So you may or may not have heard about Google Photos, if you haven’t here’s a quick summary.
Google Photos is a division of Google Drive, a service by Google that offers 15 GB for free, now 15 GB isn’t that much so that’s why we are not gonna talk about that, on the other side, Google Photos offers unlimited storage for Photos and Video ONLY, many wonder how it is that they can provide a fully unlimited* service for free.
Of course, there are some limitations to this, apart from not being able to store in raw format, Google also limits photos to 16 megapixels and videos to 1080p, so it is great to store photos you want to keep but not enough to waste space in your phone, but it won’t be good your RED camera 8k footage.
Ok, now that we’ve summarized what Google Photos is, here is the reason why they can provide such a service.
Google Photos uses something called compression on media files which are stored on Google Photos for FREE, If you don’t want your media compressed there is an option but you will use up your drive storage whether it’s a free account with 15 GB or a paid account with Google One. Compression is basically minifying the contents of a file, or the amount of storage it takes up. When you compress media files the compressing software will look for patterns (In this case Google Photos) like equal pixels or blacks with a slight difference, then instead of individually marking the color of that pixel it will join them up and instead mention an area, this can also be applied to .png`s which can have transparent backgrounds, and this also applies to video and audio but in different ways, since video is just many pictures being joined together it works Almost the same way, it applies compression to every frame, and with video the software also looks for equal frames or frames that are just slightly different and won’t affect the quality of the video, for audio same techniques are applied, by removing ambient noise, unnecessary information like constant updates on volume if it remains the same for a big part or even the whole audio file.
So, we’ve talked about how they can do it, but not about why. Yes, compression significantly reduces the file size, but it doesn’t completely get rid of it. There are many reasons, Google still profits from your data. Google does this to immerse users more into their ecosystem, making them like and trust Google products.
Google Photos is a great tool to have on your phone to save space, and sync photos and videos across devices, 4k+ footage shouldn’t be stored due to the compression and reduction to 1080p. Overall, it is a great service and I definitely use it on my phone as my main photos app.
Tip: Use Google Photos to save storage on your device and have a backup in case it gets lost.