I just spent $100 on Google Photos for a ridiculous reason


    The Google Photos app running on a Google Pixel 8 Pro.
    Joe Maring / Digital Trends

    Hi, my name is Joe, and I have a cloud storage problem.

    It all happened this past Saturday. It was a rainy and chilly fall afternoon, I was getting ready to meet up with some friends for drinks, and there I was — sitting at my Mac mini, signing up for a 2TB Google One plan so I could store all of my pictures in Google Photos.

    So far, this doesn’t sound all that bad. But the problem is that I really didn’t need to do this. But I did so anyway, and now I get to share my (potentially) idiotic purchase with all of you.

    Why this purchase was so stupid

    The Google One app running on a Google Pixel 8 Pro.
    Joe Maring / Digital Trends

    Let me be clear: on their own, Google One plans are a really good value. Spending $20 a year gets you 100GB of storage for Google Photos, Google Drive, Gmail, and device backups. You also get dark web monitoring, a VPN, and more editing tools in Google Photos. Spending more money on more expensive plans gets you additional storage and some extra perks.

    I’ve been on the basic 100GB plan for a long time, but on Saturday, I decided it was time to upgrade to the 2TB plan for $100 a year. That’s a big upgrade on its own, but what makes it absurd is that I’m already paying $33 each month for an Apple One Premier plan. That plan gives me 2TB of iCloud storage, and it’s how I’m keeping my 13,000-plus photos and videos backed up to Apple Photos.

    Apple Photos has been a perfectly fine service for housing my digital library, and I really don’t have any qualms with it. But here I am, now signed up for another 2TB storage plan for another place to store my thousands of pictures.

    Why the hell did I do this?

    It’s all the Google Pixel 8 Pro’s fault

    Using the camera app on the Google Pixel 8 Pro.
    Joe Maring / Digital Trends

    The answer is simple: I blame all of this on the Google Pixel 8 Pro.

    I’ve been using the Pixel 8 Pro as one of the phones I carry daily with me (alongside the iPhone 15 Pro Max), and I’ve enjoyed every second with it. The design is lovely, the Tensor G3 processor is surprisingly good, and its Android 14 software is a joy to use. But what’s really kept me hooked to the Pixel 8 Pro is its cameras.

    The Google Pixel 8 Pro takes incredible photos. You can safely expect that any $1,000 phone these days will have high-quality cameras, but something about the Pixel 8 Pro has made it especially fun to shoot with. Maybe it’s because the phone is still new and I’m lingering in the honeymoon phase. But I think the bigger reason is that its cameras really are that damn good.

    This was reinforced over the weekend when I took the Pixel 8 Pro with me to a local cider mill, a pumpkin patch, a couple of bars, and a nature trail. In all of these settings, the phone captured the scenes as well as I could have asked for.

    But it’s not just the quality of the photos after you press the shutter button. I’ve also become surprisingly interested in the Pixel 8 Pro’s various AI editing tools — all of which require that you have your pictures backed up to Google Photos. Best Take has already come in handy a couple of times for some group photos, and while I’m not totally sold on Magic Editor, it’s surprisingly fun to play around with — even if the end result isn’t always great.

    I’m also really looking forward to Zoom Enhance — a Pixel 8 Pro feature that’s “coming later.” In theory, you’ll be able to pinch-to-zoom on any photo backed up to Google Photos and digitally enhance the quality with AI. If it works as well as Google’s demo of the feature, it could be really powerful.

    Whether it’s Best Take, Magic Editor, Zoom Enhance, or other features like Magic Eraser, all of these editing tools work on any picture you have in Google Photos — not just ones you took with the Pixel 8 Pro.

    Google is dragging me in

    Someone holding the blue Pixel 8 Pro outdoors.
    Joe Maring / Digital Trends

    Therein lay my dilemma. I plan on continuing to use the Google Pixel 8 Pro as one of my daily smartphones — and likely my camera of choice for the foreseeable future. I want to have easy access to the photos I take with it alongside my thousands of other images, and I want to mess with Google Photo’s growing editing tools on those years and years of old pictures.

    Because the Pixel 8 Pro’s camera is so good and because Google Photos is suckering me in with its editing suite, I’m now the owner of a 2TB Google One plan despite not really needing one.

    Part of me is looking forward to transferring my Apple Photos library to Google Photos and having two reliable places for all of my pictures, but another part of me dreads the idea of having to manage two separate cloud photo libraries.

    Is there a moral to this story? Is this merely me trying to justify spending $100 I didn’t need to spend? I ultimately think it’s a testament to just how fantastic the Google Pixel camera experience is. From the minute you press the shutter button to the countless edits you can make to your photos afterward, no other phone offers a picture-taking experience like a Google Pixel does. And as someone who places a lot of value in that, I think my $100 may have been well spent.

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