Everyone at The Verge thinks I'm crazy for continuing to buy phones with only 16GB of storage, but the trick to living on a tiny hard drive is expeditiously backing up and removing the many gigs of photos that quickly fill it all up. Google Photos is a huge help in doing that — it automatically backs up every photo you take, with no storage limit — and now it's starting to help get rid of photos once they're backed up, too.
You need to get those photos off your phone
After an update to Google Photos on Android today, a new button will appear in its settings tab offering to help "Free Up Space." Tapping it will delete all local photos that have already been backed up by the app. A similar option has appeared in the past for people who back up photos at full resolution, but Google is now building it into the settings menu for everyone to use. On some Android phones, Google Photos will also be able to delete copies stored on SD cards. With Photos being the default Android gallery app for many, this update really should make it easier to start clearing up space. The feature is coming "soon" to iOS.
Google is also rolling out an update to Google Photos on the web that's about saving space. Starting tomorrow, it'll allow anyone who's been backing up their photos at their full resolution — which takes up Google Drive storage, unlike photos that have been compressed by Google — to downgrade all of their images so that they don't take up space. That sounds like a terrible thing to do, but it's not such a bad idea if you're only backing up smartphone photos, which usually aren't that big in the first place.
Verge Video: How Google solved our photo backup nightmare