May 29, 2015

Everything Wrong With Google Photos

Google Photos just launched and although it has great features like being its own standalone product, unlimited storage, and automagical search, I find it lacking major features that you'd expect in a photo management platform. That annoyed me enough to make me write my first post in 2.5 years!

So here we go, everything that I think is wrong with Google Photos:

1. Albums are second class citizens
Google prefers to give the task of sorting out your life's worth of photos almost completely to artificial intelligence, and you have no say in it.

While Google's AI is smart enough to detect people, things, & locations in photos it will always be missing the context. While it's very smart to get photos of my dogs if I search for "dog", it completely fails to allow me to search for a one specific dog, not to mention if I'm actually looking for that dog's 7th birthday party. How would Google know that?

Albums are very important but they just don't see it that way. Album management is stripped down to the point where they could've just got rid of it altogether. If you like managing photos in albums, you're in for a bad time. There's more about albums below.

2. Can't tag people in photos
I don't know about you, but for a photo management platform I think I'd like to tag people so I can easily search for them later. Speaking of searching, searching by people's name returns either incomplete results & sometimes nothing at all. It's also unclear how they'd associate people's names without tagging.

3. Albums are world accessible by default
This is huge, most of your private albums (and all of the newly created ones) are world accessible...for people who have the link. This is done so you can share your photos with your friends with a link, but instead of that permission being granted when you generate the sharing link, it's there by default and the only way to change that is by using Picasa Web Albums!

Sure, the ability for anyone to guess that link is highly unlikely, but the idea of having all your private photos protected only by links is just absurd.

4. No way to fix the date of photos
This is a smart system right? It can easily detect when that photo was taken without your help right? Wrong. Let's say you're scanning your childhood photos, those photos are taken tens of years ago and not the day you scanned them. What if the camera's date and time were wrong? Even editing a photo messes up its time stamp.

5. No way to add description or metadata to an album
You're only allowed to name your albums. That's it. I really like adding more info about my albums like locations, dates (already mentioned in point 4. how the system fails in managing that correctly), and notes. I find myself going to Google Plus and creating an Event so I can store those details.

6. Can't tell if a photo is in an album
This one probably annoys me the most. I'd like to go to my "Auto Backed Up" photos and move them into albums. First of all you can no longer know what was auto backed up in the first place like you did in G+ Photos. Second, the idea of albums as folders is gone & replaced by labels. This is not a bad thing at all except that those labels are not visible to the user! So you can't really tell if a photo is in an album (or many) nor if it's not categorized by you at all.

7. Shared G+ event photos no longer appear in the album
Google Plus Events has an awesome feature that allows everyone in an event to upload their photos which creates a shared G+ Photos album for all the event's attendees. This is just great, except that photos uploaded by others no longer appear in that album in Google Photos.

8. Can't tell which photos are actually using storage space
If you select unlimited storage as your upload option, any photo with resolution higher than 16MP is scaled down to that, easy. But, if you're uploading in full size, you have no clue which photos are using free storage and which ones are using your storage quota. There's also no option to scale down a certain photo so it won't use storage quota anymore.

9. Picasa, G+ Photos, & Google Photos coexist
Google Photos is the 3rd iteration of a photo solution by Google and you can still use any of those different renditions to manage your photos! I'm not really complaining here, as Google Photos lacks so much album management features, I find myself going to Picasa and even G+ to do certain tasks.