What you need to know:
- Google Photos is more of an android photo gallery app for smartphones but it offers a lot more than the cloud storage option.
- According to Google, the change is driven by the growing demand for storage.
After years of offering free unlimited storage for high definition (HD) photos and videos, Google will now start charging users for storage above the 15 GB allocated to each account.
Starting June 1, 2021 Google Photos will require users to subscribe to a storage plan in order to back up photos and videos if they have exceeded their free quota.
Google Photos is more of an android photo gallery app for smartphones but it offers a lot more than the cloud storage option.
One of it’s best features is the Memories. Using AI, Google Photos allows users to revisit their most important memories from years past.
With the feature, the app is able to automatically compile the best pictures of a user and their closest friends and family over the years, trips, and even just the highlights from the week.
The App makes this possible by tapping into the library of backed up photos and videos from ‘back in history.’
As of June 2020, Google reported that more than 120 million were using Memories every month.
The other great feature about Google Photos is the search function. Again, using AI, the app is able to group photos based on objects like an individual’s face, places or things. This allows users to get a broader perspective on their photos.
Growing demand for storage
With the App, users can free up the storage in their smartphones thanks to the cloud storage. It also means that users can access their photos anywhere, on any device with a simple login.
Other features include an embedded editing suite to spice up photos and videos, Google Lens integration to ‘search the hard-to-describe and get stuff done, right from a photo’ and clever automatic creations from photos and videos among other features.
In November 2020, Google announced that it would be updating Google Photos’ storage policy culminating to the changes taking effect June 1st 2021.
''Starting June 1, 2021, any new photos and videos you upload will count toward the free 15 GB of storage that comes with every Google Account or the additional storage you’ve purchased as a Google One member,'' said Shimrit Ben-Yair, Google Photos’ Vice President in 2020.
According to Google, the change is driven by the growing demand for storage. In November 2020, the tech giant reported that more than 4 trillion photos are stored in Google Photos, and every week, 28 billion new photos and videos are uploaded by users.
In June 2020, Shimrit Ben-Yair said more than one billion people use the app each month.
As the policy takes effect, what are your options as a user? Well, there is a 15GB free storage allocated to every account. If you can limit your uploads to this quota, which is highly unlikely, you won’t have to pay extra.
For the heavy user who takes lots of photos and videos, subscribing to the plan offered by Google is an option, especially if they appreciate the extras offered by Google Photos.
Cloud storage options
Plans offered range from Sh200 per month for 100GB of storage to Sh1,000 per month for 2TB of cloud storage.
Other available options? There are various cloud storage options available on the internet but only a few come close to Googles’ offering.
Amazon Photos offers Prime members unlimited, full-resolution photo storage, plus 5 GB of video storage. Non-Prime Amazon users get a total of 5GB of free storage, 10GB less than what Google offers for regular users.
For users with an existing Microsoft 365 subscription, Microsoft OneDrive is a good alternative. One terabyte of storage is available to existing Microsoft 365 members while basic users get 5GB free with options to upgrade the storage for various plans.
For iOS and macOS users, Apple Photos is a good option. Signing up for iCloud automatically gives users 5GB of free cloud storage that can be upgraded to a larger storage plan at different costs based on size and region.
Other honourable mentions include Dropbox and Flickr.
According to Google, photos or videos backed up in HD before June 1, 2021, will not count toward a users’ Google Account storage. They will remain free and exempt from the new storage limit.
A new, free tool is also being added to Google Photos to help users manage their storage quota.