Google Photos Makes Sharing Easier

Posted on May 18, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Mobile, iOS, Android, Music + Videos with 9 Comments

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.

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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Google Photos Makes Sharing Easier”

  1. Darmok N Jalad

    Looks like they are definitely thinking about how to better serve people with photos. Maybe it should also ask "are you sure you want to send that?" When someone chooses a crappy photo that the receiver won't even look at. :)

    Lastly, in this realm of diminishing smartphone advancements, I wish someone would figure out a way to record video and let the user chose what aspect ratio and orientation to use after taking the video. So many people take vertical videos that look downright ridiculous on a widescreen display, like when the news uses someone's phone footage for a story. Either make the camera default to horizontal regardless of the way the phone is held, or take a High-res square video and apply machine learning to edit it to a proper horizontal letterbox ratio.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

      I could think of a few photos of my grandparents I'd like my cousins to send me regardless of how poor the photos are. Sometimes technically poor photos are beyond value. I may be a Luddite, but I'd prefer not to delegate value judgments to Google Photos.

      • Darmok N Jalad

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        I was actually just joking.

        Then again, if Google Photos is trying to help decide which pictures are best for sharing or for albums, then it already is "value judging" content. It could be an interesting discussion on AI, and how a machine can start determining beauty or value of a photo like a person would. Curious what its criteria are.

  2. MattHewitt

    I'm still looking forward to some easy way to one-click delete all of the photos in Google Photos. I'd really like to start fresh and reupload everything without duplicates without creating a new Google ID.

  3. Waethorn

    I can certainly see many previous Apple customers looking for the photo book option to get in on this. I prefer outputting to TV though. Size, brightness, and colour quality are all better on a backlit screen than on print. Sharpness, maybe not, but that really doesn't matter when you see it on a decent-quality 1080p or 4K TV. A photo slideshow via a Chromecast is a better option IMO.

  4. dcdevito

    I feel Photos is their best app, perhaps their best product since Gmail and Search itself.

  5. crfonseca

    This is not creepy at all.

    I also like how Google, as they always do, happily identifies and tags *other* people on your photos, without bothering with silly notions like privacy or permission to do it.

  6. Chris_Kez

    I really like Google Photos for quickly making little movies, but I wish they would add three things to improve that aspect:

    1) An option to output a higher quality version for viewing on larger monitors or TVs

    2) A way to create new movies from the web; right now it can only be done from a mobile device

    3) New music; they've had the same custom ditties for years. I'd like them to add four or five new ones every year.