Yesterday Google announced the departure of the head of Google+, their much-maligned social network. ArsTechnica reported that “Google seems to be backing away from the original Google+ strategy. The report states that Google+ will no longer be considered a product that competes with Facebook and Twitter, and that Google’s mission to force Google+ into every product will end.” I think this is good news for Google’s photos and here’s why:
What I currently love about Google photos:
1. Finding the highlights in an album. This wonderful feature takes my 47 photos of Old Faithful erupting and hones it down to 2-3 good shots. In the age of digital photography excess (my motto: why take one photo when you can take five?) it helps to automate the tedious task of sorting through the photos to find the gems.
2. Auto Awesome features. The most amusing ones are the GIFing of similar photos and the falling snow but the most useful one is the auto-tuning of color and lighting which work especially well for portraits.
3. Automatic backup from all my mobile devices. The more photos I take on my phone vs my camera (which I tend not to lug around any more than necessary) the happier I am that they are being automatically backed up.
4. Amazing desktop application (Picasa) with good integration and syncing with online folders. I say amazing because Picasa does a great job managing photos and allows me to edit them with simple, easy to use tools.
What I don’t like about G+ photos is the forced sharing. The “aggressive integration strategy [that] has been universally hated by users” applies to Photos, too. It got to the point where the people I shared albums with couldn’t access them without signing up for a Google+ account which many weren’t even sure how to do.
Theoretically, the concept of Google+ sharing is that you would choose a circle of people with which to share, just in real life. In theory, that is exactly the right model for sharing photos. In practice, most of the people I wanted to share with didn’t want to be part of Google+ and many don’t have Google identities (or even a Gmail address.) As a result, most of them gave up rather quickly and I’ve been driven to share my photos elsewhere, which is a shame. Now that Google may ease up with the G+ integration, I look forward to sharing photos with Google again.