As much as I hate to admit it I am not an early adopter. It’s not that I have anything against innovation, I just want someone else to be the guinea pig in case something goes wrong. This approach has served me well in the past. Just this year it’s saved me from blowing up all of our stuff with the lithium ion batteries in hover boards and in the new Samsung Galaxy Note 7; it’s also saved me from accidentally poisoning my kids with laundry detergent pods – should they choose to ingest them (and my guess is that there is one who would have tried it).
Sometimes it pays to be a little slow on the draw.
Not so with Google Photos. How I wish I’d known about this photo and video sharing and storage service by Google when it came out in May 2015. The fun I could have been having over the last 18 months!
If you aren’t using Google Photos yet these cool features will be sure to sway you.
It’s free – how can you beat that?
I was turned on to Google Photos by a friend this summer during a family vacation. The free Dropbox space I received with my first iPhone plan expired a few months ago, so I have been paying $9.99 a month to store my photos and I was in the market for a new option.
Enter Google Photos. You can choose between two Google Photos plans. The first (free) plan works for what most of us use a photo storage system for – to document our lives with the photos we take on our phones. If you want to store higher quality photos (maybe photography is your hobby) the storage will count against the free 15GB Google gives you for Google Drive accounts. Once you’ve exceeded 15GB (that’s a lot of space) you can purchase up to 100GB for only $1.99. That’s a steal compared to what Dropbox has been getting from me.
The price wasn’t the feature that drew me to Google Photos, it was the speed with which photos populate on the page. Finding photos on Dropbox has been nothing short of a nightmare for me. It takes forever for them to load, and then they aren’t sorted by date so I can never find what I am looking for. Photos pull up in Google Photos very quickly – just as quickly as Drive folders appear on the screen (Robin and I are diehard Drive users). Yes, internet connection speed has something to do with the page load time for sure, but Google Photos pulls this off with ease.
You can search by timeline
Once you’re in Google Photos you can search for photos a couple of ways. Yes, you read that right. You can actually search for photos. There is the timeline bar on the right, so if you know the general date you took the photo – Halloween 2015, no problem – scroll to that month and year on the timeline bar and you are there.
You can search by search term
It’s true. I’m not joking.
If you want to find a picture of the Yuengling sign you took while on tour of their brewery a few years ago, simply enter ‘sign’ in the search bar and all of the photos the program recognizes as ‘signs’ will appear on the page. Not perfect, but pretty near.
You can search by face, place, and type of collection too.
When you put your cursor in the search bar the entire realm of search possibilities appears. Google recognizes people who appear frequently in your photos and gives you the option of searching by their faces – see the circles in the screen shot below??? Just click on one of them.
You can search by selfie, by screenshot (I use this a lot), by movies, by animation, and by collages (we’ll get to these in a second).
Google will also give you a list of cities and towns where you frequently take photos, so you can search your photos that way too.
Photo Grouping Tools
Remember that stream of photos you took? You can make them into short animations with Google Photos. And then save them forever.
GIFs are fun when they’re yours (and not the Kardashians), aren’t they?
You can also make collages.
And organize all of your photos into albums based on whatever organizing strategy works for you (please share if you’ve got a successful method – I am looking for one).
There are some basic photo editing features as well so you can quickly adjust lighting and color…
…add color filters…
…or crop and rotate.
You can easily share your photos or photo creations by clicking on the share icon.
This gives you the option of sharing your finished masterpieces with others via social media or link; you can also collaborate with others to populate the shared Rhode Island 2016 Family Road Trip folder so every minute of the 8 hour drive with four small kids can be documented.
The clever assistant
Perhaps my favorite Google Photos feature is the Assistant. I, like you, am very busy and don’t have a lot of time to make collages, animations, or even organize my photos by folder. Guess who does? You got that right – the Assistant. With one simple click the Assistant will offer a range of photo grouping options for your viewing pleasure. You can then save them in your library and find them with ease whenever your fancy is tickled.
You can’t go wrong with that.
So what are you waiting for? Head on over to Google Photos now and check it out. Your assistant is waiting for you.