Monday, May 29, 2017

Giving Google Photos another chance

imageAgainst my better judgement, I left google photo on my new android phone, It immediately insinuated itself into my photos uploading everything (yes I have checked the only upload photo on WiFi connection option). I then just ignore it. Well it did keep updating itself and occasionally asking if it could vacuum up (it uses the term backup) any images saved it new folders on the phone. I got one or two excited notification that the assistant had made a very lame slide show it called a movie or had enhanced one of my images (made it black and white). So I figure its mostly harmless and just keep saying no.

At their recent I/O conference, supposedly for developers, Google announced an upgrade to google photos, included improved sharing, a photobook printing service and a new feature to come called Google lens (a turbo AI charged version of google goggles that will start adding details of what you photographed to you photo’s presumably captions or metadata (read that as where to buy it)

This is google’s mobile phone oriented hype (promotional clip) to make sharing look great, and not something more akin to skynet. I’m not thinking it is so intentionally sinister, its more just a feeble “Emperor's New Clothes” metaphor/slight of hand trick to open up and share even more of you private life with a colossal secretive corporation, who make there money selling such stuff to advertisers (oh yes and the NSA and perhaps others also vacuum it up as well.)

Well there are legitimate reason to want to share photos, firstly publically, so as for a blog post or privately just for the eyes of family and friends. I still use google photo via open writer (an imageopen source version of microsoft’s now defunct Live Writer blogging tool). Once upon a time when google photos was picasa web album you could also get a link to the ,jpeg file or embedded code that could be pasted in any regular HTML. Not any more I’m afraid, google will only let you play like that to google+, facebook and twitter (yes not even blogger). While the Open Writer connection still works I will keep using it but I am now a little less confident in its long term availability.

There are better places to publically share your photos, eg dropbox or flickr.

The private sharing is via share albums which you can allow others, with valid google accounts) to have access. Which is an improvement on having to make things publically viewable if you want to share.

The facial recognition isn’t to bad (possibly better than picasa’s)and once you identify them, add their google account IDs to the face and authorization to share with them and photos of friends and family can trigger a notification that you have a new photo of them, and they will be able to access the photo. I’m guessing this aimed at overly social teens and twenty something’s but I can see it ending in tears and regrets.

Unfortunately despite the claim better organization of your images via AI, the misclassification of places and things in my images is still overwhelmingly woeful. Ok I tend not to take tourist shots and I have travelled a lot BUT to only about half the places google think I’ve been. Under things I saw I’d supposedly taken about 50 shot of auroras! That is one of my biggest photographic desires and whilst I perhaps could have last weekend I am positive I never have. They were mainly star images with light horizons, nothing like auroras. The closest image was a strange green light I photographed in April 2010, it was in the western sky not the south and whilst i can’t explain it is probably not an aurora. (Google you keep disappointing me)

imageI also went on-line to my google photos web page, and its much the same as the last “upgrade” two year ago, but I did notice a new item called ARCHIVE with a new sticker beside it. Please don’t be decieved this isn’t anything like an archive it will keep all the photos but wont show then in the normal photos view. Presumably because people soon realis4 it is a very cluttered place it might be a much better alternative to not upload them in the first place. I must again stress google photo is not a safe place to store your only copy of your digital photos. If you must it can be used as one offsite place to have as a backup (particularly og phone photos) provide you have another backup under you control (like on your computers hard disk)

So I will keep any open mind, keep using google photos to hold my blog images and let it upload photos from my phone but I am unlikely to return to using google photos as my on-line place of choice to share or organise photos.

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