5 Reasons to Use Google Photos Over iCloud Photos
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If you own an iPhone or iPad, should you be using Google Photos or iCloud Photos to store and manage your photos?

Some people advocate using iCloud Photos over Google Photos, but we think Google Photos is superior to iCloud Photos in several ways.

If you’re wondering which photo app to use on an iPhone or an iPad, keep reading. Here are the main reasons to choose Google Photos over iCloud Photos on iOS.

1. Google Photos Is Cheaper

The most significant reason to use Google Photos over iCloud Photos is the cost of the two services.

As iOS and macOS users will be acutely aware, Apple only provides its users with 5GB of free space. Photos that you upload from your mobile device and desktop/laptop count against that limit.

When you also include things like Time Machine backups, shared files, and other cloud-based data, you can hit the limit in no time.

And extra storage space doesn’t come cheap. 50GB costs $0.99/month, 200GB costs $2.99/month, and 2TB is $9.99/month. If you’re planning to use the app for your entire photo library, you’ll almost certainly need the top plan.

2. Google Photos Offers More Free Storage

Google offers all users 15GB of free space. Better yet, if you are happy to accept a reduced resolution (up to a maximum of 16 megapixels), you can store an unlimited number of photos without using any of your 15GB allowance.

If you think that will lead to a loss in quality on photos you take using your iPhone, you’re wrong. Even the latest iPhone X and iPhone XS only have 12-megapixel rear-facing cameras. You’re only going to lose quality if you want to back up photos to your Mac that you’ve taken using a professional grade camera.

Furthermore, Google Photos can automatically resize the photos as you upload them, so you’re never going to hit your limit unexpectedly.

To give you a reference point, 16 megapixels is good enough to print a 24 x 16 inches photograph without any loss in quality.

3. Google Photos Offers Cross-Platform Support

Few people restrict themselves to using a single operating system. And even if you only own Apple equipment, you’re almost certainly going to come into contact with other platforms at work, school, or in the homes of family and friends.

Google Photos will let you access your images on all those platforms. There are mobile apps for Android and iOS, there’s a web app, and you can even sideload the app on devices like Android TV, the Amazon Fire TV Stick, and smart TVs. There’s also a desktop app so you can back up your photos from Windows or macOS.

Apple’s iCloud Photos isn’t quite so universal. Yes, it comes pre-installed on all iOS devices, and there’s a Windows app and a web app, but Android users are out of luck. As are people who want to access their photos on other smart devices they have around their home.

Bottom Line: If you think there’s ever a chance that you might abandon iOS and become an Android user, Google Photos is a smarter choice.

4. Google Photos Boasts Better Search Options

Google operates the most sophisticated search engine in the world, so it should come as no surprise to learn that the AI that underpins Google Photos are equally powerful and impressive.

Every time you upload a new image to Google Photos, the app will scan the photo and establish who or what is in it.

As a result, you can type phrases such as “my dog”, “Barcelona”, or “the beach with John Doe,” and Google Photos will be able to find all the images that match the criteria in a flash.

Apple doesn’t have anything to rival this feature. If you want to find an image in your iCloud Photos library, you’ll need to search by date or find it manually. As you can appreciate, it’s a lot less slick and a lot more time consuming.

You can add your own tags to Apple Photos for easy searching, but most of us don’t have the time to do that for every photo they take while on the go.

Note: Here are more details on the search tools hidden within Google Photos 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 .

5. Google Photos Helps You Share Your Collection

google photos partner accounts

Sharing on iCloud Photos is far from bad. In fact, in some ways, it is superior to Google Photos. For example, if you want to share a photo via email, with iCloud Photos, the recipient will get copies of the image file; Google Photos just directs you back to the web app.

However, when it comes to sharing your entire library, Google Photos is better than iCloud Photos thanks to its Partner Accounts.

A Partner Account gives you a way to share your entire photo library with another user. Similarly, another user can share their library with you, then the two sets of photos can be integrated together in the app’s main view.

If you don’t want to give someone access to your entire library, you can get more specific too. This includes only sharing photos of a particular person (such as your child), or only showing photos older than a specific date (if you’re in a new relationship, for example).

Apple does have a Family Sharing feature which includes a shared family photo album, but you will need to manually add each photo for other people to be able to see it.

Does iCloud Photos Offer Any Unique Benefits?

Before we finish, here are a few words in defense of iCloud Photos, because the app does have some benefits that Google Photos cannot match:

  • Editing: iCloud Photos offers more extensive editing tools than Google Photos
  • Metadata: Unlike iCloud Photos, any photo you later download from Google Photos will not include the image’s original metadata.

You Can Use Both iCloud Photos and Google Photos

Photos are some of the most precious files you own, containing memories that are impossible to replicate if they are lost.

As such, it might be prudent to use both Google Photos AND iCloud Photos. Doing so means you get to take advantage of the best parts of both apps, including iCloud Photos’ seamless integration across other Apple products and Google Photos’ generous storage limits.

If you would like to learn more about how Google Photos compares with the competition, make sure to check out our articles pitching Google Photos vs. OneDrive Google Photos vs. OneDrive: What's the Best Backup Tool? Google Photos vs. OneDrive: What's the Best Backup Tool? Here's our head-to-head comparison of Google Photos vs. OneDrive to determine which is the best tool to back up your photos. Read More , iCloud Photos vs. Google Photos vs. Dropbox, and Amazon Photos vs. Google Photos.

Explore more about: Google Photos, iCloud, Photo Management.

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  1. Bob Barker
    September 2, 2019 at 11:03 am

    "Metadata: Unlike iCloud Photos, any photo you later download from Google Photos will not include the image’s original metadata."

    wrong

  2. Station Grey
    June 20, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    I came across this article looking to compare Apple and Google Photos apps - it came up first as the Google result.

    Having some experience of both, and intensely disliking skewed opinion, I have to point out that almost every negative Apple point made above is completely inaccurate.

    1. Google Photos is Cheaper

    No it's not. The two are essentially identical, with some combinations of storage/payment schedule being cheaper on Apple, some on Google.

    To then go on to say 'extra storage doesn't come cheap' is just stupid. $0.99/month for 50GB - that's expensive? Sure, ok.

    To then say that you'll 'almost certainly need the top plan' is also criminally stupid. 2TB? Have you any idea whatsoever how much 2TB is? Even allowing for a fairly generous 5Mb filesize/photo, that's 366,000 photos. Sure, everyone has nearly half a million photos.

    2. Google Photos Offers More Free Storage

    Yes, true. Currently 15Gb to 5Gb. Though some inaccuracies follow this.

    Claiming that choosing the reduced resolution option when uploading to Google will not reduce the quality of photos at all on an iPhone XS, simply isn't true. In many cases the image will be cropped and in every case there'll be significant compression to reduce the file size right down. This won't exactly destroy the image, and you'll *probably* not be able to tell without zooming in closely, but it will be compressed nonetheless. It won't be the original or have the original quality.

    And to say that 16 megapixels is 'good enough to print a 24 x 16 inches photograph without any loss in quality' is a terrible untruth I'm afraid. A standard, high quality print would be significantly smaller than this, even if you didn't crop the image.

    3. Google Photos Offers Cross-Platform Support

    Again, starts off with some truths here. Yes, there's an iOS app for Google photos as well as for Android, and no, Apple don't offer a dedicated app for Android.

    But no, there's no Google Photos app for macOS and when you say that Android users can't access Apple Photos then you're forgetting about the web app which you'd already mentioned and then forgot about. Not that that's particularly relevant - how many people own both an iPhone and Android phone and need to view photos taken by one via a native app on the other?

    Also, it says twice that you can view Google photos on 'smart TVs' and 'other smart devices' but not so with Apple photos. Surely that depends on which devices these are? For example, the Apple TV, which is more popular than the Google equivalent, has syncing of Apple photos but not Google's. So, it all depends on what you own. But ultimately, they're roughly even here.

    4. Google Photos Boasts Better Search Options

    This one's just a lie, or very poorly researched. It talks about Google's very clever AI which allows you to search by using phrases such as 'dog', 'Barcelona' etc. And then says "Apple doesn’t have anything to rival this feature. If you want to find an image in your iCloud Photos library, you’ll need to search by date or find it manually"

    Not true at all. Apple has had an equivalent feature for years. Whether it's as good as Google's is for debate, and I suspect Google might have the edge, but Apple's is incredibly good. To say it doesn't exist is poor.

    The rest of the article is less bad, and frankly I'm tired! But, suffice it to say, please do more research than just follow the advice of one dreadful article if you want to compare products.

  3. Matt
    April 7, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    “If you want to find an image in your iCloud Photos library, you’ll need to search by date or find it manually”

    This statement is incorrect. You can search by photo contents (people and things) much like google photos now. It’s not as good as googles search algorithms but it’s very close.

  4. Jesslyn
    April 7, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    Google photos is also a great way to share general stuff. Each season my family makes an album where we put all our pics from daily life. It's shared with the grandparents, my generation and now the kids old enough to have their own phones Anyone can add a pic or video and we get a notification when something new is added. Since we're spread all over the US, it's a way to see what's going on.
    We have some iPhone users and despite initial reluctance, once they used it, they were hooked.

  5. Davin Peterson
    April 5, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Google Photos is also on the web at https:/'photos.google.com. I don't know if iCloud Photos is on the web. Apple maps their apps only for iOS. They not available for Android or on the web.