How To Get Started With The New Google Photos

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How To Get Started With The New Google Photos

Photo of Google Photos interface
Google Photos is definitely worth installing on you iOS and Android devices and tablets.

The ubiquity of smartphones has resulted in an explosion of selfies, pets, food photos and just about anything else you can think of photographing. The key issue, of course, is where does one store the thousands of photos we each produce? Google, during it’s Google I/O conference in late May, was asking the same question and the solution is a new and improved Google Photo service and app.

In this “How To” I’ll walk through some of the highlights of the update. Let’s get started.

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How To Get The Updated Google Photos App

Upload options for Google Photos
You can opt for free, unlimited storage or if the images are over 16 megapixels, you can opt for paid storage.

Actually, you don’t need to find an update. The update was pushed out the same day as the announcement and, if you open the app, on your smartphone, tablet or desktop, the update is there. If you don't have it, you can pick it up at either the Google Play Store or Apple's App Store.What will happen, though is your photo library will be backed up, for free, to Google’s Cloud storage service. The neat thing about this is you can download the photos in your collection to your desktop by using the Google Takeout service found in the Google Personal Info & Privacy settings on your desktop. Click on the Create Archive link and a full backup will be downloaded to your PC.

You will also be asked if you want the free storage or the paid plan. What’s the difference? For most of us the free plan is all we will ever need. For pro photographers whose images are above 16 MP, the paid plan makes sense. With the free plan, any photo above the 16MP cap is compressed.

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How To Navigate Around Google Photos

Tbhe Google Photos viewing options.
It is up to you how your photos will be displayed on your device.

Once your photos have been synched your photo library will be sorted by date. This doesn’t mean you are stuck with this layout. Tap the settings on the interface and you are presented with three choices. The first is Comfortable View which presents the images in a variety of sizes. Compact View turns the library into uniformly sized thumbnails and Month View presents a monthly view of the photos in your library.

Moving through the photos is a breeze as you swipe up and down. Once you find a photo, tap it to open it. Swipe to the right and the Photos Assistant appears. Swipe to the left and your Collections appear.

If you want to open the various photo folders on your device swipe right to open the Assistant, and select the  Device Folders card. From here you can tap the Cloud icon to synch the folder with your Photos account.

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How To Use The Search Feature of Google Photos

Phioto showing all images with serach term of
Google Photos has an astounding Search feature that quickly finds the people, places and things in your Google Photos collectiions.

This is where Google Photos moves into the realm of “Wicked Cool”. Tap the Search icon , enter something you are looking for and all of the Photos that meet the criteria are presented. For example, I typed in the word “Camp” and was instantly presented with an image of my campsite from two years ago.

It gets better. If I am looking for a photo I shot in Toronto all I have to do is type in the name and I am presented with a series of photos I shot there starting in 2012 to today even if the photo isn’t geotagged. The app is smart enough to recognize landmarks in the photos and , if a photo is timestamped within an hour or so of that image,  the photos in that series are also presented.

Search is also amazing at finding stuff in your photos. I live in Canada and it occurred to me to see if I have any images of Maple Trees in my collection. I entered the Search term and within 5 seconds I am presented with all of the maple trees – and maple leaves- I have photographed and are in my Google Photos collection.

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How To Use Manual Awesomeness In Google Photos

Image of the the various options available for selected images.
Images can be added to new Albums, turned into Movies,Stories and Animations or can be turned into a Collage.

The desktop version of Google Photos occasionally presents me with a Story around a series of photos. I have never figured out how I could do it myself because of the random  “Auto Awesome” feature built into Google Photos. Now I can.

The mobile version of Google Photos allows you to select a bunch of photos and, by tapping the Plus icon, you can create a new Album, movie, Story, GIF Animation or Collage from the selection.

How awesome is that?