How Best to Organize a Lifetime of Photos 4 – the cloud storage winner is?
I’ve blogged on this topic previously (here is Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) and this is Part 4 of the series, there will be further parts too on my usage tips. After using for a couple of months the two free photos cloud storage and management service- Shoebox and Google Photos, I’d like to give an assessment of the two and hand down my verdict here. And the winner is ….
Google Photos! But I’m definitely not saying that the Shoebox app is not good, it is good and fun to use, it’s just that Google Photos is better. If you have been using Shoebox only and enjoying it, there seems not much reason to change/swap, but you may be tempted to use Google Photos too after reading my assessment. I use them both, so easy :-). Here’re what I love Both of these for:-
- free- up to respectable resolutions which are adequate for general use/display on home screens (10.6 Megapixels for Shoebox – that’s 3264 pixels on the long side; and 16 Megapixels for Google Photos per photo). If you want original resolutions to be stored there, simply upgrade at a small fee or use your Google storage space.
- both do all the organising for you once after your simple setup, drawing photos from all your devices and making them available to ALL your devices – desktop PC, Android phones, iPhones, iPads, etc. wherever and whenever you want them (internet connection needed)
- will amaze and amuse you (more on this below)
- capable of handy searches by location, date, etc
First on the runner up, here’s what I love Shoebox for (in addition to the above):-
- it emails you everyday and show you pics “This Day in History” – that may be 4, 8, 10 or ? years ago depending on what’re available in your uploaded master photo library. This is fun as you can relive your memories, you’d be surprised to see long forgotten trips/places or people, you can also then proceed further to search other photos around those dates, etc. or refine your searches. I often start from what Shoebox initiated to show me, and then I drilled further to refine my searches to home into those I specifically want to locate via Google Photos.
- you are prompted when you search – when (date, season, day of week) and where (at or near; name of cities, counties, countries) you want to browse your memorable photos. You’d be amazed at the many places you’ve been but you may have forgotten their names, … (that’s if you geotag your photos)
Now on the winner – Google Photos which in addition to the general goodies both share, it won mainly with it’s leader-of-the-world artificial intelligence (AI) searching power
- Google’s AI is really something- it can distinguish and group your photos together for easy searching based on places even you did not geotag your photos, and for peoples even you have not named or group them in the slightest way yourself! that’s amazing…
- this is how they do it for places – they have a huge database of famous landmarks photos – Big Ben, Eiffel, Nortre Dame, Corcovado, Iguazu Falls, Valley of Temples in Agrigento, Burj Khalifa, etc and the engine detects if your photos have these background and then placed them in each location group
- for grouping people, the engine just recognize faces without need of knowing their names, and put all like faces into groups; and it is amazingly accurate! You have to try to believe it.
- you can search any dates (or range of dates), places, objects – e.g. cat, boat, mountain, fountain, flower, sea, snow, …… It can also handle conceptual searches like beautiful, love, laughing, romantic,….. Try them and be amazed at what you get, sometimes the results are disturbingly shrewd.
- Just click “Search” in Google Photos and you’d be presented with the first level of suggested “People”, “Places” and “Things”, click “More” or input your search phrase, and you’d start to get more amazed at what you’d be presented with.
Don’t take my word for it, try it out for free. See my Part 3 on the basics and how to get it. Note that people recognition is not available in Hong Kong or in fact many places now apart from USA. But I’d show you how to get it outside US in my Part 5 of the series- stay tuned.
Now just one stern caution, these cloud storage apps/engines are indiscriminate in extracting every single photo from your specified/set library and devices (mobile, iPad), etc and upload all to their cloud for storage and subsequent search and retrieval. So if there is any photo you don’t want your spouse to see (if you share with him/her the same account) or others (that you have specifically share/allow them with whatever access) to see, then you MUST delete them first (or don’t share)! This is serious and don’t blame me if you cannot answer to your wife who that beautiful lady was beside you! I was stunted when I started seeing unfamiliar faces that were recognised and grouped by Google Photos – they turn out to be my wife’s friends! But a major part of the fun of using these cloud storage photo organising apps is super-ease in sharing your photos with others (which can be fine tuned to each particular photo and each particular friend you want to share with)!