Friday 13 November 2020

Bye-bye Google Photos

If you've been paying attention to the tech news over the last couple of days, then you would have noticed an alarming post that Google has decided to end it's free unlimited storage of photos.

This is a service that I've been recommending without even thinking twice over the last four or five years. I myself upload every single photo to Google photos and all of a sudden it forces a rethink of what I use to store and back up my photos.

Prior to online storage, an external hard drive was necessary (and multiples of these because physical drives tend to fail) but since Google Photos, the convenience, security, and the ability to access it from anywhere has become invaluable. For Android it's a no-brainer, but I have also long recommended to iOS users to use Google photos because of Apple's measly 5 GB of iCloud storage. From June 2021, however, Google is following in their footsteps - yes you will get 15 GB instead of 5GB before you have to start paying, but it's still a big blow.

What frustrates me is that the relationship between end-user and Google has been symbiotic. Users were given the opportunity to store an unlimited amount of photos and files in the cloud, but Google also used this data to improve their AI significantly. All these photos uploaded had to have been used to improve their facial recognition algorithm. Google itself will obviously deny this. But I'm sure most of you will join me in being skeptical!

They have gotten what they need from us - their facial recognition AI is pretty amazing. They don't need our data anymore - so now they start charging for a service that was previously free. And the worst thing is: we're hooked. We're invested and the hassle of trying to find an alternative solution will probably mean that most people will just pony up (if they can afford it).

My question is this: are you going to make the most of the last few free months, or are you immediately going to look for an alternative solution? 

Google does offer a tool that will help you estimate how much time you have left before your storage runs out (my initial estimate is 10 months). I have started scratching my head and will need to figure this out!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


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