For years Google welcomed iOS and Android users to its Photos app promising free, unlimited back-ups at good – if not original – quality. That comes to an end on Tuesday June 1.
Everything Google account holders have already backed up is safe and protected, but all new uploads will count against Google One storage. The company gives everyone 15GB for free, but that encapsulates Gmail, Google Drive and other cloud platforms run by the search and mobile giant.
That’s gonna be used up pretty quickly, if it hasn’t been already. From there, 100GB of storage starts at £1.59/month or £15.99/year. It ranges up to 2TB for £7.99 a month, or £79.99 a year with family sharing available.
Google’s decision came as a bit of a blindside for users who’d opted for the app due to the promise of free, unlimited backups. Last November the company shifted the goalposts, saying it “allows us to keep pace with the growing demand for storage.”
Google acknowledged the change might come as a surprise to many and is making suggestions to help users optimise their free storage. For example, it is suggesting users delete screenshots and blurred photos they may not wish to keep.
The decision has left many Google Photos users in a bind. Do they stick with the free storage and great features they’ve come to love? Or do they have and pay a bit more a year to expand the offering? Or do they switch everything to a free service? Microsoft gives 365 members 1TB of free storage, for example.
Analysis – Google shifted the goalposts
This decision will hit Google Photos users in the pocket, or will inconvenience them. It still feels like a bad faith move from Google even after having eight months notice. The company has benefitted hugely from access to billions of photos from Google Photos users, in terms of its image recognition and machine learning capabilities. A cynic may wonder whether this was the plan all along, once the company had gleaned all it could.
Google Photos is a great service, but it brought people into the fold by praying on users who were fed up with having to optimise on-device storage. In fact, its advertising criticised the iPhone for this in particular. It’s poor form and it feels unnecessary.