According to a recent report, Google is planning on splitting Google+ Photos from Google+ and making it a service on its own.
The splitting of the services would mean that users would no longer need a Google+ account to save and share photos on Google. Not only that, but Photos would likely have its own website and portal, separate from Google+.
According to Google, 1.5 billion photos are uploaded to Google+ every week, many of which received Google's automatic editing treatment, "Auto Awesome."
The new standalone service will likely be highly integrated with Android, just as Google+ photos is now, and while it will be a service on its own, Google will likely continue to make it easy to share photos to Google+ and other online services.
"Over here in our darkroom, we're always developing new ways for people to snap, share and say cheese," a Google spokesperson said in a statement.
It seems as though this is Google's attempt at competing with other online photo services such as Flickr, and this may be another sign that Google is planning to break down Google+. While Google+ has enjoyed moderate success, it certainly hasn't been as big as Google was hoping for, and we saw little mention of the social networking platform at Google I/O earlier this year.
This isn't the first service Google has separated from Google+, with users now being able to use Google Hangouts without a Google+ account.
It isn't really all that surprising that Google is planning to spin off Photos from Google+. Photos has always been one of Google+'s strongest features, and was one of the first services to offer automatic backup of photos and videos from a users mobile phone. Last year a number of improvements were added to the services, including better organization and ways to create GIFs from photos.
It seems as though a number of multifeatured services are creating standalone apps for their features. Facebook is planning on requiring users to download a separate messaging app in order to use its messaging service on a mobile phone.
Google+ was launched in 2011, and while it has not overtaken services like Facebook, it does offer a number of unique and interesting features, such as Google+ photos. Google+ now has around 500 million active users, however reports suggest that only half of those users regularly use the social media platform. A number of users have created an account simply to use other Google+ services.
Google recently lost one of its key employees involved in the development of Google+, Vic Gundotra. Before leaving Google+, Gundotra used Google+ Photos to attract more users to the platform.