Master Google Pho­tos

RYAN WHITWAM re­veals how to un­lock all the ma­chine-learn­ing power within Google Pho­tos

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Google has been dab­bling in photo host­ing for years, but it wasn’t un­til it re­leased the re­vamped Google Pho­tos in May 2015 that it re­ally took photo ar­chiv­ing se­ri­ously. We can now back up all our pho­tos for free, and even get our images printed in Photo Books. Pho­tos lever­ages Google’s ma­chine learn­ing mus­cle to do a lot of cool things – you just need to know where to look. Here are five of the best fea­tures hid­den in Google Pho­tos.

1. Name peo­ple

Face de­tec­tion was one of ear­li­est ex­am­ples of Google Pho­tos’ ma­chine-learn­ing. From the very be­gin­ning, can could open the Pho­tos search in­ter­face, type in ‘faces’, and see group­ings of all the faces that com­monly ap­pear in your pho­tos. That’s handy, but you can make this fea­ture even more use­ful by at­tach­ing names to those faces.

To add names, open the search screen and search for ‘peo­ple’ – you’ll get a se­ries of thumb­nails of all the com­mon faces that ap­pear in your Pho­tos ar­chives. Tap a face, and then se­lect ‘Who is this?’ to add a pri­vate la­bel. With that done, you can use that la­bel to search for pho­tos of that per­son. For ex­am­ple, ‘Rachel in Florida’ will pull up pho­tos of some­one you’ve la­belled ‘Rachel’ that were taken in Florida.

2. Quick se­lect pho­tos

Google Pho­tos makes it easy to save ev­ery photo you take, but that can add up to a lot of pho­tos. If

you need to se­lect mul­ti­ple pho­tos – say, for batch dele­tion – the de­fault way in most apps is to long­press then tap on ad­di­tional items. How­ever, you can se­lect mul­ti­ple items in Google Pho­tos with­out a bunch of te­dious tap­ping.

To se­lect mul­ti­ple pho­tos, sim­ply long-press and drag up or down. Pho­tos will be se­lected as you go, and the fur­ther you drag, the faster pho­tos will be se­lected. When you re­lease, you can tap in­di­vid­ual pho­tos to add or re­move them from the se­lec­tion. This is great for bulk ac­tions when shar­ing, cre­at­ing al­bums, or just clear­ing out un­wanted pic­tures.

3. Shared li­braries

A re­cent Pho­tos ad­di­tion that re­ally shows off Google’s ma­chine learn­ing is ‘Share your li­brary’,

which you can ac­cess from the app’s nav­i­ga­tion slide­out menu. You can share your en­tire photo li­brary with some­one else, but there are a num­ber of op­tions that make it a more tar­geted and use­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.

The first step is de­cid­ing which con­tacts you want in­cluded in the share. Once you pick a re­cip­i­ent, the app will ask you to nar­row down your shar­ing pa­ram­e­ters. The de­fault set­ting is ‘All pho­tos’, but you can limit the share to only pho­tos of spe­cific peo­ple – per­fect for par­ents who want to share pho­tos of their kids with other fam­ily mem­bers. Just pick your child’s face from a list of all de­tected faces, and that’s it. You can also set a date from which pho­tos will be shared go­ing for­ward. It can be the cur­rent day or some day in the past.

Your re­cip­i­ents will get in­stant ac­cess to match­ing pho­tos as you take them, and can choose to copy

them into their own li­brary. You can also turn off the shared li­brary at any time.

4. Shar­ing links

When you share a photo in Google Pho­tos, it pops up the stan­dard An­droid share menu. How­ever, there’s a spe­cial op­tion hid­den in there. Tap ‘Cre­ate link’, and you in­stantly cre­ate an al­bum that can be shared with any­one. This works with mul­ti­ple images, and there’s also a tog­gle to al­low oth­ers to add pho­tos to the al­bum at that link.

The link is copied to your clipboard, so you can send it to any app you want. Only those with ac­cess to the link will be able to see the al­bum. Should you ever want to dis­con­tinue ac­cess to that shared im­age or images, just head over the shared tab in the Pho­tos app. Your links are shown here, along­side reg­u­lar al­bums. Tap on the link and use Menu > Delete. This

is also where you can add more images to your shared link, if you so choose.

5. Ar­chiv­ing pho­tos

Google Pho­tos up­loads every­thing, and some­times you don’t want all the stuff it backs up to be in the main feed. That doesn’t mean you want to delete it, though. That’s why ar­chiv­ing was added.

To ar­chive pho­tos, open them or se­lect mul­ti­ple images at once us­ing the quick-se­lect trick ex­plained above. Then, go to Menu > Ar­chive. Archived pho­tos will re­main in your pri­vate ar­chive, ac­ces­si­ble via the nav­i­ga­tion menu. Archived images are kept in any shared al­bums, but they won’t clut­ter up your main feed. This is great for screen­shots and images of re­ceipts. Google Pho­tos had been get­ting plenty of at­ten­tion be­cause it’s the per­fect place to show off ma­chine learn­ing. That means we’ll prob­a­bly see new in­no­va­tions on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. These tips are only the be­gin­ning.

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