Have You Tried Google+ Photos?

Google+ Photos is my go-to source for storing images and videos. That’s likely because I’m a “Google Tool,” addicted to all thing Google. But, unlike other photo storage sites, Google+ photos gives me additional tools to make my photos look cool. Or at least make me think my photos look cool.

auto awesome bike riding

What is Google+ Photos?

Google+ Photos is Google’s photo storing software that offers several tools to store, improve, and share you photographs. However, Google+ Photos is not a photo sharing site, like Flickr. Google+ Photos is dedicated to you, and helping your photos look awesome. I love Google+ Photos because I can automatically back up all of the images I take on my mobile device, without fear of losing anything.

Of course, there are folks that are concerned about letting Google access and store their pictures. But in my mind, this isn’t any different that sharing photos on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Plus, with Google+ Photos, I know my photos are backed up and accessible anywhere. I’m also thankful for Google+ Photos because of the additional features offered, such as auto awesome and stories, that help me “tell” better stories.

Finding Plus Photos

In order to access Google+ Photos, you’ll need sign into your Google account in your browser or via your mobile device.

Web browser

If you’d like to access your photos from you web browser, simply go to Google.com and log into your Google account. Then click on the +[Your Name] link in the right-hand corner.

plus name link

This loads Google+.

google plus screen

You can now load Google+ from the drop-down menu, or via the two links in the “Photos taken recently” box. Note: this will only be available if you’ve activated saving on your mobile device.

google plus browser

You can now see all of your backed up photos, or highlights of pictures from particular days. This is one of the useful features, since you can easily see when/where you took the image. I like this more than Dropbox’s or other’s upload method, especially when you get to the more advanced features under the More tab, which we’ll talk about shortly.

Mobile

Accessing Google+ Photos is a little easier from your mobile device. Simply scroll through the apps menu and click on the Photos app.

Photos Android Menu

If you don’t see the Photos app, you don’t have Google+ installed on your device. Go get Google+ now.

The app will open and you’ll see a menu to access all of Photos’ advanced features.

GooglePlusPhotosMenuAnd just like the browser, you view photo highlights or all of them at once.

Google+ Photos should ask you whether you’d like to back up your pictures and videos to your Google account. If not, follow these instructions to set that up.

Advanced features available

Each of Google+ Photos’ advanced features are accessible in your browser or from your mobile device, except editing.

Photo editing

Photos features a core set of basic editing tools — think Photoshop without a lot of the “shop — that allow you to enhance your photographs. Simply click on the photo you’d like to edit, then select Edit from the top options toolbar.

plus options toolbar edit

You can see the other options for rotating or cropping the image.

In edit mode, you’ll have options for basic and “creative” picture editing.

google plus editing tools

Best of all, Google+ Photos stores the original, so you don’t have to worry about making any mistakes.

Unfortunately, photo editing is available for mobile devices, but if you use Snapseed, you get the same effects and options. Sometimes, Snapseed’s enhancements are better than Google+ Photos’.

Auto-enhance

Google+ Photos has a special auto-enhancement feature that will “fix” any connected photo, if you’d like.

google plus auto enhance

You can learn more about enabling or disabling the auto-enhance feature here. Personally, I’m a big fan of auto-enhance because it takes a good picture and makes it look even better.

google plus enhanced original

Sometimes it’s the subtleties that make a picture pop. If you want all of the awesome image editing functions without much hassle, then you want Google+ Photos.

Auto awesome

Auto-enhance is part of the auto awesome tools built in to Google+ Photos. Except it’s only a small portion, because auto awesome is so much more.

For instance, the most common auto awesome feature is animation. Photos will take a series of pictures and animate them in sequence.

You almost feel like you’re a part of the action or event. Admittedly, sometimes the awesome is rather random, which means the picture’s less thrilling, but that’s part of the fun. Usually though, Google gets it right.

Unfortunately, animated pictures will only show up in your Google+ share stream (or as a direct link), so it’s difficult to share them with friends and family outside of Google+.

Some other auto awesome features include twinkling lights, snowfall, picture collages, and motion blur.

motion panorama

My biggest complaint with auto awesome is the inability to create my own awesome pictures. Auto-awesome allows you to create your own movie, motion, or mix, simply by clicking the plus button (+). But that wouldn’t be very “auto,” would it?

create new auto awesome

Awesome Stories

Stories are the newest enhancement to Google+ Photos. Stories are a digital assortment of pictures, videos, and captions that allow you to “tell” everyone about your experience.

google plus story

Stories are like scrapbooks without the cutting, pasting, and mess. You can see my story of ABA TECHSHOW 2014. Stories automatically populate, so be sure to take lots of pictures in a “new” place to make the story happen.

Awesome Movies

Movies, like Stories, appear from a collaboration of videos and pictures. Movies are more like your homemade recognition videos shown at awards banquets. The movies appear in 720 or 1080p resolution, mashing up photos and videos with music and titles.

Thankfully, you can create your own movies using your mobile device and share them beyond your list of friends on Google+. Follow these helpful suggestions.

Google+ Photos is simply awesome

Perhaps the greatest feature I love most about Google+ Photos, is the fact that I don’t worry about backing up my photos. Yes, this means you’ll need to associate more storage with your Google account, but $120 per year for 1 TB of cloud isn’t a ridiculous cost. I really never worry about that though because there are so many different ways to get free Drive storage. I’m currently on the “Legacy Plan” (no longer available) that offers 80GB for $20 per year.

storage amount

I upload every snapshot and video, and I’m only using 6% of my current allotment. And that’s after uploading my pictures and videos in full quality format, too.

If you’re a fan of sharing good photos with friends, family, and even the world, then I think you’ll like Google+ Photos. Sure, there are concerns — like my fear that Google knows me better than I know myself (and what I look like) — but isn’t the same concern with any mobile device? I love having my pictures backed up at all times, and the ability to share them whenever, and on whatever platform I choose. Google doesn’t do too bad at making my shots look awesome. Plus, don’t forget about Google Camera. It’ll add even more zing to your pictures.

What do you think of Google+ Photos? Are you a fan? Foe? Let me know.

Let's discuss this (you can use Markdown in your comment)

Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.