Google is officially going to break its social network, Google+, into two separate products: Streams and Photos.
Although Google+ as an overall product has a bad rap, the photo service, which can automatically organise and edit all your pictures, is great.
If you’re not using it already, you should give it a try.
Here are some of the best things about Google+’s photo product:
Stories are probably the best thing about Google+ Photos: Google will automatically choose your best photos from a trip or event and arrange them in a fun timeline that you can edit and add captions to.
Generally, Photos is most valuable if all the photos you take on your phone automatically back-up to Google+ (here’s how you can make that happen).
To use Stories, you should also turn on Google Location History, which allows Google to periodically store your smartphone’s most recent location data (here’s how to do that for Android or iOS).
Weaving together your photos, videos, and places you visited, Google essentially makes you a digital scrapbook, a gorgeous travelogue that takes zero effort. Google knows the window for sharing photos is small, so each custom Story will be generated quickly and automatically and you’ll get a Google+ notification when it’s ready.
Google’s “auto-awesome” features can make GIFs out of photos taken in rapid succession, create photobooth-style grids of pictures, add fun filters, and stitch photos together into panoramas.
Here’s a GIF Google made for me:
Google also added filters to one of my sunrise photos:
Google makes it incredibly easy to search through your Google+ photos — you can even do it right from the regular search bar.
If you search “my photos of ____,” Google will use context clues and meta-data to sort through and bring up the right results:
It’s not fool-proof, but it’s a quick and easy way to start.
Google automatically separates your photos into albums by date or location and makes it easy to browse through the best ones, by pulling out your “Highlights.” As you can see below, I took 40 photos on February 15, and Google just shows the dozen that its algorithms think are my best:
Even if those features didn’t win you over, the bare minimum of being able to back up your photos for free is pretty nice (if you want to back-up high-res, large photos — over 2048 x 2048 pixels — it will count against the 15 GB of Drive space every Google user gets for free).
Now that Google is breaking Photos into a separate product, it might find even more ways to make the service valuable and useful.