'How does Google Photos work?': Everything you need to know about Google's photo storage app for iPhone and Android

ShutterstockGoogle Photos is a popular app, but if you’re not quite sure how it works, don’t worry — you’re not alone.
  • Learning how Google Photos works can go a long way towards optimising your photo storage, no matter what device you use.
  • Google Photos lets you store, share, view, and edit photos and videos, and includes an AI-powered assistant to help manage your media.
  • It works for both Android and iOS devices, and provides an automatic backup for your media.
  • Google Photos can be free with unlimited storage – but there are caveats. Those who can’t stick to those caveats can opt to upgrade and pay a monthly fee.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Launched in 2015, Google Photos is a tool that can store photos, videos and screenshots taken by your phone.

It’s a solid media backup to have at your disposal. And, because it’s a cloud-based tool, it can free up space on your phone. Plus, it works on both Android and iOS devices.

Here are a few more things to know about how Google Photos works:

How does Google Photos work?

Google Photos users can upload new photos, view, edit, save and create new videos, animations, collages, albums and photos books. You can also download everything, meaning your cloud-based backup can itself be easily backed up onto your computer or external hard drive.

For those who don’t have a Google device (like the Pixel phone), you can opt to automatically backup and sync your photos and videos as you take them. If you have an Android device, you can limit backup data usage, so you don’t run out of data uploading things in the background.

You can also set your Google Drive to keep a copy of your photos and videos by going to your Drive’s settings, turning on “Create a Google Photos Folder,” and clicking save. As photos are added to your account, they will be sorted into categories.

GOOGLE PHOTOS SCREENSHOT 1Devon Delfino/Business InsiderYou can save and share all your photos and videos in Google Photos.

You can easily share photos and albums using the share feature, whether they have photos in them or not. And, provided you have the “backup and sync” feature turned on, you can retrieve your files from the trash for up to 60 days after hitting delete. Or you can always archive photos to get them out of the way, but have them remain searchable within your account.

It has free, unlimited storage – with a few caveats

Google Photos comes with free, unlimited storage – but that’s only if you opt to save “high quality” images, as opposed to original quality images which may actually be higher resolution. That means those larger files will be compressed to save space, unless your account’s settings say otherwise. The resolution limit for photos is 16MP, while videos are compressed to 1080p.

You can allow auto-compression for future uploads by going to your settings and selecting “high quality”. And you can apply that change to past photos by clicking “recover storage,” which is also located within settings.

For those who prefer to go with original file sizes, it’s free up to 15GB, and that includes everything from Photos to Gmail to everything else in the Drive. After that, you could upgrade, via the Google One subscription plan, starting at $US1.99 per month for 100GB.

It features an AI-powered assistant

Google Photos provides users with a lot of auto-generated extras. For example, it can create photo-book collections, grouping together pictures based on factors like the date, people, and the places featured. Users are also given the option to print and ship those books (for a fee of course.)

The Assistant will also take photos that were captured in rapid succession and turn them into GIFs (referred to as “animations”), while individual photos can be saved as motion photos – meaning they record video of a few seconds before and after you’ve taken the shot. These may also be known as Live Photos to iPhone users.

It has other smart features

The robust search option is a major draw for the platform. It lets you search for generic subjects, like “dogs” or “beach” to narrow your options, which is especially useful if you haven’t yet sorted your pictures into albums.

It also gives you the option to identify different people in your photos by manually putting a name to the face. After that, pictures with those people are automatically sorted so you can later search for pictures featuring specific people.

GOOGLE PHOTOS SCREENSHOT 2Devon Delfino/Business InsiderTap the search bar and click the arrow next to the photo bubbles to start giving faces searchable identities within your Photos.

In a similar vein, you can also set it to create “live albums,” which automatically populate with photos of friends and family members.

For those looking to backup their physical photo prints, you can quickly ‘scan’ those to have them uploaded by taking a quick pic using your phone or other Photos-friendly device. And for those who photograph paper documents, Google Photos also lets you highlight desired sections of text, and even crop out backgrounds to make it easier to do things like upload and expense a receipt from a work trip.

Google Photos is a powerful and versatile tool that requires little effort to use to its fullest. And, given the fact that it provides free, unlimited storage without sacrificing too much on photo and video quality, it can be a solid option for backing up your media files.

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