Google Photos now uploads your pics over cellular, but don't freak out

Google has announced that it is making low-quality previews of photos available to users right after they take them, so they can start sharing through Google Photos without having to wait for a Wi-Fi connection.

The company announced the update to Google Photos alongside a number of other bandwidth-saving measures aimed at reassuring its very important, and growing, Brazilian user base that it is taking their suggestions seriously.

Today we're rolling out two new features on Android and iOS to make backup and sharing easier on low connectivity. Now your photos will back up automatically in a lightweight preview quality that's fast on 2G connections and still looks great on a smartphone. And when a good Wi-Fi connection becomes available, your backed up photos will be replaced with high-quality versions.We're also making it easier to share many photos at once even on low connectivity. Never mind if you're at the beach or hiking in the mountains, with Google Photos you can now share pictures quickly even with a spotty connection by sending first in low resolution so friends and family can view them right away. They'll later update in higher resolution when connectivity permits.

The company isn't saying at what quality the preview images will be uploaded, and of course the feature can be disabled, but it's an interesting move for a company always interested in finding a balance between persistent online presence and bandwidth preservation.

It's also interesting that a photo can now be in one of three stages within Google Photos: low quality, uploaded over cellular; "high" quality, which is what Google calls its unlimited storage tier (around 12MP max); and original quality, which does not change anything about the initial photo.

The update will be rolling out to Android and iOS in the coming days, so stay tuned.

Daniel Bader

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

  • Google photo apps needs the basic ability to draw on pictures.
  • so you can draw glasses and mustaches on the people in the photos then send them out? LOL
  • Possibly, but more importantly circle the information to them in a picture that I want them to see. I can do it on google Keep but not on photos...
  • Everybody is getting unlimited data now, so no big deal about how much data it uses.
  • Not everyone, and certainly not the case for most people outside of the US (which is why the article mentions Google's response to one of such regions (Brazil).
  • I have only a small amount of data on my phone plan, so hope that they let you turn this off or I will be going back to a gallery app for my photos.
  • As long as they don't end up with a crap ton of duplicates, I'm good.
  • Why would there be duplicates?
  • A lot of us had quite a few months with duplicate issues from Google Photos about a year ago (you can read all about it in the Forums :) ). It so happens that the issues coincided with the rollout of Auto Awesome (and no, we're not counting the Auto Awesome shot as a duplicate, we had actual duplicates, even of pictures that weren't auto-filtered). Here you're talking about an original picture in your phone, a low-quality rough version that's supposed to be temporary and a backed-up version (which can still be in 'optimized' quality or full size).
  • I'm good, I have unlimited t-mobile data.
  • Why is this news? Google Photos has always updated immediately for me whether or not I'm on wifi.
  • That's an option, now it won't be an option. At least if I'm reading this correct.
  • In the past you had either on/off to upload the photo over cellular. Now, you get the option to get a low resolution image over cell and the full image when on Wifi. If you have unlimited data it generally doesn't make much difference to you, unless you are in a area with low reception, in which case full photo upload will kill your battery, since it will take a long time to upload.
  • I just need a way to hide my porn, Google.
  • I know right. I was hoping for the archive feature to come soon just so I can archive all my porn and not have it show up on the main screen lol.