Well, it finally happened. Google today announced that its extremely popular Google Photos app would be losing free unlimited storage next year. With a product that was thrown into the public eye on that promise, is it still worth using now that free storage is a thing of the past?

Since its debut 5 years ago, Google Photos has offered completely unlimited storage space, free of charge for everyone. The only catch? Photos were compressed, but in a way that most people could barely notice. It was a win for everyone!

The promise for that free storage was always “forever,” but now there’s an expiration date. On June 1st, 2021 any new pictures of videos backed up to Photos will count towards the 15GB of free storage all Google users get. Beyond that, you’ll have to buy a Google One subscription to get 100GB, 200GB, or 2TB and beyond of storage that applies to Photos, Drive, and every Google product you use.

Really, this was inevitable. Storage is not free and with over a billion people backing up new images and videos on a daily basis, even a few megabytes per person adds up to an amount of storage the average person can’t fathom.

So, now that Google Photos will eventually cost something for everyone, is it still worth using? For Android users, I feel like the argument is pretty cut and dry. Google Photos is pre-loaded and works wonderfully on the platform. The countless features such as shared albums, link sharing, automatic backup, clearing storage space, and a print store are things you just don’t find on most other services. Amazon offers free unlimited storage for Prime members, but I think Google Photos has a better overall feature set that will keep a lot of people on board despite requiring payment.

The conversation is much different on iOS, though. There, Google Photos needs to be manually installed and, for many people, requires an account to be made. Photos also doesn’t work as well on iOS because of the platform’s restrictions on background apps (a conversation for another day). Meanwhile, Apple’s iCloud Backup is natively integrated into the stock photos app and backs up photos from the moment someone gets their phone. It offers much less storage, but for users who aren’t all that tech-savvy, Google Photos is a harder sell.

With a year to make the full decision, what’s your take? Is Google Photos still worth it? Will you switch to another service? Vote in the poll below!

Personally, I think Google Photos is still well worth it. The service’s features are second to no one else and you already get 15GB of storage for free. Plus, when you do start paying for storage it’s shared across Photos, Drive, and Gmail, and you can even split that storage with your whole family. Paying for a product that was once free absolutely sucks, but with Photos, it’s still well worth it.

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Ben Schoon

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