Organizing, backing up and enjoying digital photos are things I have been deeply concerned about for nearly a decade. My eldest son was born in 2010, so he was at the perfect age when the iPhone camera started to improve year by year at an amazing rate. iCloud Photos and Google Photos are the most common photo management solutions used by people today. What is the best way to manage photos on iPhone, iPad and Mac? When comparing Google Photos and iCloud-which solution is the best?
Due to the continuous increase in file storage costs and media quality, cloud photo management has become a feature that only large technology companies can provide. Over the years, many companies have come and gone, leaving consumers with few photo management options. This category should be dominated by Flickr, but they strive to create a great mobile experience. In the end, companies like Everpix provide powerful solutions, but their survival time is not long enough to win mass market share. Today, we are left with three companies: Apple, Google and Amazon, but for most people, it will boil down to choosing Apple or Google. Let̵
Apple iCloud Photos
If you are using macOS and iOS devices, iCloud Photos has a very obvious advantage: it is a native service. Your camera roll has been inserted directly into iCloud photos. If you post photos to apps like Instagram, all the photos are there. If you want to use a third-party editing tool, you can grant it access to the entire library. Any edits you make will automatically sync to any place.
ICloud Photos on the Mac is a few years earlier than Google’s web interface for managing photos on the desktop. I can make custom photo albums based on EXIF data and easily export photos (drag and drop) as needed. Since the Mac has a 1 TB drive, I also keep an offline copy of the tape library. This will allow Time Machine and Backblaze to keep other backups for me. Despite advances in network technology, I still prefer native apps for photo management.
However, you don’t have to have all the storage space on your device. An important advantage of iCloud Photos is that you can access the entire library from all devices without having to download the entire database offline. You will be able to edit photos on the iPad, and then all the edits will appear in all other places.
In terms of price, Apple was at a disadvantage because Google provided a free version, but this will change in 2021. Google will discontinue the free Google Photos storage layer. Although your existing uploads will not be counted towards your 15GB free quota, future uploads will be calculated after June 2021.
Apple only provides 5GB of storage space for free, so if you have more space, you need to upload it. Apple’s pricing for iCloud storage:
- 5GB: free
- $.99/month: 50GB
- $2.99/month: 200 GB
- $9.99/month: 2 TB
iCloud storage is also included in the Apple One bundle, including access to Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News and more. If families wishing to bundle services together already plan to buy Apple TV+ and Apple Music, they can save money. With iCloud’s storage costs falling even lower. If you don’t want to buy an Apple One, the only plans you can share with your family are the $2.99/mo and $9.99/mo plans.
The main disadvantage of iCloud Photos is the lack of home settings. I know they provide shared albums, but families cannot share a library. As a child’s parent, I have many photos. Some of them were taken away by me, and some by my wife. The fact that there is no automated way to share them back and forth creates a complicated workflow. You can airdrop them back and forth, but they will become old after a period of time. My iCloud photo library is our main library, so I set up my wife’s camera rolls to upload via Dropbox and then import them into my library.
I hope that Apple will increase the way for families to share the entire library with their families in the future. I want to assign the reading material and copyright of my camera roll to my family. Users can save any content from family members’ libraries to their own library. People can still create their own photo albums, but they can also view the library of family members (albums, faces, etc.). I can choose the best photos taken by my wife and use this option to save them in my photo library.
Google Photos is Google’s cloud-based photo management solution, which has many benefits. Still, the key question is, is it enough to provide a better solution than Apple’s iCloud Photos? It provides excellent version solutions for native applications on iPad and iPhone, but on desktop computers, you will rely on the web interface to access your media library. The lack of desktop applications has a serious negative impact on Google Photos.
For the longest time, Google has provided a free plan that can meet the needs of most people, so it is better than Apple in terms of pricing. With the end of this practice in 2021, it is time for them to be on an equal footing. Google’s pricing:
- 100GB, $1.99 per month
- 200GB, $2.99 per month
- $9.99 per month for 2TB
As you can see, it is very comparable to Apple’s pricing, and Google also offers family options. If you are currently using Google Photos but want to switch to iCloud, check out our handy guide on how to export from Google Photos.
Where Google is completely different, Apple shares with family members. Google Photos provides the option to share your entire library with others. You can share the entire gallery, and only share photos of certain people or photos after a certain date. This function is done from Google account to Google account. Even if you don’t want to run into trouble, you can use your spouse’s phone to log in to your Google account, and both can upload it to the same place.
Which solution is the best?
Both services provide a great experience, each with pros and cons. Apple provides deep integration with iPhone, iPad and Mac. Google provides powerful family sharing options. In terms of automatically creating memory movies, Google’s automation may be ahead of Apple. Apple provides better editing options because third-party applications can be directly bound to the library.
If you are closely related to the Apple ecosystem, it is difficult to compromise all the benefits of iCloud Photos. I suggest you start there, and if it doesn’t meet your needs, go to Google Photos. The ability to download the library offline for backup is very important to me, and I really like editing in desktop applications and web applications. Both solutions are great and are ideal locations for your growing personal photo and movie database. When considering using Google Photos vs iCloud, the real winner is consumers, because both options are good choices. When considering each person’s strengths, it comes down to personal preference.
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