This site is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. What is written in the article is the editor's opinion.
I was initially wary of:
- Another app
- Another recurring charge on my card
- Another something to keep track of
But I’ll go ahead and say, you can do well with the free version. Especially if you don’t already have a backup.
In fact, whether you decide to pay the $2 per month or not, this app is a MUST download.
In This Post
Why the Google Photos app?
Somebody on the internet is telling you to download yet another app. What else is new, right?
This one’s worth it, though. Because it can actually save space on your phone by creating an online backup of all your photos.
Once they’re uploaded, you can delete the dozens of selfie attempts, carefully arranged food photos, and endless shots of the same thing in various degrees of zoom. (I hope to god that’s not just me.)
Even better, you can upload every. single. photo. currently on your phone. Yes, it will take a while to upload. But once it’s done, you can erase the pictures of a Mai Thai you drank in Hawaii in 2013 without guilt. And free up a ton of space on your phone.
Pro tip: Set it to only back up when connected to wifi to save your cellular data!
About that $2 charge
Google Photos will back up all your photos free and without limits, “up to 16MP and 1080p HD.”
Or, you can pay $2 a month for your photos to be uploaded at their full size and quality. Now, the free version is actually more than enough – the quality will still be fantastic. And any changes will likely be imperceptible to the naked eye. Especially if all you’re doing is uploading them to Facebook, or a blog post, or sharing with friends.
Still, I opted to pay the $2 monthly charge to preserve the file size. I have that thought in the back of my mind that says, “You never know.”
What if I want to make a photo book one day? Or blow up one of the pictures? Or just have the photos of my loved ones to look at years and years from now – what will I want to do with these photos in the future?
I can’t know the answer of course, but I want the option to have the original size. And for that (probably ridiculous) reason, I am willing to pay the very nominal amount each month.
What it does
The search function is where is gets really cool. And there are some built-in features that are really handy and fun.
For one, it’s dead simple to search. You can search for people (through face recognition), places (based on geo-tag), or things (like monuments, wine bottles, or dogs).
And, you can create albums to share, collages, even animation and videos. Google will make some of these for you automatically – and it’s super fun when they pop up.
There’s also a news feed like you see above – “Rediscover this day” – that is totally charming. It flashes me back to a particular day. The day I met a friend for the first time. Or visited a new place. Or simply had a good one.
How to search
I always talk about my dog. And of course I have dozens of photos of him on my phone. But now I type “dog” into the Google Photos app and BAM:
It works well for places, too. This is perhaps the easiest search to perform.
For example, my search for “Munich” returned lots of images of beer steins from Oktoberfest. Perrrrfect. 🙂
I also typed in “monuments” just to see what would turn up. Impressively, I was shown photos of… monuments. Good job, Google!
A few extras
Here’s the info Google Photos keeps for each of your photos:
You can create an album to share. Or you can share individual photos.
The amount of share options is wild. You can text or email. Or you can get a link, add it to an album, post to Facebook, tweet it, or add it to any app on your phone.
You can also let others add their photos to a shared album – a nice way to compile photos from a trip or event with everyone who was there.
Finally, even though it’s called Google Photos, it backs up your video files, too. Those little suckers can slurp up your phone storage fast. So I like how they’re included in the backup.
Back up your backup
Another quick tippy-poo. If you really care about your photos, put them in 2 or 3 places.
Google Photos is great. I’m sure it will stick around long-term. But I always backup my backup – a lesson learned the hard way from one too many failed hard drives.
So download your photos periodically. Or backup to the Apple Cloud thingy (whatever they’re calling it now).
So my pictures are on my phone, in Google Photos, and in Evernote – virtually guaranteeing I’ll never lose them.
I opted for the $2 a month version, which keeps the original file size and quality.
But you can do well with the free version. And if you don’t currently have your photos backed up, download it like right this second. Because you will want those if you lose your phone. And Google Photos lets you back up every photo you currently have on your device for free.
The search and sharing features are top-notch. The app is simple to use. And, it does what it’s supposed to do: keep track of your photos (and videos!).
Do you have the Google Photos app? Feel free to share any tips or thoughts about the service!
BEST Current Credit Card Deals
- Chase Sapphire Reserve - 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points - My review of this card.
- Discover it® Cashback Match™ Card - $50 after 1st purchase within 3 months of account opening - Why I love this card!
- Hilton Surpass Amex - 85,000 Hilton points - Why I picked up this card.
- Chase Hyatt card - 40,000 Hyatt points and a free night at a Category 1 through 4 hotel each year on your cardmember anniversary - Here are 5 great hotels to redeem your free night!