Apple Photos comes pre-installed on every Apple device.
It’s a standard application, and because of that, it’s heavily
integrated with the Apple ecosystem. This means that when
you enable iCloud Photos, you have immediate access to all
your pictures from the Photos app on any of your Apple devices.
Google Photos is available on iOS and Android devices. It’s
also directly connected to your Gmail account, and is easily
accessible from your web browser. However, since it’s a
third-party app, it doesn’t offer nearly as tight of an integration
within the iOS ecosystem as Apple Photos, but the cross-platform solution it provides is its true strength in this matter.
If you use IFTTT (free, short for If This Then That), then
please be aware that Apple Photos has more and better recipes available than Google Photos, which has excluded itself
from IFTTT recipes.
If you take a photo using the stock Camera app, Apple
stores the image as a file type known as High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF). This file format is touted as providing
a high-quality image stored in a very efficient manner, which
decreases your file size while allegedly providing the same
or similar quality to the original picture. This can cause some
issues with people trying to open their photos on a PC, so if
you want to keep photos as JPEGs, you can go to Settings,
then Camera, then Formats, and check Most Compatible to
store photos as JPEG images.
You can also take Live photos on your iPhone and both
photo storage apps will upload them to their servers correctly. Older photos taken in this manner will sometimes have a
small video with them on Google Photos, but it seems that
Google has been slowly consolidating those photos into actual Live photos. (Note, I do not recommend taking Live photos
if storage space is a concern for you.)
While you can store compressed versions of your images in
Apple Photos to save space, the version saved to iCloud will
never be compressed. Google Photos will compress all photos down to 16 megapixels (unless the original picture was
smaller, at which point it will not compress it). This is not an
issue for images taken on your iPhone though, as no current
model has a camera with more than 12 megapixels.
In terms of photo editing capabilities, Apple Photos is clearly superior, as it offers the ability to automatically correct photos and manually adjust color settings, levels, and a range of
other options. Google Photos, on the other hand, is seriously
limited to simple filters and automatic color correction and
leveling. Apple Photos is far and away the better option for
on-the-go photo editing.
That being said, there are better apps for photo editing,
including Snapseed (free), VSCO free), and Afterlight 2
Apple Photos approaches photo organization by date and location, listing your most recent photos at the bottom. It’s also
become much better at searching within your photo library
for specific photos and objects or people within them (such
as pictures with cats or food). It even includes a personalized
feed for you every day of pictures you took in the past on a
Google Photos approaches organization by time, as well
as subject matter, location, and a host of other criteria. It will
even filter based on a particular location on a specific date if
you wish. The search function is more accurate (for now) than
Apple’s. This is understandable considering Google’s expertise with search engine technology. Google Photos will use
algorithms to create specialized albums, and the occasional
movie or reel of related images. While Apple Photos has similar features, Google Photos’ algorithm-generated movies are
arguably one of the top features of the app for those who take
a lot of photos.
NO CLEAR WINNER
Seriously, there is no clear winner between the two. They
both have their strengths and weaknesses, but they also work
very well in tandem with each other. One of the strategies I
recommend is to use Apple Photos as your main photo management app, and set up Google Photos as backup. This enables you to have at least two copies of all your photos stored
in the cloud. By using both apps, you can ensure that you’ll
never lose a precious memory or a great photo ever again,
and that’s the most important promise a photo management
system can deliver on.
Kenneth Boshell is a freelance writer who lives in Florida. His finely honed skills include
finding great taco eateries, petting random cats, and hunting for the most delicious
chocolate bar in the world. He has a ridiculously large pile of books to read, which he’d
get to if he could just put down the Black Company and Harry Potter for a moment.