UPDATE: Google Photos is suspending its unlimited free storage policy for photos and videos. Comes as a shock, right?
After June 1, 2021, any new photos and videos you upload will count toward the complimentary free 15GB of storage that comes with every Google account.
— Google Photos (@googlephotos) November 11, 2020
The reaction of Google Users
Google has become a giant that’s become unbeatable especially because of the way they have integrated themselves into our daily lives. From Android phones to the very system running on your smart fridge, Google is nearly everywhere.
When Google launched Photos, they made bold claims of keeping their ‘High Quality’ Photos backup unlimited and free. However, that’s no longer the case. Many experts believe that Google made that bold claim to get users to start using their service and get hooked in. It’s easier to start charging users once they fully rely on your service.
With nearly a billion Google Photos users, Google has positioned itself strategically by launching a premium model. It only makes sense that they want to add an arsenal of cash flow to their already billion-dollar empire.
Now that other apps can’t compete with the way Google Photos operates, Google has successfully eliminated the competition, giving them a monopoly position in the industry.
Google Photos is arguably the best app for photo management. It offers premium features including unlimited storage, a fantastic photo editor, and an intelligent AI that sorts your pictures. However, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room i.e. Google allegedly being a data mining mafia.
Google’s entire business runs on user-generated content, including users’ personal information. So, what makes you think that the search engine giant isn’t using Google Photos to collect your personal information.
After all, thanks to your photos, it knows your location, recognizes the faces of your friends and family, and more. Therefore, it is better to delete Google Photos once and forever and switch to an alternative that values your security and privacy.
What’s Wrong with Google Photos
Update: Google Photos experienced a privacy breach where the app leaked the private videos of users to strangers in an apparent ‘technical issue’ between November 21st and November 25th last year. Some users received videos that weren’t theirs. Google has fixed the issue which affected less than 0.01 percent of Google Photos users who used Takeout.
— Jon Oberheide (@jonoberheide) February 4, 2020
Google Photos is a great app but it comes with its fair share of problems. Whether the issues are enough to switch or not, the decision is up to you. We have compiled a list of “wrongs” about Google Photos.
- Google knows where you are and where you have been. It reads your metadata which includes location as well. Of course, knowing where the picture was taken is good but maybe you are giving away too much information at the same time.
- Google Photos as a simple and generic “Gallery” lacks many features.
- Google’s AI is designed to identify faces and objects. This way Google knows who you are related to – be it your friends or family.
- Reportedly, Google faces delayed backup issues. Also, downloading a single image is impossible.
- Google can recognize the brands you own via your pictures like an ALDO purse. It uses this information to show you tailored ads.
- There is no desktop app for Google Photos, which means you can’t download all your images on the computer.
9 Best Google Photos Alternatives
We have shortlisted the following as the best Google Photos alternatives. However, keep in mind, no app is perfect. That’s why we have mentioned the point of concerns separately for each option. Here we go:
Dropbox is a renowned cloud storage service that was initially released in September 2008, nearly seven years before Google Photos. It was the primary source of backing up your photos, videos, and other important files before Google came into the picture.
If you configure Dropbox on your devices, it can definitely prove to be a decent Google Photos alternative. The file-hosting service offers features like Google where you can automatically sync all of the photos and videos from your smartphone to a secure location in the cloud.
Just like any other cloud storage, Dropbox isn’t free. Their free version is limited to 2GB of storage while Google Photos offers 15GB of free storage.
Apple offers its own cloud storage service. It was initially released in 2011. Since then, all Apple devices utilize iCloud. As you can expect, iCloud is a robust cloud storage service like Google Drive.
Photos is a part of iCloud similar to Google Photos where you can conveniently and securely back up your photos in the cloud. The photo search functionality is different for both premium cloud services, but you can easily access your photos and videos from anywhere.
While the free version of Dropbox offers 2GB of storage, iCloud offers 5GB of free storage. Their pricing plans are reasonable. For example, an iCloud’s 50GB plan costs just $1 a month, 200GB costs $3 a month, and 2TB costs just $10 a month.
However, iCloud doesn’t offer native support for Android phones, and that doesn’t look like it’s coming any time soon. While you can access iCloud’s limited functions via the browser, it’s not at all the same as having the app integrated on your phone like the iPhone.
Slidebox – Online Photo Storage App
Point of Concern: Slidebox requires a lot of manual work.
Reasons to Love: The best part about Google is it automatically sorts your pictures into albums. Well, Slidebox completely ignores this feature. It asks you to do it manually. Now, imagine going through hundreds of pictures and sorting them into different folders.
It may sound like a lot of work but Slidebox makes it easier. Just like Tinder, you have to swipe the pictures in the folders and if you want to delete them, just swipe up. The deleted pictures won’t be gone forever; you can recover them from the recycle bin. If you get short of storage space, just empty the recycle bin.
Adobe Bridge – A Photo App for Desktop
Point of Concern: Adobe Bridge is more of an app for “camera to desktop” photos transfer, rather than “mobile to desktop” transfer.
Reasons to Love: Adobe is known for producing costly software. However, Adobe Bridge is a free photo management app for computers. It gives you access to many advanced features such as panorama support, color management, batch renaming and resizing, HDR support, and watermarking.
There is definitely a shortage of photo apps for desktops. Adobe Bridge bridges the gap in this regard. It is for professional photographers who use DSLRs and other digital cameras. The app makes it very convenient to transfer pictures from a camera to a computer.
Available On: Windows costs $9.99 to $69.99/month.
Piwigo – A Professional Alternative to Google Photos
Point of Concern: Piwigo is considered a little bit technical and it’s for advanced users.
Reasons to Love: Piwigo is a photo management app for professionals and small businesses. The uploaded pictures can be categorized as per author, location, and other tags. The photos can be designated to individual albums. You can bring pictures from digiKam, Lightroom, Shotwell, and other mobile apps.
Piwigo can be used as a tool to backup photos as well as to showcase your work. There are many templates, plugins, and features available to enhance the presentation of your photos. Photographers can share content within the app to their clients and get feedback in the form of comments, ratings, favorites, etc. The clients can download photos or albums as well.
In addition, small companies can also use Piwigo professionally. They can add different team members to the company account. The account administrator can manage the users, groups, messages, galleries, permissions, and notifications.
Piwigo is a cloud-based app and offers end-to-end encryption. There is also an option to host the app yourself but you need technical expertise. The app is open-source so anyone can look at the code and find the vulnerabilities.
Prime Photos from Amazon – Google Photos Lookalike
Point of Concern: In order to enjoy this app, you must be a member of Amazon Prime. Otherwise, the account costs $59.99 per year for unlimited storage space.
Reasons to Love: Prime Photos from Amazon has imitated Google Photos in a lot of ways. So, if you are a loyal Google Photos user and still want to switch then Prime Photos is a great start. Of course, we do have some privacy issues with Prime Photos as well.
You get to save unlimited pictures and share your collection with five people. You can upload the pictures from any device. Amazon Prime can read your metadata, which means you can find pictures by location, people, or things. It also has a face recognition feature.
Flicker – Social Media + Photo Gallery + Photo Editing
Point of Concern: It can be considered just another social media platform.
Reasons to Love: Flicker is not a new name but we like the new look it has recently adapted along with the photo-editing feature. Flicker accepts photos in any size and resolution. It offers ample cloud storage of 1TB. Flicker is the preferred choice of many professional photographers so you can follow them. Also, you can make your photos public for the world to see.
The app offers the usual photo organization features. However, the plus side is you can edit your pictures within the app. In addition, you can upload videos too.
Piktures – Secure Photo Storage App
Point of Concern: The free version of Piktures is pretty basic. The paid account has all the perks and benefits. Also, it is an Android-only app.
Reasons to Love: People who are sick of the default Google Photos app on their Android phone can switch to Piktures, which is specifically made for Android users. The app has an attractive interface and can be navigated easily. It will organize the pictures with respect to location and date. There’s also a calendar view where all the images will be displayed as per the date and month.
Just like other apps, Piktures also has a paid version that provides Dropbox sync, PIN-protection, and other features. The basic account of Piktures lets you upload your GIFs, photos, and videos.
Available On: Android, and costs nothing, it’s free.
Cluster – Almost a Private Social Media
Point of Concern: When you sign up, Cluster gathers your personal information and shares it with its partners and third parties in the name of improving its service. As we have mentioned earlier, data gathering, sharing, and usage of any sort always raise concerns for privacy.
Reasons to Love: Cluster is a private social media of sorts. You can upload pictures, make albums, and share them with selected people. They can comment or like your photos and you can see who viewed the album and respond to their comments.
Similarly, you can also be invited to view the albums of your friends and family. It is a private viewing party of your personal photos. You can decide the audience for every album and enjoy the response.
Conclusion: Google Photos Privacy Sucks
We have established that Google Photos’ privacy is quite shady and we cannot trust it. That was the main reason to begin the quest for Google Photos alternatives. We have presented you with nine solid names. However, they do come with their own share of flaws.
The major trend that can be seen across all of them is the paid version. The basic accounts come with basic features. For superior privacy, you need to pay money every month or a year for the premium account. Now, it all comes down to whether your pocket allows you to do so or not.
Will you spend money on the privacy of your photos? Or the free accounts suit you just fine? Please share your views with us in the comments section below.