NEW: Check Out Google Photos
Google Photos is a “new” photo and video storage, editing, and organizing tool introduced at the Google I/O conference held in May. Photo management used to be part of Google+, but Google has spun this service off from its languishing social network and added some interesting features. Read on for the scoop…
What Can Google Photos Do For You?
Do you have photos scattered all over your desktop, laptop, and mobile devices? Do you have trouble finding photos in your collection, because there's no organization? If you answered YES to either of those questions, Google Photos may be a big help to you.
Among the features you'll find in Google Photos are cross-device aggregation of photos, automatic grouping of related photos, and unlimited free cloud storage space. Here’s how Google Photos works:
First, download the Google Photos app for your Android, iOS, and/or Windows desktop environment. The download links are at the top-right of the Google Photos “About” page. Next, login to your Google account.
The first time you run the app, it will walk you through configuration of which devices and folders to scan for photos. External devices such as SD cards and cameras can be included if desired. Whenever an external storage device (ie: an SD card or flash drive) is connected to a device that’s running the app, photos on the external device will be uploaded to Google Photos. On the desktop app, you can also specify whether photos uploaded from external devices should be copied to a folder on your PC or laptop. These settings can be changed later if desired.
During configuration, you can choose between unlimited free cloud storage with compression of images that are over 16 Mpixels, or uncompressed photos up to the storage limit of your Google Drive account. Everyone has at least 15 GB of free Google Drive space; 100 GB is only $2/month and a terabyte costs $10/month. All but professional photographers will do just fine with unlimited free storage; compressed images will still print sharp 8x10s on an inkjet printer.
Once the settings are saved, the app gets busy scanning for photos and uploading them to the cloud. There, Google Photos applies some pattern-recognition mojo to analyze photos for general characteristics, e. g., are there people in the image, and specific similarities between images, e. g., is the same person’s face in several images.
People, Places and Things
The algorithms produce a two-tiered organization structure. The top level includes groups for People, Places, Things, and Types (photo or video file). Within each top-level group, photos that seem to be of the same person, place, or thing are grouped together. You can refine the contents of groups or add tags and names manually to improve organization.
Like Google Translate and voicemail-to-text, this automatic organization sometimes produces amusing results. A rattlesnake’s rattle was lumped into a group named “flowers.” But it also digs up photos you may have forgotten you had, or could not remember on which device you stored it.
Naturally, there’s a search box at the top of the Google Photos page. The keywords you enter are matched against tags that Google Photos assigns to photos based on pattern recognition, metadata in an image, and contextual data such as the name of the image file or the folder in which it was found. You might (for example) find it handy to locate all of your photos with flowers, dogs, or waterfalls.
Editing tools appear when you click on an image to display it in a lightbox. You can crop, rotate, or auto-enhance images. Or, fiddle with the brightness, color filters, and "pop" settings on your own.
You can also send an image to Snapchat or Twitter with just a click or tap.
“The Assistant” is an automatic photo editor built into Google Photos. It tries (with varying success) to stitch together apparently related images in collages, animations, and panoramas. On the About page for Google Photos, there is an example showing how related photos and videos can be automatically combined into a professional-looking movie with a matching soundtrack.
The Assistant can also create Stories, albums containing related photos such as a series of vacation snapshots. Using geolocation and time data often embedded in photos taken with smartphones, the Assistant can piece together a day-by-day account of your last vacation, including a map of your travel route.
Some of the stories and animations that Google Photos created for me were very interesting, recalling fond memories. Other were simply hilarious mashups of unrelated photos.
Google Photos is more than a free cloud storage locker for your pics and videos. The more content you add to Google Photos, the more surprising and interesting tricks its Assistant will show you.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 9 Jun 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- NEW: Check Out Google Photos (Posted: 9 Jun 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved