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BW Businessworld

Google To Users: Give Me Your Photos

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Google just had its annual developer event, Google I/O in Sao Paulo and the company that people should stop calling "the search giant" because it’s so much more, unleashed an avalanche of announcements spanning from driverless cars to the next version of Android to virtual reality in education.
 
But here’s something to be immediately available that affects just about everyone. A revamped home for all your photos and videos.
 
When I first heard that, I cringed. I have hated the Google+ and photos connection. If you don’t watch it, you never know what photo makes its way to a world of friends and strangers. A selfie to see how an outfit looks, a random shot of a messy room to see how a camera works, a candid shot meant for limited consumption.
 
But to my relief, I found Google is de-coupling photos from Google+. What’s more, they’re emphasizing that your photos are for your eyes only, until you share them, which is also supposed to be way easier and a matter of selecting images to be shared and creating a place for them. Anyone you share with can see these, whether they’re Apple users or Android die-hards or still in the Web-only era.
 
Fine then, but there’s more. Google Photos offers to arrange all your images for you. I know that Google has known what images are what for a very long time now. But it’s a twinge uncomfortable to see the capability executed on your own photos. No doubt, it’ll make it much easier to retrieve them, specially with a voice command: “OK Google, show me pictures of my recent trip to Goa” and they’ll come up.
 
Still, many users will appreciate that someone cleaned up the photo mess for them, arranging everything real nice. What this knowledge of the content in those photos will lead to someday, is anybody’s guess. For now, the convenience is compelling.
 
Just as Picassa did a while ago, Google Photos can enhance your photos for you. Frankly, I enjoy enhancing them myself, but users will like this enhanced enhancement just fine. High-res pictures of up to 16 megapixels will store up there without loss of quality – with enhancement, in fact.
 
Of course, old habits die hard and many users of Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, Flickr, and other services where photos are typically stored, will not necessarily shift over to Google Photos – at least not immediately. But even for them, it’ll at least be a second home for photos, specially new ones. If users don’t, these services are very likely to feel the strain of unlimited space for photos and videos. It will be interesting to see just what they do to adapt their business models to this new move from Google.