It’s been six years, to the day, since Google Photos debuted at I/O 2015. A lot has changed since for me; I got married, I moved countries, and more importantly, the world is very different than it was back then. What hasn’t changed, though, is how awesome and reliable Photos has been through it all. It has improved a lot, made some controversial changes, but it remains the smartest photo library I have ever used.
Instead of dwelling on the impending doom of the free backups — which we’ve covered extensively and will continue covering, don’t worry about that — I’d like to take the opportunity in this post to celebrate the joys of using Google Photos. What started as a smart, but let’s face it basic, library has evolved into a photo management powerhouse. Whether I take random pics here and there, travel the world non-stop and snap hundreds of daily pics, have pets, visit friends, run around in nature or in cities, or any mix of these, or even none of these, the best part about Photos is that it adapts to what’s happening in my life right now.
If I go on an adventure for a day or more, it automatically creates an album for me. If I snap a lot of similar photos, it collages them. If I take pics of the same people across multiple years, it prepares “then and now” comparisons. If I take a pic in landscape when it should be in portrait, it offers to rotate it for me. If can easily archive documents and random notes, too, leaving my main gallery filled with proper photos. Plus, it has the best facial recognition abilities and lets me relive years’ worth of memories with my favorite people. And when I’m more interested in exploring things and places, I can find those neatly categorized too, from a map and timeline of my snaps to hundreds of smart categories that cover food and gadgets and more. Photos’ search is extremely powerful and unparalleled too. It can handle things as simple as “Paris” or as complex as “me in Barcelona with sunset” or “burger tree Budapest night February.”
Beyond cataloging photos and videos like no other service can, it also offers non-destructive edits that let me play around with images and find the best edits without losing the original snap. And when I’m done, I can easily share the results with my contacts. My husband and I have set up shared libraries that allow us to quickly check the pics we take during common events and trips, and I have some automatic shared folders for my closest friends that get updated without me even touching them.
In short, if you love taking pics and you use half of Google Photos’ features, you’re probably not going to find anything like it on the market. And it’s why I stand with Prasham in saying you shouldn’t look for an alternative, the paid service is worth every penny.
But I digress. Happy belated birthday, Google Photos, and although we wish we were celebrating this without the cloud of June 1st looming over us, we still loved every single moment of these six free years we got from you.