Google Photos is one of the few apps that has zero competition in both Android and iOS markets. From its free unlimited storage plan to the advanced AI-based image grouping and sorting with machine learning capabilities, everything about Photos is unchallenged.
No other app, to this day, offers unlimited storage for video and photos for free and the same goes for polished grouping and sorting. Even Apple's Photos app does not come close to Google in terms of image processing and accumulating.
That is why, iPhone users, despite being known for their brand loyalty, often favour Google Photos app over Apple's native Photos app.
Google Photos has grown so popular that every week, 28 billion new photos and videos are being uploaded to the platform by both, Android and iOS users. However, this is about to change as of June 1, 2021 and Android users and enthusiasts, in general, are bummed about it.
According to Google's announcement in November 2020, the free unlimited storage on the Photos app will be discontinued from June 1 this year.
Even though everyone is busy looking for a free or cheaper alternative to Google Photos, only to be disappointed as nothing of the sort exists, there is still time to take advantage of Google's unlimited free storage plan.
Here are five things you can do to make the best use of Google Photos before the free unlimited storage ends in June:
Backup your family albums, event photos and videos free of charge forever
If you have old photo albums, VCR, and CD recordings of family events, this is the perfect time to back them up. Anything you backup on Google Photos before the free unlimited storage ends will not count against the allotted 15GB of cloud storage offered to each Google account.
However, the backups are only free if you choose the "high quality" option in Photos' backup settings, which comes with in-built compression to minimise storage occupancy. Despite the compression, the photos and videos backed up are usable in most situations, including printing, social media sharing, and whatnot.
Apart from the free storage space, Google Photos offers grouping based on faces, locations, objects, scenarios, and lighting. Google's AI and machine learning-powered grouping and sorting is one of the reasons why people have loved the platform since its launch in 2015.
With its help, users can search photos and videos with somewhat vague details like - group photo on a beach, nightlife in Dhaka, cats wearing a hat, and more. Using the overabundance of data Google acquired by letting people host images for free to improve their machine learning, Photos will pull up all the pictures and videos matching the search query's description.
So, before June 1, make sure to scan your family photos and back them up on Google Photos forever.
You can use Photoscan by Google to scan old photos if you do not own an actual scanner. Under perfect lighting conditions that involve no glares and shadows, this app works surprisingly well.
Backup your audio files on Google Photos
Even though no audio files can be uploaded to Google Photos for safekeeping, Android users and enthusiasts found a way to do so.
If you are someone who records and stores logs or songs as audio files, converting them to video format will allow you to back them up on Google Photos for free.
There are plenty of free audio-to-video converters for Android, iOS, Windows, and Linux-based machines. With these you can convert an audio file in a matter of seconds. Once you convert them, upload the files on Google Photos and Google will allow them to be backed up since, to its knowledge, you are just uploading video files.
When you need the audio files next time, just download the video file from Photos and use the same free conversion tools to extract the audio.
Scan documents and certificates to keep them safe and accessible
Documents and certificates on paper are perishable. But scanning and storing them as images ensures their survival for years to come and there is no better tool to do it than Google Photos.
As mentioned earlier, the Photos platform is very efficient in sorting and searching images, thus, finding an important document whenever needed will not be an issue. Moreover, since Google Lens's integration with Photos, its searching and organising capabilities have exceeded all expectations. Thanks to Lens, users can now extract text from an old roughed-up document uploaded on Photos and copy the text in a plain text form.
This particular feature is very handy since it allows critical data extraction from old and sensitive documents in seconds, not to mention you can pull the documents up anywhere and anytime.
Disable auto-backup on your devices to avoid running out of storage
Since there was no limit with "high quality" backup option on Google Photos, android users generally kept the auto backup turned on for their devices.
However, from June 1 onwards, everything uploaded on Google Photos will count against the allotted 15GB quota, be it in high quality or original. That means keeping auto backup turned on will continue to back up unnecessary files from your phone, occupying the limited storage, disrupting more important Google services like Gmail.
All Google services, including Gmail and Drive, use the same 15GB storage and if that storage is occupied by unnecessary photos or videos on Google Photos, you will not receive any emails.
To make sure important emails get through to your inbox, Google suggests turning auto backup off or upgrading to one of their paid plans, starting with 100GB of storage across all Google services.
Do a quick Drive and Gmail sweep to free up as much space as you can
Emails, their attachments and temporarily uploaded files on Google Drive occupy most of the storage on Google accounts. You will always have space for new photos to be backed up on Google Photos if you keep your files organised and clean the unnecessary emails and files every now and then.
So, do a quick sweep before June 1 and after that, find a few minutes every month to organise your inbox and drive. Besides freeing up storage, this habit of sorting, archiving, deleting emails will positively affect your productivity and workflow in the office.
After deleting the unwanted files and emails, make sure to clean the "trash" on Gmail and Drive. Otherwise, the deleted items will keep occupying the same amount of storage for the next 30 days.
If these seem like a lot of work, you can always upgrade to Google One paid plan that starts with Tk150 per month or Tk1,600 per year for 100GB of storage, upgradeable up to 30TB for Tk12,100 per month. With Google One subscription, you can also unlock advanced photo and video editing tools on Google Photos along with the essential crop-trim tools that come with Photos for free.
The writer is a student of the Mathematics Department of University of Chittagong.