icloud storage..i will always go for the free ALWAYS i have onedrive with 128gb of free space also have mega with 50gb of free space and dropbox with 60gb of free space now with google photo i will only use one thank god until APPLE does something about it, i will never use icloud photo.

    • Elias

      Well since Google owns and can use every photo I have uploaded Google photos I’d never consider using this.

      • Benedict

        The orignator owns the photo – not Google. Term and conditions are the same like Apple’s. Apple shows user photos in their iphone 6 adverts.

      • Elias

        well I still trust apple a lot more than Google.

      • Benedict

        I don’t.

      • Elias

        Google makes money from analyzing everything you do on the internet and then showing you ads that are related to what websites you’ve been browsing. Apple makes their money from selling computers, phones, tablets ect so they don’t need to analyze everything you do so they don’t.

    • Rowan09

      What does free have to do with being better? You get 5GB for free and obviously it’s not enough so if you want more you either purchase it or go the free route as you’ve chosen. All the free routes I’ve chosen aren’t as good as the paid versions and with its reasons and Google’s service is no different.

      • Benedict

        In this case, it’s simply better.

      • Rowan09

        I haven’t read the terms and conditions but the shot with iPhone ads to my understanding where pictures available on the web not from people’s iCloud storage.

      • Benedict

        No, it’s prohibited by law that companies just can’t use your face and put it on a billboard to promote themselfs without your permission. You describe it as if you upload a photo from your socks, they display it the next day on Times Square:)

      • Rowan09

        Read the terms and conditions. At least it’s there so legally once you use their services you understand.

      • Benedict

        I did. The terms and conditions are the same like Apple’s. Nethertheless they both need the rights to store and publish data – when you post it public. It would be highly doubtful that this data will be used public without your permission. Especially when you are not a person of interest.

      • Rowan09

        They are not the same. Googles business model is made to send you emails, etc after searching your habits. Google also clearly states they can use your photos to promote, etc

  • Nikhil Baveja

    Does Google offers 2 way sync? for eg, If I delete a photo from my photos app does it automatically deletes from Google photos app too. Apple offers this on Icloud photo sync.. If I modify or delete a pic it’s across platforms I own for eg.. Mac, Ipad etc.. does google offer that?

    • Nikhil Baveja

      Can someone answer my query above?

      • Benedict

        Yes, it does. Every Google app sync everything to all devices.

    • No, it is setup so that you could upload all of your photos to Google Photos and then delete them all off your phone. The photos would still remain on Google Photos but would free up your phone space.

      • dpacemaker

        Yeah but if you delete a photo from the Google app it will also delete it from your iCloud Photo Library.

      • M_thoroughbred

        No it will not. They are in different servers.

      • dpacemaker

        Yes it will. If you give the app permission.

      • dpacemaker

        It is the only option given when deleting a photo.

      • M_thoroughbred

        I stand corrected!!!

      • M_thoroughbred

        I stand corrected. Sorry about that.

  • Anmol Malhotra

    Just started using iCloud Photo Library.
    Anyone having decent knowledge about this can answer my ques?
    How can i store photos on iCloud? Like i want if i delete it on my iPhone it should be available on iCloud so i can access it later. Is it possible right now? Because when i try to delete a photo it says that the photo will be deleted from all the device connected to it. Will it be deleted from iCloud too?

    • locomambo

      i had the same issue yesteday, when i delete from one also deleted from the other also it was taking space out of my phone which was a pain in the butt..but i saw on my the website on my mac that all was back up what i did i restore iphone as new and just install the app again now everything is working great! now thats not a viable option but that did the trick for me also updated my iphone to 8.3 and now im very happy..i just did a test right now..took a picture it was loaded to my google photo then deleted picture from iphone and it the picture was still on my google photo account..love this app hope you find another more simple solution soon

    • Yes, and this is by design. Seamless sync across devices means that deleting a photo on one device (pr through the Photos web interface at iCloud.com) will remove all copies on all your other devices that have iCloud Photo Library enabled.

      You do have a per-device option in Settings > iCloud > Photos that tells the service to download device-optimized photos and videos to preserve storage space. Regardless of this option, the system always keep your content in its original resolution stored in the cloud.

      Hope this helps.

      • Anmol Malhotra

        Oh. I thought it will save my device space by saving the pics on the cloud. But it actually takes the space. Right?

      • No. I have over 5,500 photos and videos and only takes up 6 gb.

      • It saves thumbnails if it’s optimized for your phone. So, it will save you some space, but not a ton.

      • bsarel

        If you choose to optimize you photos from the settings it’ll save the original (full-res photos and videos) on iCloud. It will save you tons of storage! it saved me about 16gb!!!
        Also if you don’t want to delete the pictures from your device you can choose to ‘hide’ them. touch and hold to see that option. I’m not sure but i guess if you hide them i’ll not take up storage on your device…

    • If you optimize your photos it won’t take up much space on your phone if any. If you have a Mac, the pics save to your hard drive so even tho they’re not on the cloud, you still have them saved.

  • jaredean

    I’ve been using DropBox and won’t consider switching to any service that doesn’t offer automatic sync…Google Drive didn’t offer that, or at least an easy and seamless solution, so i use my 1TB Google Drive to store my music collection. If the new Google service works as well or better than DropBox with synching shots AND gives me the other benefits i’ll look to move my 80,000+ library over…but, as a DropBox business user i have unlimited storage already and it isn’t held to a certain megapixel limit either…

    • Tommy Welle Jacobsson

      Care to share that 80.000+ library? 🙂

      • jaredean

        ha! you’d be quite bored unless you like looking at pictures of kids playing baseball and dogs chasing sticks…it is our family history in pictures, nothing really exciting to anyone other than us…sorry to disappoint 🙂

  • I just want to tell you both good luck. We’re all counting on you

    • Sleaka J

      It’s an entirely different kind of flying, altogether!

  • FrankJL

    like i expected a different poll result from an iOS blog hahaha google photos is beyond what apple photos is.

    Alone the auto as, collections feature and search are beyond the walls of what apple offers. Cant compare. apple feels legacy, google photos feel like 2015

    • Kurt

      Siri’s robotic voice sounds so outdated while Google Now’s (if that’s what its called lol) feels like 2015

    • raulortiz318

      Apple Photos can be so horrible. The Faces Album alone is a travesty of design, and shows the poor face matching recognition at work compared to Google’s offering. I have about 90 Suggested Faces of my son, and am unable to combine with his existing Face that I’ve already named, nor am I unable to delete more than one at a time. Its a mess.

      On top of that, simple options like sorting in descending order don’t exist. I hope Apple steps it up or I will be moving over to Google Photos very soon.

  • I currently back up with iCloud Photo Library, Google Photos and Amazon Photos. I like having them backed up in multiple places just in case.

  • babiloe

    Google photo Android can’t select folder Which to be upload. Omg it automatically uploaded jerk whatsapp images

  • dpacemaker

    When I read that I see two distinct differences. Google will use what they want from your pics/videos, but the way Apple words it is that they won’t use anything from your photos unless it has been publicly shared. Meaning they will use the pics you put into a slideshow and shared the link to, but nothing else.

    • Benedict

      There is no difference in those terms. Thsi is just your interpretation or guessing in favor for Apple. And even if you share a link public they are not allowed to use the picture without your permission for adverts or something – both Google and Apple.

  • TonyVee73

    I downloaded Google Photo on my HTC One M8 and my wife’s iPhone 6+.

    If I try to watch a videon on my 1M8 that was uploaded from her 6+, the app crashes. I can watch a video that was uploaded from the 1M8 fine.

    I can watch any video on the 6+ with no issues. Anyone having the same issues?

    • babiloe

      Maybe because IPhone 6 using x264 with mov container. Mp4 container more acceptable for both worlds.

  • Borey Has

    Last time I use Dropbox but now completely switch to Google photos. Unlimited space, auto story, auto gif, auto awesome photo

  • Never putting my personal stuff in the HDD of any third-party’s storage service. I’m looking to build my OwnCloud via some NAS devices, until I accomplish that, local USB for the win.

    If I were to careless about putting my photos on some third-party’s HDD, where there’s zero guarantee of privacy, I’d go for Google Photos ’cause of it’s unlimited storage and cross-platform availability.

  • The Flaming Cow

    I love the idea of Google Photos, and so far it looks like a nice improvement to Google+ photos, which I’ve been using as a 2nd backup source to iCloud photos. However, I don’t know (and kind of doubt) if Google Photos will maintain a whole photo burst, and also wonder what it will do with SlowMo videos… anyone checked that out yet?

    • The Flaming Cow

      Another feature that might be missing from Google Photos is the automatic storage of the full photo in the Cloud and a thumbnail on the device, to save storage space. I’ve been loving having iCloud automagically do this for me. I think these few things are more important to comment on than the downscaling of super high res pictures that my Phone can’t even take…

  • bsarel

    Here is something I don’t understand… If I wanna switch to Google Photos from iCloud Photo Library… and I have the ‘Optimized iPhone Storage’ switched on (which means that I basically have lower resolution images on my device). How will it backup my original photos / movies?!… will it take my low-res?

    • Cliff C

      YES THIS. Somebody with knowledge please answer this!! This has been my #1 question since last week.

  • Dmitry Nechvolod

    I’ll only use Google Photos as a backup for my photos in case I run out of storage in iCloud. Google Photos is really good. However, Apple’s Photos app is synchronized with iPhone, Mac and Apple TV. So I guess for Apple devices, Photos is the best

    • Google Photos syncs with iPhone and Web, so as long as you have internet you’re set on any computer really, Mac or PC. Just stream photos.google.com to AppleTV via Airplay.

  • One problem I’m trying to figure out is edit versions on iPhone. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

    When you make an edit to a photo in Apple Photos, Google Photos automatically uploads it as a new photo (2 copies total), whereas Apple Photos just changes the original copy (with the ability to revert, but 1 copy total). Sometimes Google will not upload the edited version, assuming it is a duplicate (hence the cloud with the line through it icon)

    When you delete the edited version on Google, it deletes the iCloud version entirely, but leaves the unedited one in Google. When you delete an iCloud photo, it does not affect the Google library.

    Any advice on a good workflow while using Apple’s app to edit? They definitely have superior editing tools, but overall I like Google’s better.

  • Tran Nguyen

    Photo app smackdown: Google, Apple or Yahoo?
    Google need to separate photo and G+ photo and verify Picasa what’s for. And Photo app controlled your decision about how to delete a picture. That’s STUPID thing Google developers did.

  • Faisal

    Personally, I dont like the looks of the current photo library. i like to old one better. because whenever I travelled, I like to see where I’d been in the world maps.

  • Steve

    hi it will not import photos library from external drive any ideas?

  • If you are happy with the privacy trade-off, Google Photos is generally superior. Apple’s solution has a few pros due to its baked-in nature (e.g. background sync, embedding photos into messages), but technically Google is way ahead (search, selectable downloads, instant sharing, even the auto editing is better).

    Apple is still trying to apply a cloud philosophy to a device-view of services, whereas Google is mapping its fundamental cloud prowess onto devices. Google’s native apps are getting better and better, while Apple’s cloud services still don’t quite hit the mark.

  • Simon

    As a huge Apple fan and user, I wanted to say that it is like a joke how much better Google Photos is. I uploaded around 70,000 images to both services. Google is fast on everything. It automatically recognizes faces, makes animations and collages, it is a joy to use. iCloud Photo library is sluggish on everything. It has slowed the photo picker in every other app on my phone to glacial speeds. The camera app itself on my iPhone is now so slow, it infuriates me. My meticulously created albums from Aperture all disappeared from my Mac, iPhone and iPad. Editing RAW images sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. I have my phone set to optimize storage, but it eats up every last bit (30GB last time) until I have no choice but to turn iCloud Photo Library off and on again. That takes about 24 hours to do. It used every last bit of the 50GB of free storage on my wife’s Macbook until it crashed. That was also set to optimize the storage. It has been a total nightmare and I have wasted countless hours on it. If only Google Photos had system level integration I’d be on that in a shot. It is almost enough to make you want to switch platforms, it’s such a disaster. I wonder if Apple will ever figure out the cloud.