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28 May 2015

At its I/O 2015 keynote presentation today, Google unveiled Google Photos, its photo management and sharing service for iOS, Android and the Web.

As we take more and more photos, "It's almost impossible to find that one photo right at the moment you need it, and sharing a bunch of photos at once is frustrating, often requiring special apps and logins," the company explained in a blog post by Anil Sabharwal, who heads Google Photos, published at the same time as the keynote presentation.


In the blog post, Google highlighted the main features of Google Photos:

A home for all your photos and videos.

You can now backup and store unlimited, high-quality photos and videos, for free. Google maintains the original resolution up to 16-Mp for photos, and 1080p high-definition for videos, and stores compressed versions of the photos and videos in "print-quality resolution."

There are now two store plans available. The new free plan provides unlimited storage for images up to 16-Mp while the original paid provides 15-GB of free storage with tiers of 100-GB for $1.99/month or 1-TB for $9.99/month. The options are spelled out on the Help Center page.

Organize and bring your moments to life

The app automatically organizes your images "by the people, places, and things that matter" with no manual tagging or labeling or even album creation.

The app's instant adjustments can tune a photo's color, lighting and subject "to make each photo look its best."

Swiping left opens the Assistant view, which will suggest new creations you can make with your images and videos, "such as a collage or a story based on a recent trip you took." After previewing the piece, you can keep, edit or discard it.

Easily share and save what matters

You can create a link to share to any set of photos and videos, or any album. The recipient can see what you shared without a special app or login and save the high-quality images to their own library with a single tap.


In an interview with Steven Levy on the eve of the launch of Google Photos, Bradley Horowitz, Google's head of Streams, Photos and Sharing, explained the company's motivation:

We aspire to do for photo management what Gmail did for email management. Gmail wasn't the first email service. But it offered a different paradigm of how one managed one's inbox. We want to do that for photo management: To give you enough storage so you can relax and not worry about how much photo bandwidth you're consuming and enough organizing power so you don't have to think about the tedium of managing your digital gallery. It will happen for you transparently, in the background. I don't think there's another company on earth that can make that claim.

That automation isn't restricted to uploading images to the cloud, though. "We also want to bring all of the power of computer vision and machine learning to improve those photos, create derivative works, to make suggestions ... to really be your assistant," Horowitz said.


Google's John Nack published a blog post on the project this afternoon, adding more details.

In addition to the new search capabilities (be as fuzzy as you like), Nack cited the new image editor:

My part of the team has been working hard on an ultra-streamlined yet powerful image editor and I'll post more details about that (and about how it relates to Snapseed) soon. I've also been responsible for the Movies feature that automatically creates movies from your moments (or lets you make them on the fly), plus collages, animations and more (we're just getting warmed up).

Nack has also pointed out how to send feedback to the Google Photos team, which is among the three topics covered on this Help Center page.


Initial reports seemed to suggest only the iOS app for both the iPhone and iPad would be available later today. But the blog post promises the rollout will include Android and the Web today as well. And, it appears, the iOS rollout was bit delayed.

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