Google Photos Poses Some New Challenges for Instagram, Flickr, and Shutterfly

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Google Photos, the search giant’s photo-sharing app, is being upgraded to help its 500 million active users more easily share digital pictures with family and friends.

Google announced the upgrades at the company’s annual developer conference, Google I/O, on Wednesday.

Google Photos, which premiered at the same developer conference in May 2015, is a photo storage app for Android, iOS, and the web. The app uses machine learning to help users search and find photos more easily. For example, you can search for smiles, and the app will show photos that include people smiling. It also lets users backup an unlimited number of photos and videos to the cloud for free. Google said 1.2 billion photos are being uploaded each day.

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With Wednesday’s upgrade, Google Photos will now suggest people to share photos with based on who is in the photo. Google Photos users will also be able to share their libraries or all photos with designated friends and family members. The feature allows users to specify certain types of photos to be share (such as photos of the family dog) or photos taken after a certain date. When a library of photos is shared with a contact, he or she will get a notifications that photos have been shared, and specify which photos should be added to his or her library.

Google also will now let its Photos users create physical photo books from their photos in the app. The app will suggest photo books based around events, such as vacations. Users will be able to assemble photos by searching for types of photos (for example, photos of kids). Photo books come in soft cover or hard cover, and start at $9.99 per book.

Lastly, Google Photos is also getting an intelligence upgrade with the integration of Google Lens into the app. Announced on Wednesday, Google Lens will recognize images of items and be able to give users additional information about these images. For example, Lens could look at an image of a flower, it will tell users which type of flower they are observing.

“AI is the secret ingredient to Google Photos,” said Google Photo’s vice president, Anil Sabharwal, at the event on Wednesday.

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