The Future of Google Photos Photo Oggling

Big thanks to +Brian Rose and +Trey Ratcliff  for letting us in on some of the future features of Google Photos in your yesterday’s hangout with the photography elite. It is clear that your team is very involved in working with the professional photographers and with the use of Hangouts you were able to come up with some pretty ingenious ideas. Being somewhat of an amateur photographer myself, I am really excited for the future of Google Photos. But lets not forget about the rest of the +ers that are not pros. Unfortunately, I feel that some of the proposed features are irrelevant to the regular user and instead of introducing new features Google Photos should really improve/fix what they already have.

For once, whenever I do a Google Image Search, I focus on the royalty-free images (kudos to +Robert Scoble), because I don’t want to pay for a photo that is going on my powerpoint about hand-washing. I do see, however, how it would be helpful to have the paid content highligted in the search. This way the artists can better connect with new customers and even the regular user can filter out the stuff that he/she would otherwise have to pay for.

Furthermore, unlike the professional photographers that want as much exposure as they can get, by having their photos disseminated across many differente websites, I want a single place to store my photos. A place where I can take my entire library which is currently stored on my aging WHS, which can die any moment, and mirror them to the cloud – all 1.5TB of it. I don’t need to tell you how important data redundancy is to any family that wants to preserve 15 years of pictures of Thanksgiving dinners, those beautiful petunias your mom nurses every year in her garden, or the many awkward shots of you doing stupid things as a kid. I just really want to back to the future where my data is completely independent from my operating system. Heck, I don’t even want it to be tied to my computer. This way if it craps out tomorrow or I decide to switch from PCs to *cough* Apple *cough*, I am saved from the hassle of migrating 1.5 TB of photos and videos because my data lives in the Google Cloud (most of my documents already live there courtesy of Google Cloud Connect).

Additionally, having all of my photos and videos in the cloud would streamline sharing. I could easily share the media with my closest circles or posting them to my public profile or even putting them up for contest (if that feature comes to fruition). Previously, I had to email pictures, or people would email pictures to me, and then I would need to save the attachments or extract the zip files – what a pain! Circles is the future solution to the problem of sharing so +Trey Ratcliff +Brian Rose, please don’t tell me that there are “issues” implementing it. This is such a fundamental feature of the whole service, it is the definition of Google+.

Frankly, I want to use Circles for all of my file sharing, not just media but documents too (and even if it is just a single file). This is why I need an easy way to move all of that stuff to the cloud. I know I have the sync feature in Picasa (and the previously mentioned Cloud Connect) but its still broken dropping face tags, not reading XMP, etc. I really like Picasa but I am waiting for 4.0 in hope of having all these issues resolved. I invested too much time and effort into cataloging, labeling, and staring photos using Windows XMP that it is impossible for me to redo all that work so that I can take full advantage of Google Photos. Seriously, Google should create their own metadata standard with a field for Google Circles.

Of course detaching data from personal computer and letting Google safekeep our digital belongings remains a scary thought for a lot of people. Everybody is afraid that with all that knowledge about us (photos, credit cards, interests, documents, etc.), Google will soon create a virtual you that will look like you, behave like you, and do everything like you – the next step is to kill yourself in RL and transcend to Google “heaven” where you can “live” forever for a low $5/month (basic plan).

All joking aside, a lot of people are not comfortable with Google’s take on privacy. By now, I think almost everybody heard about Google’s “real name” policy and the outrage it resonated with across the internet. I am not going to take stance on this subject because I am very conflicted at this point and have not taken sides yet (maybe I will write about it in the future). I do, however, have a strong opinion when it comes to my pictures, which I consider very private to me. I want to have total control over who sees what. Which is why I am happy to report that progress is being made on this front. Today, +Matt Steiner announced a new ‘lock’ feature added to G+ photo albums. Basically, it allows you to prevent your albums from being further reshared to unauthorized people. Three months from now, when I finally finish uploading my pictures to Google Photos, I will feel safe that the pictures I share with friends will not go public. That is true for albums but we still do not have the granular control that would allow locking of a single photo.

Google+ team has a lot to work on but if you watched yesterday’s hangout you know that progress is being made. They take the feedback very seriously. All we need to do is give them time.

In the meantime please chime in and tell us what would you like to see in Google Photos.

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