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  • Writer's pictureBryan Jun

Google Photos

I'm going to get so much heat for this post being in a category called "undervalued apps and companies" and part of me wants to admit this is a copout post as I haven't really been exploring new apps or companies recently. Give me three minutes to explain.

I also want to provide full disclosure that I've never been an active user of Apple's photo library feature, so maybe I'm missing out on that front (fanboys please be relieved - I use Apple Music over Spotify), but I have a strong inkling based on the Maps wars that Google's photo storage solution is far superior. Outside of Alphabet's recent implementation of a limited storage system, and rightfully so as unlimited data on such a sophisticated solution seems too good to be true, I genuinely can't pinpoint an issue with this application. I find this to be the case across all of Google product offerings - sure, they might not be of utmost quality nor do they provide anything revolutionary (at least in our ungrateful minds in 2021) - but their solutions feel like a great Swiss Army Knife to be a digital citizen in the modern times. I've recently talked to a member of Google's strategy team and he noted that this is one of Google's primary playbooks - to have the everyday user buy into a free-to-use and easy-to-understand product, increase adaptation and dependence, and eventually move onto a data based payment system and leave the rest be. Think about how many aspects of your life are part of the Google ecosystem and what fraction of that you actually pay for (of course not considering the million data points you provide them, but at this point it's too late to think about that).

I have three aspects of Google Photos that I am very fond of - and all three aren't really revolutionary nor unique to the platform. But as it serves as the aggregator of all my photos, the simplicity and the mere fact that such an aggregated solution exists for someone who obsessively records and stores like me, is something we often take for granted.

For starters, as does Snapchat and Instagram (and this makes me sound like a boomer) I'm obsessed with Google Photo's "___ year ago today" feature. Not only does it bring fond memories when least expected, only growing in volume as you contribute more and more to the platform, but it also serves as a visual reminder of where you were exactly a year or more back and how far you've come. We rarely think about the path we have taken and how much progress we've made as we are caught up in the moment. Ironically, it seems that we're often so caught up in the moment that we rarely live in it. Philosophy aside, and perhaps I'm giving it too much credit, it's miraculous how much a picture can give you. The same idea applies with the app sometimes throwing compilations or collages your way of various trips you've taken before or a collection of pictures of you and others you often take pictures with.

That brings a great segway to my second favorite feature, which is the platform's unreal (somewhat creepy) ability to identify pictures, places and things. One of the main byproducts of mobile photo taking is sharing such photos - it's quite easy to find common place or widely known visuals on the webs if you're trying to explain something to someone, but if you want to share regarding a personal experience or show off a girl you've been seeing (and you find doing so through Instagram presents a slightly less serious picture), nothing is better than Google Photos. It doesn't at stop at people - if you're going to the doctors for the first time in awhile and you forget what your insurance card looks like (and the four hundred different numbers on it), you can just type in "insurance card" in the search line and it'll come up. You can sort by time, by people in the picture, where you took the picture, what's in the picture - users can even aid Google to make sure it knows your people better by playing a gamified version of "are these the same people." I'm aware there's a big red question mark regarding privacy laced throughout this post, but as noted before, I think at this point we might as well exploit the platforms to the best of our ability knowing we've already been exploited.

Lastly - Google Photos, like all of its counterparts, is fully web-integrated (I'm actually not sure if that's the correct technical term, bare with me). As far as I'm aware, Apple photos requires a Mac or at least an Apple Photos app to access (please let me know I'm wrong), but Google Photos can be accessed on anything with an internet connection. I think this speaks volumes to where we're headed in the near term with which tech platform will come out as king - who can sustain an end to end ecosystem varying on how many are dependent on the various function that it provides, and the synergy that occurs amidst them. I'd like to think that on a day to day perspective, Apple and Alphabet are the front runners, with Facebook and Amazon providing a slightly more niche array of solutions. This prompts an additional post in the future, but I'm curious to see if an American platform can achieve the likes of Eastern superpowers like WeChat and Kakao, who provides everything from car sharing to monetary transactions.

Apologies once again for calling Google Photos and its family of products "undervalued," this is definitely not financial advice. Sundar please give me unlimited data for free.

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