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Google Photos App Upgrade Includes Collaborative Editing, Chromecast Support And More

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Nowadays, smartphones have transcended the conventional use of what is defined as a phone.

Smartphones double as an entertainment platform for audio and video playback and also function as a handheld computer that lets people browse the web, check emails and pretty much do everything that a connected desktop/laptop can do. Together with these functionalities, smartphones are also relied on capture and record moments in life.

Each day, millions, if not billions, of images and videos are taken and recorded using smartphones. However, with the amount of images and videos taken, it's quite hard to navigate through all of them. Another problem is safe storage. Although keeping digital files is much safer than storing negatives, the disks that hold those precious memories are still physical things that can get lost or broken.

Google Photos

There are a lot of options for backing up data and Google Photos is one of them. The recently-released standalone app, however, offers more than just storage space. It uses facial recognition, face groupings, location history and image association to classify, organize and store images so users can easily search for them.

Of course, there are problems that come with it since it's in the early phase - tagging siblings as one person and the inability to distinguish individual dates when files are uploaded to one group, to name a few - but it is not hard to see the possibilities that it can bring in terms of photo organization.

So how exactly does Google plan to improve the current version of Photos?

According to Android Police's APK teardown of Google Photos v1.5, album collaboration, Google Cast integration and labels are in store.

On the teardown, several strings referred to a feature called "Collaboration." Going further into the code reveals that it will involve shared albums. From this, it is safe to deduce that Google Photos will allow a user to grant permissions to other users to co-manage, edit and view a shared album. And while there are no strings specifying restrictions and filters for the album owner to limit what co-managers can do in a shared album, Google is expected to add permission features similar to what is already implemented in Google Docs.

Strings that started with "people_labeling" were also observed. Granted that this feature is pursued, it should work well with facial recognition and face grouping, and this is currently one of the main reasons why it's easier to manage images on Google Photos.

Another piece of string found, "Cast," is believed to be a part of Photos' integration into Google Cast, which, if true, will allow Photos to be used with Chromecast. Note that this was possible when Photos was still in Google+.

The Price to Pay for Free and Unlimited

Google offers free and unlimited storage using Google Photos. Sure, it compresses the files to make them smaller but the overall image remains relatively the same. But for those who want to keep the image quality, the company offers relatively cheap options.

However, the bigger issue is privacy. It's not a secret that Google records user data and probably knows more than what most people can remember themselves. With Photos, Google will get to know more and, if they want to, profit off it.

"The goal of Google Photos is to start in the foundation of user trust," said a Google representative in an interview with the Verge. "We're asking you to store a lifetime of memories with us."

And while features such as face grouping and geotagging can be turned off, the concept of user data getting sold to the highest bidder just does not sit well with some people. 

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