Google Photos

I've always known where my pictures are. For years now they've been sitting in a small box in my living room, on an aging Linux-based NAS box. (This one, if you're curious.) And I kinda loved that thing, insofar as one can have feelings for a NAS. It doesn't look half bad tucked in my entertainment system cabinet. And it did its job well, giving me an easy place to stash backups.

And I generally kept things tidy in there. Pictures went in a picture folder. And folders of events went inside that. I never got around to organizing things by dates because so much of what I've shot of the family the past few years has been on phones. I'd pull out the "real" camera for Christmas and the kids' birthdays, maybe, but that was it. Rarely would I go diving through those folders.

Uploading that entire volume to Google Photos changed everything. I no longer have that same file structure, but I now have all those pictures right in front of me.

What is it we hate about clicking, then?

It's a pretty simple physical movement, of course. Take finger. Tap. Done. But there's a much bigger mental hurdle here. Going through folder after folder — and then going back — is work for some reason. I'm guilty of it with folders. I'm less guilt of it when it comes to reading stories online, but we get the same reaction all the time from folks who find it sooooooo hard to click through a nicely sectioned review or slideshow. (I get the argument even though I disagree with it.) When did clicking become that hard?

Maybe it's a trackpad thing. I've never really enjoyed using them, despite having been on a Mac for a few years now, and they've got the best trackpads I've ever used.

But whatever the reason, I'm now flipping through Google Photos a lot. And while I miss the idea of a folder structure — which I could have replicated with albums if I'd really wanted to — Google's organization by date or face or place or thing is surprisingly good. And search is just plain fun. (Thus the title of our latest podcast.)

A few other thoughts on Google Photos:

  • Andrew's doing a great job breaking down all the features in Google Photos.
  • I'm not at all concerned about uploading my photos to Google anymore than I am giving them to anyone else. Google has too much to lose by doing something stupid with your information — especially maliciously.
  • And the rhetoric from the Apple camp is just silly. Sad, actually, and borderline conspiratorial. And the "Google's using your data to sell you" line is lazy, tired and without teeth.
  • I really want the ability to mark specific photos and videos as "private," needing an extra password if you want them to show in the results. It's just too easy for NSFW pics and videos to peek through.
  • I'm done uploading old media, I think, and not getting new Creations of old pictures makes me a little sad.
  • Breaking Photos away from Google+ was a good thing, but I'm a little surprised you can't tag someone at first when you're sharing an image to Google+. It works just fine for sharing to Facebook.
  • Use the search function. A lot. Can't stress that enough. (And it's the easiest way to get to all of your Creations; just scroll down.)

That's it for this week. Be sure to tune into iMore's coverage of WWDC on Monday.