Google Photos brings you machine intelligence and ‘unlimited’ storage

Making our flood of images and video meaningful again. Photo: Google

Google Photos is designed to make images and video meaningful again. Photo: Google

Organizing the flood of photos and videos we all have is the central challenge of today’s photo apps, and Google has a new offering designed to solve this problem: Google Photos.

While the first screenshots shown onstage Thursday during the Google I/O conference in San Francisco looked quite a bit like Apple’s own Photos app, Google Photos uses machine learning and algorithms to create what could turn out to be the most useful way to store and share your pictures and videos.

Available sometime Thursday on Android and iOS, Google Photos aims to do three things: Provide a home for all your photos and videos, organize and bring your important moments to life, and make it easy to share and save what matters to you.

Not only will Google Photos let you back up and store high-quality photos and videos for no cost (up to 15 GB), but the service will even keep the original high-resolution files for you, up to 16 megapixels for photos and 1080p for videos. You can opt to keep only compressed files that will still look good in print but take up less space.

The killer feature here, though, is the deep intelligence in the Google Photos system.

In his brief time onstage Thursday morning at I/O, Anil Sabharwal, Google’s director of Photos, demoed finding photos of his recently graduated (from preschool) daughter, all the way back to her birth. The service is able to track specific people in your photos as far back as you have images of them. That’s pretty amazing.

Sharing is not only limited to Google's own systems.

Sharing is not limited to Google’s own systems.

Google Photos will organize your files so you can find objects, people, locations and more when you need to. No more scrolling down massive lists of thumbnails trying to find that one photo you remember taking last year.

Google Photos also goes a quite a bit beyond Apple’s offering with its automatic editing features, letting you tap and drag across several photos at once, then creating a movie, collage or animated GIF in seconds.

Ultimately, Google Photos sounds like a fantastic leap forward in organizing, storing and sharing the important images and videos we all capture on a daily basis. Here’s hoping that these will also stay private and only available to us and trusted friends.