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Fast Charge: Google One’s latest downgrades make me want to cancel my subscription

OPINION: I’ve been a subscriber to Google One for around three years, and I’ve been happy with the subscription service during that time. I not only got more storage for my photos, videos and other files, but a bunch of other benefits to sweeten the deal. 

The problem? Google is quite rapidly reducing these features and, with them, the general appeal of Google One. In fact, it has now reached the point where I’m considering cancelling my subscription altogether. 

When I first subscribed, the Google One subscription consisted of the core cloud storage upgrade – 200GB, in my case – plus additional extras. These come in various forms, from the less helpful (like sharing my precious storage with friends and family) to considerably more valuable benefits like Google Store discounts, all for the relatively small asking price of £2.49 per month. 

That list of extras included Google VPN, providing secure internet access without a dedicated VPN subscription

Google One VPN
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Google’s VPN is rather basic compared the best VPNs like ExpressVPN and Nord VPN, lacking the ability to select your server location and being able to use it on a variety of devices, instead locked to iPhone, iPad, Windows and Mac, but it was a huge benefit nonetheless.  

I’m not exactly an avid user of VPNs, admittedly out of pure laziness, but it did come in handy on the rare occasion that I’d connect to open, public Wi-Fi.

Well, it seems that I won’t have that option soon, as Google has confirmed it’s winding down its VPN service, citing a lack of interest from consumers, with no replacement in place for Google One subscribers. There’s no word yet on when it’ll cease to exist, but it should be sometime in the next couple of months. 

That would’ve been a big enough Google One pill to swallow, but Google hasn’t stopped there. Nope. In the early hours of Monday morning, I got another email from Google about other changes to Google One that will take effect on 15 May 2024 – under a month from now.

More than the loss of VPN access

And, just my luck, those changes affect the one other key feature of Google One that I use regularly – editing features in the Google Photos app. 

Magic Eraser in Google Photos
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

More specifically, this relates to Magic Eraser, Portrait Light, Colour Focus and Sky editing features. These features, up until now, have been exclusively available for Google Pixel users and Google One subscribers. 

Even if Magic Eraser doesn’t deliver the best results around, it was a handy feature that I’d sometimes use to remove annoying distractions from my snaps. The Sky feature was equally handy for giving my photos a certain look or feel. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see Google opening its previously Pixel- and Google One-exclusive editing features to all users of Google Photos free of charge, but it doesn’t exactly reward long-time Google One subscribers. It feels like a bit of a slap in the face to not offer something else in its place. 

So, by my count, in the past month, Google has removed two of the most tempting reasons to opt for a Google One account instead of other readily available, and cheaper, cloud storage services like Dropbox and OneDrive. 

The only thing keeping me tied to my Google One subscription, for now, is the extended cloud storage for my photos and videos in Google Photos. 

I’ve got 10+ years of photos and videos in Google’s cloud storage, and that’ll be a bit of a headache to download and transfer to another cloud service – even if I do currently get free photo storage in Amazon Photos with my Prime subscription. But, with Google One now offering less value than ever, I’ve never been quite as tempted to make the move as I am right now.

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