If you're spending the holidays with your family — and you should be! — there's a good chance you'll be taking photos together and making new memories. But there's also the chance that someone gets too excited and accidentally drops and breaks their phone, and poof. There go your fun new memories. That's why this holiday season might finally be the time to get your family on board with Google Photos.
Backing up your photos has never been easier. Once you set up Google Photos, it works in the background to automatically upload your shots to the cloud as you take them. The best part is that it's not just limited to Android users; Google Photos is also available on iOS, and its unlimited storage options gives it a big advantage over iCloud.
Setting up Google Photos
Setting up Google Photos is as easy as opening the app and tapping Done during the initial setup prompt. By default, the app will only upload your images over Wi-Fi at a slightly reduced resolution with free unlimited storage, but if you prefer to preserve your memories in their original quality, just jump into the Back Up and Sync settings and adjust the Upload Size. Keep in mind that full-res uploads count against your Google Drive storage.
From the Back Up and Sync settings, you can also allow uploads over cellular data — of course, this can drive your data usage way up, so exercise caution with this setting. The upside is that cellular backups ensure that your photos are stored safely in the cloud almost immediately after you take them. If you're blessed with unlimited data, flip that switch on and shoot away!
Finding your photos later
One of the best parts of Google Photos is its ability to automatically sort your photos by people, places, and even objects in the shot. This is a great way to quickly find that cute picture you took of your dog that you've been dying to show your mom.
At the top of the Albums tab is a horizontally scrolling list of features Google's AI service was able to identify in your photos. Tap People & Pets to find thumbnails of all of your friends and photo subjects, linking to every photo and video you've taken of them. From within an individual person's collection, you can add a name, change the featured photo used in the thumbnail, or remove erroneous results. And if there are any missing results, it's easy to tag them yourself from your gallery.
Similarly, the Places folder utilizes geotagging to sort your photos by cities, counties, or even specific points of interest like universities or malls. The Things category uses the same machine learning as People & Pets to detect objects and scenarios like dogs and cats, skyscrapers, selfies, concerts, etc. Just like with People & Pets, you can remove results, but you might be surprised by the accuracy of the software.
Turning your photos into gifts
On top of cataloging your memories, Google Photos also lets you immortalize them by creating personalized Photo Books. You can choose up to 100 images from your Google Photos library, organize them any way you wish, and customize the cover and spine. The Photo Books are made using high-quality prints, and make for excellent gifts.
Compile your best photos into a stunning gift book.
Phone cameras have gotten pretty amazing these days, so why not put some of your best shots into a book? Google's photo books are great gifts for your friends and family that want physical copies of their favorite photos. Of course, you're not just limited to the photos from your phone; you can upload any images you want to your Google Photos library and add them to your book.
Do the holidays right
Google Photos makes it so easy to back up your pictures that anyone can do it, regardless of their level of experience with a smartphone. This holiday season, take the time to help your mom and other family members set up Google Photos and protect them from losing important shots — after all, lasting memories are the gifts that keep on giving.
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Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.