Photos Everywhere

(news & commentary)

bythom googlephotos

With Google Photos, we now have three of the big four tech companies wanting to take control over your photos (I’ll get to the others in a moment).

At the moment, Google Photos is available for iOS, Android, and Web, and provides unlimited storage of your images somewhere in Googletown, uh, excuse me, the Google Cloud. That “unlimited” has a catch: images are restricted to 16mp and videos to 1080P, and Google may apply additional compression. If you want your originals as originals, you’re limited to 15GB or you can pay US$9.99/month for 1TB of storage. 

Google Photos has the Apple Photos like look of organizing your images and making them available on all your devices. The primary organization is by date, with people, places, and things as alternatives, much like Apple has provided for awhile now (first with iPhoto, now with Apple Photos). You can have Google Photos build a set of related photos and videos into a video with music soundtrack, you can have it animate a GIF from photos, build a timeline, create panoramas, and enhance or apply filter effects to your images. Those things go beyond what Apple is currently providing, but given the iOS/Android competition, I suspect feature sets will even out over time. The one thing Google does provide that Apple doesn’t is free space for all your images, though with the caveat listed above.

So, you can have all your images available all the time on all your Apple devices (Apple Photos), or you can have all your images available all the time on all your Google devices (Google Photos). 

Meanwhile, many of you may not have noticed that Amazon will happily store all your images, too, at least if you’re an Amazon Prime customer. You get free unlimited photo storage, no restrictions. Amazon’s is more of a data storage connection at the moment, basically providing you free access to all that Amazon cloud server capacity. You can add images via the Web, via a mobile device, or via standalone desktop applications. What you don’t get is all the organizing, manipulation, and hand-holding that Apple/Google provide. What Amazon gives you is mostly a brute force cloud mechanism. Nothing at all wrong with that, and Amazon Prime customers have a no-cost cloud image backup ability, if nothing else. 

Missing in the list so far is Microsoft. Microsoft Photos can’t be very far behind ;~). 

Which brings us to the camera makers. Not a single one does anything to help a camera user live in the Amazon/Apple/Google/Microsoft world that’s likely to dominate image storage. A few, Canon and Nikon for example, have tried their own cloud-based image options, which pale in comparison to what the Internet tech companies are doing, and cost the user more to use. 

So we have camera makers emphasizing sneaker net, with their smartphone competitors emphasizing “everything is connected automatically.” Which do you think is going to win the consumer over? 

text and images © 2020 Thom Hogan
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