First Click: Put your trust (and photos) in Google

May 29th, 2015


Your reaction to the Google I/O announcement of free, unlimited storage for Google Photo says a lot about your trust in the company. Was it:

“Free is awesome, Google is awesome!”


“Why would they do that? Sounds suspicious.”

These responses get back to the old argument that you're the product if the service is free. If you’re paying $99 per year for 1TB of DropBox storage then the company’s motivations are clear. If it’s free, then, well, how does the company make money?

Trust is incredibly important when it comes to photos. With the rise of smartphones, photography has extended way beyond kids, sunsets, and puppies. It’s now common to photograph receipts, passports, credit cards, and all kinds of legal documents as a means of record keeping. We still photograph our kids in the tub, only now they’re stored with geotags.

With that in mind, read this excerpt from the announcement of Google Photos:

“Google Photos automatically organizes your memories by the people, places, and things that matter. You don’t have to tag or label any of them, and you don’t need to laboriously create albums.”

In other words, Google automatically scans every photo and uses its powerful neural network to assign metadata.

If you trust Google then this is welcoming news — it makes life easier and saves time, not just in the Photos app but in services like Now (and Now on Tap). If you don’t trust Google then it’s just another case of the “don’t be evil” company exploiting you for advertising profit.

For people on the fence, free unlimited photo storage is hard to ignore. And the fact that Photos is also a great photo manager is a powerful motivator to jump into Google’s binary embrace.

My own photo collection is just that: a collection of hard drives filled with proprietary databases from all the photo apps I’ve used over the years. All in all I’d estimate about 200GB of photos (including digitally scanned film) that I've been meaning to centralize and tag forever — and this makes it so damn easy. I'm very tempted by Google Photos but still haven’t made a decision.

Have you?

Five stories to start your day

  1. Bring back the Nexus 5

    We all saw it. Even those of us that never experienced the greatness of the Nexus 5 felt an inexplicable pang of wistfulness when its bumpy bottom made a cameo during Google's I/O 2015 keynote today. Yes, the phone serving as the backdrop for Google's announcement of USB-C support in Android M was none other than the 2013 flagship Android handset, the LG-manufactured Nexus 5.

  2. Popular Chrome extension Hola sold users' bandwidth for botnets

    It seems the company has been discreetly selling users' "idle resources" (i.e. their bandwidth) via a separate Luminati brand, allowing anyone to buy traffic in bulk and redirect it to a target site as a denial-of-service attack. Essentially, Hola's users have been unwitting mercenaries in a botnet-for-hire

  3. Bob Saget will return as Danny Tanner for Full House reboot

    The Full House reboot is filling out. This week, John Stamos took to Twitter to announce that Bob Saget has joined the cast of the upcoming series Fuller House, which is due to air on Netflix in 2016. Saget will reprise his role as Danny Tanner, the show's eternally optimistic patriarch, morning TV host, and moral compass.

  4. Watch Kung Fury, 2015's greatest '80s action movie, right now

    Kung Fury might be the greatest '80s action movie the '80s never produced. The Kickstarted movie, which premiered at Cannes this month, features smoky alleyways, a city ravaged by murderous arcade cabinets, a cop with the head of a Triceratops, and a huge number of neatly trimmed mustaches.

  5. Good news everyone! We can finally add hurdling to the Scary Robot Olympics

    MIT's Cheetah robot has already beaten the speed record set by Usain Bolt (the world's fastest man) and now it's coming after Aries Merritt (the world's fastest hurdler, of course). Researchers at the university's Biometrics Robotics Lab have upgraded Cheetah with new algorithms that allow it to detect and jump over obstacles up to 40 centimeters tall — the first four-legged robot to do so autonomously.

Wuhrrgh of the day

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