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Google Photos for iOS is better than on the Pixel 4 – for now

Google Photos has been inadvertently providing iPhone users with an old Pixel perk that Pixel 4 owners won’t be getting – free original quality image backups.

The Google Photos iOS app currently allows users to upload photos in their original quality without taking away from your free Google Drive storage. This feature was available to all Pixel owners up until the new Pixel 4 and Google Pixel 4 XL.

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According to AndroidPolice, Google is currently working on an update to solve the so-called “bug”. The feature isn’t meant to be available to iPhone owners so it makes sense that Google intends to remove it, however, it will be disappointing news for current Google Photos users taking advantage of the hidden feature on their iOS devices. 

The current issue is caused by Google Photos allowing Apple’s HEIC format of compressed images to be backed up without contributing to a user’s Drive quota. 

It seems the error takes place because HEIC is actually smaller than Google’s compressed JPEGs. For this reason, the app doesn’t see any need to compress them and thus does not include them in the storage limit.

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It isn’t yet clear what the fix will be. Google could opt to charge for original quality backups of HEIC going forward. However, we don’t know what this would mean for iPhone images already uploaded in the HEIC format. It’s possible that Google might just choose to compress all of these images further or convert them to its own compressed JPEG format.

The bug was discovered last week following the Pixel 4 launch when a Redditor revealed their experience with the app on the Apple subreddit. However, it has since been taken down until Google decides to comment on the issue.

While Pixel fans may have lost out on the key advantage of original quality backups, there is still a whole lot to like about the smartphone. You can get the full lowdown on Google’s latest handset in our Pixel 4 review.

Our 4/5* review praised the camera, in particular: “Featuring an excellent camera and a completely clean Android 10 install, Google’s Pixel 4 is an excellent phone that matches – if not beats – key competitors in a number of areas. However, it’s battery life is way shorter than most competing handsets.”

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