Google Photos Hits 1 Billion Users

Posted on July 25, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Cloud, Google, Google Photos, iOS, Mobile, Music + Videos with 28 Comments

Google Photos has quickly rocketed to the one billion user milestone, about four years after it was spun out of Google+.

It’s in good company: 8 other Google products—Search, Android, Chrome, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Maps, Google Play Store, and YouTube have all hit or exceeded that same milestone. And on Android, which now boasts 2.5 billion users, three apps—Maps, YouTube, and the Google app—have been downloaded over 5 billion times.

Fast Company has a nice overview of how Google Photos was built and why it is so successful. But the key here, I think, is that Google simply built a better version of something that customers were already doing. And users have flocked to the app as a result.

A big part of being better is offering free storage to all users. And while photos for non-Pixel owners can be “compressed,” most smartphones take lower-quality photos than Google’s compression bar anyway. For most, this is simply free storage.

And the service itself is excellent, too. Aside from offering automatic backup from smartphones, it provides regular AI-based treats to its users in the form of automatically-generated stylized photos, “Then & Now” shots that compare people in a recent photo to a photo of the same people together in the past, photo slideshow movies of recent events, and “rediscover this day” prompts that surface favorite events from the past.

Put simply, if there’s a service that deserves to have one billion users, it’s Google Photos.

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Comments (28)

28 responses to “Google Photos Hits 1 Billion Users”

  1. MarkWibaux

    The integration of the service with the Google home devices (3rd party ones also) was the initial reason I added Google photos to my synchronisation path. Now photos get uploaded to both OneDrive and Google.

    The surfacing of old photos stored in Google Photos via the Lenovo SmartScreen, was the single biggest factor that changed my wife's view of the device from "just another tech toy you wanted to play with" and thinking I should just keep it out of sight in my office. To "this is the greatest". It's amazing how often a series of photos can suck you in and bring back old memories.

    • Paul Thurrott

      In reply to MarkWibaux:

      Same. I also auto-backup to both Google Drive and OneDrive from my phones.

      • jdjan

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Meet too. In fact, color me paranoid if you will, but I do Google Photos for everyday use because the app is slick and feature-rich. OneDrive because, well, it's full quality I currently have the space available. Amazon because it's free with Prime and full quality (but no videos). I also try to make a local back-up every couple of months, but it's a manual process and I am not perfect it.

        As much as I trust in these cloud services, these are my precious memories and should not be be trusted to any one provider.

  2. JoePaulson

    I just wish the commenting and sorting of an album worked better. Trying to share photos and have conversations with your friends and family about them is difficult when the album sorts the new photos to the bottom on the phone and makes it hard to find the comments people have written so you can reply.

  3. m_p_w_84

    I enjoy using Google Photo's.

    But these numbers are always a bit nebulous in my opinion; however that Fast Company article you linked states the stat as more specifically a 'billion monthly users' - which is even more impressive.

    Given how much I personally enjoy using it I am pleased to hear it is doing well, because Google has a terrible record of just killing products.

  4. jupast

    Microsoft should do a proper Photos app, put all this 'ai' they're always talking about to good use. It's not like Google Photos is perfect, especially from a user-control point of view.

  5. UK User

    I'm not surprised at this as using both Google and Microsoft Photos app is an eye opener, Microsoft is a mess, and sorry to say One Drive, as far as photographs are concerned is going the same way. I've given up with the feedback hub with the many issues with Microsoft's photos mess so the Google version is a boon. As for privacy, it's a sad reflection on society that the only people able to get any real change, and an army of geeks reflecting their superior knowledge of computers warning us mere mortals against the evils of tech companies are not going to change things one iota, are the governments around the world. And they have hardly done a thing.

  6. faustxd9

    Not sure if this falls within the scope of expertise of the team, but I would love for someone to analyze the EULA on Google Photos to extrapolate what we are giving up on privacy to use the service. In other words, does it use the photos internally for testing or training the machine learning / artificial intelligence, does it compare my photos with other Google images/results, etc. Very hesitant to use a product (outside of Android) to do a lot while my data is "the product" a company is making money on before I figure that out. It might make for a compelling series of articles based on the different services.

  7. michaelpatricehuber

    So is it fair to think that Google now has at least one photo of close to half the population on earth (7.5bn people, 1bn Google Photos users taking pictures of say 3-5 non-Google Photo users). This is pretty remarkable. And maybe a bit scary.

  8. bluvg

    "Google simply built a better version of something that customers were already doing"

    Now... if only they would do the same with YouTube Music instead of let it wither and die for the past couple years....

  9. Skolvikings

    I wanted to like Google Photos but the size limitations were a non-starter for me. Especially when my smartphone takes beautiful 4K videos that I can watch on my 4K television and Google wants to only save an HD copy. No thank you.

  10. RonV42

    Amazing how many subscribers you get with a application that is installed by default and configured to be used the minute you activate your phone.

  11. Stooks

    1 Billion fools that gave their photos to Google......permanently. Watch the new show on Netflix "The Great Hack" it just came out.

  12. wright_is

    I use OneDrive for my photos, no compression. Plus I use mainly my cameras, so I take RAW images, which are 20 - 40MB each (depending on the camera), then I import them into CaptureOne and I then create "quick online" copies at lower resolution for viewing on the smartphone, then keep a separate folder structure for the original RAWs.

    • ulrichr

      In reply to wright_is:

      Yeah I'm in the same position. Those RAW files are big. Even on my cellphone I will often take RAW photos. I do publish JPG versions of my Lightroom albums to my synchronized Google Photos folder on my desktop, so that I can show off those pictures from my phone.

  13. minke

    I love having an album of my photos back to 2004 with me wherever I go. Plus knowing my priceless (to me) photos are backed up to the cloud is huge. One reason Pixel phones are great is unlimited storage in Google Photos at full resolution.

  14. dontbe evil

    Maybe because it's preinstalled in all android devices and all of them must have a google account... Oh wait, sorry this is not a ms article

  15. Tony Barrett

    I love the way Google Photos integrates with my Google Home Hub. I created a bunch of libraries and uploaded the photos (very painless), and now we get lots of random family memories displayed which often prompt discussion and lost minutes as we remember.

  16. StagyarZilDoggo

    Am I the only one to think that the AI in Google Photos is kinda dumb? At least regarding the built-in Places & Things categories. E.g. in the "Horses" category I have photos of some equestrian statues for sure, but also everything else from elephants to winged lions...

  17. pk277612

    thanks for this valuable Information

    Google Photos

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