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
My phone: *iCloud Storage Is Full*
Me: *Deletes 2k photos*
My phone: pic.twitter.com/toaET9KckC
— Em ? (@emilyvillegas47) March 22, 2019
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 Photos (@googlephotos) April 19, 2018
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.
5. Google Photos Helps You Share Your Collection
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, iCloud Photos vs. Google Photos vs. Dropbox, and Amazon Photos vs. Google Photos.