Google Photos is the best thing to happen to the iPhone in a long time

I am currently using a 64GB iPhone SE and was running out of space. When I say running out, I had 8GB free which feels very low to me because I moved to an SE from a 128GB iPhone 6s. 15GB of space was being used by photos and videos and was by far the biggest memory hog so I considered doing the right thing and trimming down the number of items I carry with me every day. Do I really need +8,000 photos and videos with me? Of course not.

So, the obvious thing to do is to delete the photo albums I do not need and view them when I want to using iCloud. After all, I do pay for extra iCloud space so that has to be possible. No, it isn’t…

Not everyone realises this, but Photos only replicates what you have on your phone and as such you end up with the exact same media in the cloud and on your iOS device. It’s useful for a backup, but does mean that it is a solution that is not exactly flexible.

I decided to call Apple and the very friendly representative offered me one solution, to buy a 128GB iPhone 6s. Yes, she actually offered that as a solution alongside the extra I pay for my iCloud space. Money upon money upon money. At times it does feel as though Apple is bringing all of its services together to not only increase usefulness, but to create tools that cause you to spend more on one product to use another properly and so the spiral continues.

I get that the backup process is seamless and that there are many advantages to the way the most important tasks works over Apple devices; text messages on the Mac, photos on all devices etc, but the fact that a standard place in the cloud is still missing to store files on bugs me. iCloud Drive is, well, not really anything and the over-reliance on automating what we do has gone a little too far here. I like that iOS and Mac products hide what is happening in the background, but the price for that is that you lose a lot of control for certain tasks such as dealing with photos.

So I tried Google Photos after seeing the ‘very’ clever advert and was immediately impressed. It took a few days for everything to move over, but the creative side of the system is impressive and on a par with what Apple is offering in iOS 10. You are delete photos on the iPhone, indeed you are encouraged to by an obvious option, and still access your entire library through the cloud, a faster cloud than Apple’s. The images are limited in quality, but it is good enough and you can pay to upload them in better quality. The fact that you have a choice in both where you store your photos and if you want to spend any money is great and privacy concerns aside, I am fairly happy with how it works. Happy to the point that the Google Photos icon has replaced the Apple Photos icon on my main home screen.

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