Stung by the superior functionality in services like Google Photos, Microsoft has begun to improve OneDrive to follow suit. And one Google Photos-like feature I’ve started noticing in recent days—automatic photo albums—is just one of a handful of recent OneDrive updates, Microsoft says.
This is an interesting but suddenly not all that unique twist. After I started using Google Play Music because Groove was so terrible, Microsoft improved Groove with the mobile support and music discovery features I complained were missing. After I started using and paying for Dropbox last year, Microsoft has steadily improved OneDrive, and while initial client sync is still stupid-slow, the reliability and general performance of the service has improved immensely. And with OneDrive good only for basic backup of phone photos, I’ve begun using and recommending Google Photos instead, because of the awesome additional features it provides, including automatic albums.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think Microsoft made these improvements because of me. I think Microsoft made these improvements because many people were complaining about the problems; I’m just one of them. But as I observed in Microsoft Issues Major Groove Update for Android and iPhone earlier this week, I had seen a steady decrease in my use of Microsoft apps and services over the past few years. And this trend was driven by their lack of utility compared to the competition and not because of any partisan desire to adopt rival platforms: I simply use what works best. But Microsoft, God bless ’em, has been adapting. And now comes this update to OneDrive.
“Photos are one of the most popular and most important file types that our users save to OneDrive,” OneDrive group program manager Douglas Pearce writes in a new post to the Office Blogs. “We’ve been working on improving the OneDrive photos experience across the web and in our mobile apps.”
Here’s what’s new.
Automatic albums. Just like the similar feature in Google Photos, OneDrive will select the best photos from a group that were taken around the same time and in the same place, and will create an album. It will notify you about these albums in the OneDrive mobile apps or via the Windows 10 Photos app (which is how I just noticed this), and it will create special Monday morning albums to celebrate your weekend photos.
On this day. Much like the similar feature in Google Photos—and I’ve argued this is the reason to adopt Google Photos—OneDrive now provides an “On this day” view that helps you discover photos take on this day in the past. This view updates every day with images you have taken over the years on that same day, and as Microsoft notes it’s a great way to relive birthdays or anniversaries or to remember old family vacations. (Google Photos works a bit differently, and basically treats these things—called “Rediscover this day”—as albums of a sort. But same idea.)
Improved search. With your photos just splashed into a single container, essentially, good search is a must. (I recently discussed how these cloud services have really changed photo management.) So now you can search directly from the All Photos view too, on the web, and in the OneDrive mobile apps.
Photo folders. Responding to user feedback, Microsoft has changed OneDrive so that cloud-based folders with a lot of photos in them now have dedicated views with a hero image, larger thumbnails, and a revised menu. Put simply, OneDrive should work pretty well for you no matter how you store your photos.
Updated Photos app for Windows 10. Now, when you sign in to Windows 10 with your Microsoft account, all of your OneDrive photos will show up in the Photos app. This includes automatic albums that were created for you as well as your own manually-created albums.
Poké detector. This one is ridiculous, but seizing on the Pokémon craze that has swept the world in recent weeks, Microsoft has updated OneDrive to show off captured Pokémon screenshots so that you can more easily find them and share them with others. “When you have the OneDrive app on your phone and camera upload is turned on, the screenshots you take from the game are automatically saved to OneDrive and 150 Pokémon are identified for your searching and viewing pleasure,” Mr. Pearce explains. “You can also search for your favorite Pokémon by name.” Incredible.
Tagged with Digital photos