Another dot in the blogosphere?

Google Photos greats and gaffes

Posted on: June 2, 2015

Are you crazy?

That would have been my reaction if someone told me several years ago that my iPhone photos could be put online automatically, be organized, be searchable by theme, and I could have this all for free.

Video source

But today we have Google Photos. Anything a smartphone can capture, photos up to 16 megapixels and videos of up to 1080p resolution, can be sent to Google’s cloud storage without using up your storage quota.

One reason why Google Photos has appeal is that it meets human needs by doing the mundane and heavy lifting. Any photos you take can be uploaded, categorized, and archived automatically.

Once there you can edit, share, and manage them across different devices. You can share them with other people too.

Google Photos may not create new needs, but it addresses existing ones extremely well.

I decided to try the Search tool as I had read that it was good in some ways and not in others. I tried the suggested tag “Cars” because the thumbnail featured my MacBook Air instead of a vehicle.

This is a partial view of the “Cars” search.

The top two photos were spot on. The fact that the first was a thumbnail from a time-lapse video I took in London that featured just the roof of a cab was impressive.

The bottom left shot was of a drawing that my son did in 2008. Google’s algorithms could figure out a child’s drawing of a car.

The algorithms also identified Dr Who‘s Tardis (a screen capture of one of my presentations) and my laptop as cars. The fictional time-travelling device and my computer certainly take us to wonderful places, but calling them “Cars” is a bit of a stretch.

But the algorithms and machine learning can only get better and that is how Google stands to gain by making this platform open and free.

For people to participate in such a global experiment takes trust. Trust that Google will not misuse our photos. Others might point out that we are trading some privacy for convenience. All this means is there is change.

For change to happen, there must be awareness, buy in, and commitment (ABCs of change).

  • Awareness: We know of Google Photos and what it might do
  • Buy in: We believe Google’s privacy policies or are willing to trade some privacy for convenience
  • Commitment: We use the platform and in the process help both Google and ourselves
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