Google just solved the biggest problem with mobile photography

Since 2012, Google’s cloud service Drive has offered 15 GB of free storage space — considerably more than the measly 5GB offered by Apple’s iCloud, which is so often responsible for that infamous “Not Enough Storage” notification iOS users frequently encounter.

I tried automatic photo back-ups to Google Drive for a while and found it incredibly useful and convenient. For example, I could take a photo with my smartphone, and instead of sending it to myself via email, I could open up Drive on my laptop and I’d instantly find the picture I just took. And being able to bring up my photos on any device with the old Google Photo app was so seamless.

But, that storage space, though large, was still finite, and my available Google Drive space would quickly be used up by photos. It was just a matter of time until I took 15GB worth of photos, and I wasn’t about to manage them by going through thousands of them to delete those I didn’t want. That’s like trying to manage an unwieldy iTunes library in the age of music streaming services like Spotify. Even if I constantly maintained my photo backup library in Google Drive, I’d continually run out of space — and I needed that space for other important things like documents and files.

The thing is, I couldn’t bring myself to pay a monthly fee for additional storage, not when I would eventually run out of that storage space, too. And I already have a bunch of unused storage on my computer I could backup photos to.

So I did. I had to back up photos onto my computer, just to free up space on my phone for new photos. I have a folder on my laptop with about 50 or so gigabytes of photos, and that’s not OK anymore. I don’t want my photo album of memories sitting at home, like people did in the past. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve wanted to bring up a photo while out and about but couldn’t because it was stored on my laptop.

Yet, I still couldn’t bring myself to pay for more cloud storage, either.

Google Photos android app all the photosScreenshotThese are photos I took on an older phone, and Google’s free unlimited photo cloud storage lets me bring them with me where I go.

Google fixed all of that by letting us store unlimited photos in Google Photos, which was introduced at Google’s developer conference in late May. So now, anyone using Google Photos can take as many photos as they want and never worry about accessing those treasured memories at any point in the future. That means you can carry photos of your friends and loved ones, your happy memories, and any random image you’ve happened to pick up along the way, wherever you go.

Interesting features, like automatically adjusting the lighting to make photos look better, automatically sorting your photos into location and time-based albums, and even combining several of your photos and videos into one video that looks “professionally made,” are great. But free and unlimited storage and the ability to see all your photos from any device is the factor that makes Google’s new service worthwhile.

Others like Amazon, Dropbox, and Microsoft are likely to follow suit with unlimited photo cloud storage, but Google was the first to cross the finish line in the “race to zero.” Once the competition has caught up to Google, it will be about devising the most creative ways to organise and repackage your photos and videos and turn them into new memories you’ll want to experience again and again.

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