There are a number of differences between Android and iPhone, but one that Google has drawn attention to in a number of ads over the years is the free unlimited storage in Google Photos compared to the free 5GB offered by Apple Cloud storage for all iPhone owners. In a number of ads, Google mocked the “low disk space” warning box that may appear when trying to take a photo. This touts that Android users can automatically back up their pictures in a high quality format on their servers without paying a penny.
Unfortunately that has now changed. After five years of offering free photo backups in its “high quality” compressed format, Google Photos now calculates storage plans as soon as users fill out the free 15 GB entitlement that comes with every Google account. The change is expected to take effect from June 1, 2021. So you still have a few months to take advantage of the offer and secure your cherished family photos.
Google also plans to delete data from inactive accounts. These are all accounts that have not been signed in for two years.
Pixel branded smartphones will still be able to save photos in a “high quality” format after the deadline. This unlimited photo storage is one of the biggest differentiators between Google’s own hardware and other Android phones, and it’s nice to see that Google isn’t taking its word for it. However, the Californian company has confirmed to The Verge that future Pixel phones won’t come with unlimited storage, so users will incur the same monthly fees.
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Google Photos is available for iOS and the free storage offering was available to iPhone owners with a Google Account. However, Apple does not allow iPhone owners to change the default photo library. As a result, users have to regularly open the Google Photos to upload their latest photos, and then return to the Apple Photos app to delete the pictures and avoid hitting the 5GB Apple cloud storage limit (or cough for additional iCloud Memory every month).
Understandably, that’s a bit lousy, so the latest changes are much more likely to affect Android and iOS.
It’s not clear why Google has given up on its promise to store all of your photos for free.
Luckily, images you’ve already saved to the cloud using Google Photos won’t count towards your 15GB amount if the changes happen on June 1st. Also, depending on how many photos you take in a typical month, you should be able to get through to the end of 2021 without hitting the new 15GB allowance. Once you do that, Google will charge £ 1.59 per month for 100 GB of storage on their servers, £ 2.49 for 200 GB (this membership includes 3 percent cashback on everything in the Google Store) and £ 7.99 for 2 TB cloud backup.
The Mountain View-based company states that it will send alerts and warnings when you are about to reach your storage limit. Google has also introduced new storage management tools in Google Photos, including a tool that makes it easier to remove unwanted photos like blurry pictures or old screenshots and delete them for space reasons.
Google announced the changes and posted a blog post titled, “Today, more than 4 trillion photos are stored in Google Photos, and 28 billion new photos and videos are uploaded every week. With so many of you relying on Google Photos to keep your memories back, it’s important that it not only be a great product but also meet your needs in the long run. To welcome even more of your memories and create Google Photos for the future, we’re changing our Unlimited High Quality Storage Policy. “