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Google just announced that their Photos app that comes preinstalled on a variety of Android devices now has more than 500 million users. Google also announced upcoming features in the Photos app that will integrate machine learning right inside the Photos app All the New Things You Can Do With Google Photos All the New Things You Can Do With Google Photos Google is adding a bunch of new features to Google Photos. All of which should help make Google Photos even more of an essential app than it is already. Read More .

If you read any of that coverage, or you’ve seen Google’s ads about helping you reclaim storage space on iPhones, you might be wondering: should you be using the Google Photos app on your iPhone?

Google Photos Does a Lot

Google Photos has been available on the iPhone for more than a year now and while it doesn’t have the same feature set as its Android counterpart, the app has gained quite a lot of features over that time. Google Photos is an app, while iCloud Photo Library is a feature baked into iOS 5 Things You Need To Know About iCloud Photo Library 5 Things You Need To Know About iCloud Photo Library Here's what you need to know about iCloud Photo Library, how it works and what it will cost you. Read More . That means it has privileges that an app doesn’t.

Google Photo’s differentiator is its smarts 8 Brilliant Search Tools Hidden Within Google Photos 8 Brilliant Search Tools Hidden Within Google Photos Google Photos' search tools have powerful algorithms that are on par with that of Google's search engine. Read More and its free forever policy. You can upload unlimited photos to Google Photos (although compressed), without paying a dime. Also, once your photos are in there, you can do a lot of interesting things.

google photos assistant

You can search for elements inside photos (including places, objects, and people) and Google Photos gets it right a surprising number of times. Apple added this to its Photos app in iOS 10, except Apple’s implementation takes place on the device rather than the server.

Google Photos also has an extensive editing feature set How to Get the Most Out of Google Photos Movie Editor How to Get the Most Out of Google Photos Movie Editor The Google Photos app has an excellent movie editor built in. It's available absolutely free to iOS and Android users and offers some great features. Read More . You can turn your photos into GIFs, animations, collages, slideshows, and even videos. What’s better is that Google Photos now has an integrated Assistant feature (which is different from Google Assistant 10 Things You Didn't Know Google Assistant Could Do 10 Things You Didn't Know Google Assistant Could Do Android's version of Siri -- Google Assistant -- is more powerful than most people realize. Read More ) that will do all those things for you, automatically. Getting a notification about an animation Google Photos made from your photos from your weekend trip is a pure joy.

You can easily create a shared album to share photos and videos Moments: Facebook's Beautiful New Way To Share Photos With Friends Moments: Facebook's Beautiful New Way To Share Photos With Friends Give, get and collect photos with Facebook's new app — Moments. Facebook's new separate app makes it easier to share and view those captured moments among friends and family. Read More with a specific group. Everyone in the group can add photos and you can even turn the album into a website that anyone can view.

You can upload unlimited photos for free (compressed). If you choose to upload high-res photos, without any sort of compression, they’ll count against your Google cloud storage. You get 15 GB of space for free and after that, you can pay $1.99 per month for 100 GB (iCloud gives you 50 GB storage for $0.99 per month).

Google Photos has a fully fledged web client where you can search and organize photos, but no native Mac app that like Apple’s Photos. It also has an Android app and Mac uploader for grabbing any new photos in a given directory. If you’re struggling for space on your device, you’ll find the Free up space feature helpful. It helps you delete photos that are already uploaded to Google Photos so you can get some storage space back.

Google Photos Offers a Delightful Experience

There aren’t many apps or technologies that provide a consistently delightful experience. Google Photos is one of the rare apps. Google Photos understands that it’s not about the photos but about the people and the memories and the app has features that cater to both reliving the nostalgia and sharing with your friends 12 Amazing Google Photos Features You Didn't Know About 12 Amazing Google Photos Features You Didn't Know About Google Photos is a well-known service, but it holds many little tricks. Here are 12 great features of Photos you might have missed. Read More .

And this is the part where Apple Photos fall short Better Than iCloud? 6 Superior Cloud Services for Apple Users Better Than iCloud? 6 Superior Cloud Services for Apple Users In some ways, the things that make Apple such a great hardware and software company make it bad at the cloud. Read More . Apple has the search feature but it’s not as good. The sharing feature is unnecessarily complex and only works on Apple devices.

iCloud Photo Library Is More Utilitarian

icloud photo library

iCloud Photo Library is a built-in feature and it’s the easiest photo backup system on iOS. Just turn it on from Settings > Photos, make sure you have enough storage space in iCloud Is It Finally Time to Buy More iCloud Storage? Is It Finally Time to Buy More iCloud Storage? Now that iCloud storage costs considerably less than it used to, it might be time to upgrade beyond 5GB. Read More , a reliable internet connection and let it do its thing.

There’s no inherent problem with using iCloud Photo Library other than the fact that it costs you a monthly fee for anything over 5 GB. For most of us, that can be taken care of by paying $0.99 per month for 50 GB storage. But if you’re looking for a completely free option, iCloud Photo Library is out of the question.

But when it comes to the smarts, Google gives Apple (and iCloud Photo Library) a run for its money. Apple’s Photos does face and object recognition but it’s just not as good. Because Apple is big on privacy, the scanning and tagging take place on the device and that’s where the data stays.

As a result, tagging data can vary for each device. This can get annoying. When it comes to searching inside photos, Apple’s object identification library isn’t that exhaustive. On the plus side, you don’t have to upload your entire photo library to Google’s servers if you opt for Apple’s solution. For many uses, the security implications of handing over all those images just isn’t worth it.

icloud photo library settings

Both iCloud Photo Library and Google Photos have a web component, with your iCloud Photo Library accessible from iCloud.com. It also integrates with Apple’s core Photos app on iPhone, iPad and Mac. Google Photos is also available on Android (of course), and you can probably access photos via iCloud.com using an Android browser if you really wanted to.

Apple Photos lacks transparency or control over the sync, which means you can’t manually start or pause the sync process. It’s the same story with iCloud Photo Library’s Optimize Storage feature where it automatically deletes old, already uploaded photos from iPhone to make room for when you’re running out.

Should You Use Google Photos on iPhone?

Probably, if you see value in the benefits. Ideally, you should be using multiple ways to backup 5 Tools to Sync & Auto-Upload Photos from Android to Cloud Storage 5 Tools to Sync & Auto-Upload Photos from Android to Cloud Storage Nothing is more convenient than taking a photo on your phone and automatically having it be backed up to the cloud. Read More your photos: on-site, off-site, and online. Google Photos can be just another backup of your photos. The ability to search through photos, Assistant’s creations, easy sharing features, and the unlimited free compressed backup are all tempting prospects.

google photos search

But of course, because this is a Google app there are a few caveats. First, in my experience, Google Photos’ backup hasn’t always been reliable. That’s because Google Photos is ultimately an app and can’t control the background processes like it can on Android. This is one thing iCloud Photo Library never fails at. As long as your iPhone is connected to the internet, the photos will be backed up.

There’s also the rather large question of privacy What Does Google Know About You? Find Out and Manage Your Privacy and Security What Does Google Know About You? Find Out and Manage Your Privacy and Security For the first time, search giant Google is offering a way for you to check the information it has about you, how it is gathering that data, and new tools to start reclaiming your privacy. Read More . Google’s privacy policy states that all the indexing and computer analysis happens anonymously and securely. But Google is known to use its user’s personal information to sell them better ads. Apple doesn’t do that. Plus, Apple doesn’t upload any indexing data to its servers and all your personal information stays on your device.

At the end of the day, Google is an advertising company while Apple is a hardware company. They make their money in different ways, and its worth remembering that when considering one over the other.

The Future of Google Photos

Google Photos is going to get a lot more appealing in the upcoming months. Google is integrating Google Lens, its machine learning engine right inside the app. Google will get even better at identifying and categorizing photos — but so will Apple. It will also help you remove unwanted objects from photos. The suggested sharing feature will automatically identify your friends and will give you an easy way to share the photos with them.

Google is also bringing shared libraries to make sharing photos with your extended family a lot easier. The feature essentially integrates the family’s photo pool inside your library so you can search and navigate through them without going to a particular shared album.

Do you use Google Photos on your iOS device?

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  1. Adam
    May 27, 2017 at 11:41 am

    I moved from an iPhone to a Pixel last year, both are great phones, and both iCloud photos and Google photos provide a great service.

    Each arguably has the own pros and cons, hey that's life.

    The one thing that was disappointing (complete understatement btw) with Google photos is having imported 40gb of content from iCloud, it screwed the date flags up. This means all my videos prior to switching to Android all appear as though they have been taken on the day of import. Photos are fine though.

    There is a thread on Google's community forums with over 10k replies with people having the same issue. Google responded ONCE saying they were looking into it, yet haven't produced any evidence since.

    For something that seems to have affected so many, you would think the tech giant would step up and sort it

  2. Adam
    May 27, 2017 at 11:41 am

    I moved from an iPhone to a Pixel last year, both are great phones, and both iCloud photos and Google photos provide a great service.

    Each arguably has the own pros and cons, hey that's life.

    The one thing that was disappointing (complete understatement btw) with Google photos is having imported 40gb of content from iCloud, it screwed the date flags up. This means all my videos prior to switching to Android all appear as though they have been taken on the day of import. Photos are fine though.

    There is a thread on Google's community forums with over 10k replies with people having the same issue. Google responded ONCE saying they were looking into it, yet haven't produced any evidence since.

    For something that seems to have affected so many, you would think the tech giant would step up and sort it.

  3. Davin Peterson
    May 26, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    The question is should be using an Iphone? Use Google Photos on a Google Android phone instead. Luckily, Google makes its app for both iOS and Android, but unfortunately Apple does not make its apps for Android and they should rather then making them exclusive to iOS. Google Photos is better than Apple photos.