It's hard to imagine anyone using anything else than Google Photos as their photo storage solution. Sure, having your photographs in the cloud entails some privacy concerns, but looking solely at efficiency, Google Photos arguably usurps any photo backup tool out there.

Yes, it has beefy machine learning know-how, among other things. But quite possibly the most useful feature the app offers is the ability to sync all your photos to the cloud automatically and share them with anyone. When you take photos, Google pushes them immediately up the cloud, and before you know it, all your photos are synced, allowing you to free up some space on your device. You may also promptly give out links for people to view them on the cloud: easy-peasy.

Well, Google Photos is going to become even better thanks to a slew of updates that'll add new features to the cloud-based service, with a particular focus on sharing.

New Ways To Share Photos

Thanks to a new feature called Suggested Sharing, Google Photos can now recognize who's in a particular shot and advise you to share that photo with that person. Shortly after taking a photo, a notification will pop up, listing the names of people pictured in the shot, at which point Google will ask if you want to share it with them.

There's also a new feature called Shared Libraries, which will allow you to share your entire library or a portion of it with a specific person, be it your partner or best friend. You can even set this up in a way where the app will only share photos containing a particular person. For example, if you prefer, you can have photos of your children automatically shared with your mother and spouse. The configurations are endless, as you can imagine.

Photo Books

In an era of smartphones, physical albums appear far and few in between, but they do offer something more tactile than a bunch of ones and zeros on a digital device. Luckily, Google can make those albums for you if you want, thanks to a new feature called Photo Books.

With it, the app will identify your best photos and offer them to you as physical, printed albums. It might also stitch up a photo album after you've taken a vacation, attended a wedding, celebrated your kid's birthday party, and more.

Google offers 7-inch and 9-inch hardcover albums, which will contain 40 photos as determined by the app. On the cheaper side, there's also a softcover option that'll run you around $10. Hardcovers are double the price. For additional pages, you'll have to pay up $0.35 for softcover albums and $0.65 for hardcovers.

Photo Books will become available on iOS and Android next week but is available now via the desktop web app.

Google Photos

During its I/O developer conference, which kicked off May 17, Google announced that its Photos app has amassed over 500 million users, claiming that these people back up 1.2 billion photos and videos daily.

Google says that Photos will eventually make the camera roll useless. Arguably, it's exactly right on the money. Photos is quite possibly the most powerful photo tool among the roster of stock photo management apps found on any smartphone. That honor is thanks to its cutting-edge features such as facial recognition, object recognition, machine learning, and cloud syncing and storage. Add to that a wealth of sharing options, and you've got the quintessential photo management app.

Google wants Photos to be a guide in the most important images in your life.

"You don't think about your life as a reverse chronological set of photos in order," says James Gallagher, a Google Photos engineering director. "You think about moments — this is when I started a job, or this is when I got married. That's what we want our product to be — how we live our lives in photos."

Should You Ditch iOS Photos For Google Photos? Probably

Google Photos offers a solid sales pitch: you get free unlimited cloud storage for photos, a smart photo assistant that can make animations or movies, a trove of options for sharing photos more easily than ever before, and a sense of peace, knowing all your photos is backed up to the cloud. If these don't convince you to ditch iOS Photos and switch over to Google Photos, then it's difficult to imagine what will.

Google Photos is available as free download on iOS and Android.

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