One of the criticisms that reviewers of the Echo Show and Fire Tablet/TV have had is that while the devices were really good for consuming content like Amazon Prime Video or Netflix, they fell down when it came to showcasing your photos (at least when paired against devices that can show your Google Photos library). In fact, some of our very own reviews of the devices have harped on this. And you know what? There are definitely areas where Amazon Photos lags behind Google Photos (and Apple Photos, for that matter), no doubt about it. But I think there are plenty of areas where Amazon Photos just might surprise you. Let me explain why I think you should not only give Amazon Photos a chance, but incorporate it into your photo backup strategy.
Amazon Photos Features
If it's been a while since you've tried Amazon Photos, or if you've never downloaded the app, you might be shocked to see what all it can do, especially compared with an industry-standard like Google Photos. Let's take a quick look at how they stack up on some major features.
|Amazon Photos||Google Photos|
Up to 16MP for photos and 1080p for videos
|Additional storage||100 GB photo/video $19.99/year
1 TB photo/video $59.99/year
Plans available up to 30 TB
|15 GB free via Google One
100 GB $19.99/year
200 GB $29.99/year
Plans available up to 30 TB
|Photo slide shows||Fire TV
Echo Show devices
Nest Hub devices
As you can see from the chart above, Amazon Photos has many of the same features as Google Photos. You are able to create albums, share albums and photos, and backup your photos across devices and platforms. The app does a pretty decent job of automatically categorizing photos by location, type (dog, mountain, car, etc.), and face (though as with other photo services, you'll have to give it some guidance as to who's who). The app comes preinstalled on Fire tablets, Fire TVs, and Echo Show devices, and is pretty intuitive to navigate.
Though others may not agree, I actually find the slideshow options available on the Fire TV and Echo Show devices to work pretty well. You can set "On this day" as the default, or choose another album for the screensaver to scroll through. It does have a bit of trouble with some animations (it will cut off heads/feet in portrait shots, and not rotate images that are not in the proper viewing rotation), but if this really bothers you you can just go into the app and make the necessary corrections (the app features some basic editing tools like justification, filters, level adjustments, stickers, and text).
Amazon offers the ability to order photo prints, posters, and books (and usually at a discount to Prime members), which you can do through the mobile app or through the web portal. Right now, you can get a 20-page 8x8 hardcover photo album for under $20, which is comparable to what Google Photos offers. Unlike Google Photos, however, Amazon Photos will let you order prints for custom cards or metal and acrylic plaques as well.
If you are a Prime member, you can save an unlimited amount of full-resolution photos, and up to 10 GB of videos or other files for free, and you can purchase additional storage space up to 30 TB for prices comparable to Google. That's a lot of photo space! I'm not a professional photographer or even an amateur enthusiast, so the free tier with Prime is good enough for me (and, I suspect, for most people), but it's nice to know you can add more if you need it.
Speaking of backup, once you download the Amazon Photos app to your phone or computer, you can have it automatically sync photos from your main library (be that Google Photos, Apple Photos, or another proprietary app), and not have to worry about it. Personally, I use Google Photos as my main app on Android, Apple Photos on iOS, and Amazon Photos across the board. I really appreciate that data backup redundancy, and know that if one service goes down that I have my photos backed up in at least one other service. Amazon Photos is a great option for this kind of secondary backup, even if you don't use it as your primary photo library.
Amazon Photos Apps
Amazon Photos is cross-platform, and as such, has mobile apps (Android and iOS), desktop apps (macOS and Windows), and a web portal that you can use in just about any browser.
The desktop app (shown here on macOS Catalina) is basically a glorified photo uploader/downloader, and can be set to run in the background to automatically keep your Amazon Photo library in sync with your desktop photos.
The mobile app is about what you'd expect, and it too can be set to automatically backup whatever is on your phone's camera roll/photo library, whether on Android or iOS.
The web app/portal is perhaps the most useful of all three tools when it comes to searching or sorting your photos by people, location, type, or date.
Amazon Photos Pitfalls
As I've mentioned, there are many areas and features where Amazon Photos compares well against Google Photos, but there are still a few significant holes in the platform to make me not want to use it as my primary photo library.
For starters, even though the photo backup is basically unlimited for Prime members, videos cap out at 10 GB unless you pay. Honestly, this isn't that big of a deal since I pay for other data backup services, but it's just ONE more to consider if you want a full backup of all of your memories.
Amazon Photos has some "special" features that, at first glance, appear to be comparable to Google Photos, such as a Memories section that is supposed to automatically create mini videos of events or trips, but I've found this to not be very useful. I've been on Amazon Photos for at least five years, and in that time the app/service has only generated four memory videos for me (granted, they were of significant trips like Iceland, Italy, Boston, and Seattle). But compare that to Google Photos which creates collages, memories, and special effects on a regular basis, or Apple Photos which creates memory videos almost daily, and you can see where this feature isn't fully baked for Amazon.
The biggest drawback for Amazon Photos though would have to be its lack of ubiquity. Google Photos is preinstalled on all Android phones and is still one of the top downloads on iOS, and Apple's Photos app is, of course, the default on iPhones, iPads, and Macs. The simple friction of downloading a second (or third) photos app is enough to make most not want to bother with Amazon Photos. That's a shame, but it reflects reality. Unless you pick up one of the Amazon Prime Exclusive Phones that come with Amazon apps preinstalled, you might inadvertently miss out on this great app/service.
Worth 1,000 Words
Actually, I wrote nearly 1,500 words here just to let know how much I like Amazon Photos and to implore you to give it a fair shake. Even if you never use it as your primary photo service, or if you don't plan on owning or using Fire or Echo devices, it just makes sense to take advantage of this FREE service to backup your precious memories if you're a Prime member. Whether you favor Android, Windows, iOS, or macOS, there is an Amazon Photos app platform for you. So keep snapping and start saving those photos!
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