Google has announced some upcoming changes to its Google Photos storage policy. In brief, the unlimited free storage of 'high quality' photos will end from 1st June 2021. After that date any photos backed up to the service will count against your Google account quota. Anyone with a Google account gets 15GB of space for free to use as storage across the whole of the Google app and service portfolio. Any existing photo libraries backed up before 1st June will stand as they are.
The free high quality photos backup feature has been part of Google Photos since it launched five years ago. At the current time the service hosts more than four trillion user photos and adds 28 billion photos a week to that tally.
In attempting to explain its change of policy Google says that it needs to invest in the product to keep it viable over the longer term. This means the free option is going out of the window and any uploads after the cut off date of 1st June 2021 will count against your Google account storage quota.
Currently Google provides 15GB of free storage which its customers can use for storage of data from apps like Photos, Google Drive, and so on. Those who need more storage can subscribe to Google One to get more. UK pricing starts from £1.39pcm or £15.99pa for 100GB total storage, through £2.49pcm (£24.99pa) for 200GB, or £7.99pcm (£79.99pa) for 2TB of cloud storage. Other benefits to subscribers include the ability to share the service with five of your family members, q Google Expert help shortcut, and Google Store discounts.
Coinciding with this announcement Google has launched a tool (within Photos) that makes it easier to delete blurry images or old screenshots that you might to want to keep forever. Users will also find a personalized estimate for how long their storage may last based on your app usage history.
Some users will be perturbed about Google's removal of free unlimited high quality photo storage after it being a standard feature for so long. Did it do a bait and switch? I personally switched from Microsoft OneDrive photo storage a few years back after Windows Phone faded out and I'd been on Android for a year or more. Making things possibly a bit worse is that one could easily claim that Google's free service has effectively driven lots of start-ups out of the Photo cloud library market over recent years.
Owners of Pixel smartphones (from the first to current Pixel 5) won't be impacted by the new policy, they will continue to be able to upload unlimited high quality photos and videos to the service without any count against their free or paid storage quotas.