As the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Google’s big I/O 2015 keynote took place on Thursday, and it lasted for more than two hours. As you might imagine, there was plenty of news shared on stage during the lengthy event and much of it was intriguing. When it comes to announcements that really made waves though, there were only a few to be found.
In terms of generating buzz, Google Photos was definitely somewhere near the top of the list. Google announced that it was releasing an updated version of its photo-hosting solution, and it now would offer unlimited storage for photos and videos.
It’s a pretty incredible deal indeed, but real photography fans might want to read the fine print before they get too excited.
The new and improved Google Photos app is already available for Android and the iPhone. The associated service automatically backs up all photos and videos captured on a mobile device, and photos can also be uploaded manually from a desktop or laptop using the Google Photos website.
On the surface, this is the holy grail for casual, amateur and even professional photographers. Free… unlimited… storage. But “unlimited” is never truly unlimited, and Google Photos has two major limitations.
Photos uploaded to Google Photos have a maximum resolution of 16 megapixels, or 4920 x 3264 pixels. Any photos larger than that will automatically be downsampled by Google. This is fine for most current smartphone models, but images captured by any decent DSLR will see their quality reduced dramatically when they’re uploaded to Google Photos.
On the video side of things, 1080p is the highest resolution Google Photos supports, so all those 2K and 4K videos you recorded on your new Android phone will be downsampled as well.
To casual users, these limitations seem trivial — and they are. If the iPhone or an Android handset is your only camera, Google Photos is quite possibly the perfect cloud photo and video storage solution for you. If you’re a pro or even just an enthusiast though, these issues will be difficult to swallow.