At its Google I/O developer conference this week, Google showed off a number of new features coming to Google Photos. Key among them is a simpler, more proactive way to share photos with others.
As you may know, Google announced Google Photos two years ago, and it has turned into the best way to backup smartphone photos and rediscover memories. I’m a huge fan of Google Photos, and recommend it highly. And I’m not alone: Google revealed this week that over 500 million people actively use the service and its mobile app every month. And they collective upload over 1.2 billion photos to Google Photos. Every. Single. Day.
“In [building] Google Photos, we took a fundamental different approach,” Google VP Anil Sabharwal said during his appearance in the I/O keynote address yesterday. “We built the product from the ground up, with AI at its core.”
That AI underpinning is indeed what makes Google Photos so special: The search functionality is incredible and doesn’t rely on you manually entering meta data information for every picture. Instead, it automatically organizes your library by people, places, and things. It automatically creates albums for memories, choosing only the best photos. And it creates amazing movies and stylized photos from your library as well.
Google used its I/O conference to highlight some great new features for Google Photos. These include:
Simpler, more proactive photo sharing. While the current sharing functionality in Photos already works well, it doesn’t address a very real need: Too many great photos we take on our smartphones remain hidden away from the people who would love them the most, because we forget or neglect to share them. So now a new Sharing page in the Photos app—and notifications—will suggest the photos you have that, maybe, should be shared with others. And because it’s AI-based, Sharing will even suggest who the photos should be shared with. Sharing occurs through the app if the other users have Google Photos, or via email or SMS otherwise. And Google Photos users can add their own photos to shared albums too.
Automatic photo sharing. This is a feature I’ve wanted for a long time: The ability to automatically share family photos with my significant other (in this case, my wife). Now, Google Photos can automatically share libraries with the people you specify choose. You can share all of your photos, photos of specific people, or only photos taken since a certain date. Those you’re sharing with can save any photos to their own library. More impressively, they can also choose to automatically save all photos or photos of certain people (like your kids) to their own library.
Photo books. Yes, Google is getting into the photo book printing business, but in a very Google-like way. It works from your phone, but unlike other book-making services, you don’t have to hunt for the best photos and then upload them. Instead, you select a range of photos (perhaps from search) and then Photos will automatically suggest the best photos. From there, you can edit the book, tweak the design, and order the book. Google says it will use machine learning to create personalized photo books for you proactively; you can check them out and then order the ones you want. Prices start at $9.99, and this capability is available on the web today. Photo books is coming to Google Photos on Android and iOS next week, with more countries being added “soon.”
Google Lens integration. While the Google Lens service will work in real time through Google Assistant, helping you identify nearby places, it will also be used in Photos to help you identify the places in your pictures. This feature is rolling out “later this year,” Google says, and will get better over time
Folks, these features are amazing. And if you’re still using something like OneDrive, you have to wonder when—or if—Microsoft will ever both to even try to catch up. Google Photos is already the best way to manage photos. And it just keeps getting better.