Side-by-side comparison: Photo management in iOS 10 versus Android

Graphic: Google Photos v iOS 10

Back in the day, when I went anywhere photo-worthy, I had to bring this thing called a camera. Then, I’d get a roll of film printed—inevitably some of the photos would be total garbage.

Hello, 2016. I don’t think anyone could have predicted how much digital and smartphone photography would impact culture and technology. But here we are, with powerful cameras in our pockets for capturing all of life’s moments from the beauty of a newborn to the tragedies arising from excessive police force.

The modern problem is less of “I spent too much money printing garbage photos” and more of “oh my goodness, did I really need to take 7 photos of my brunch plate? Who has time to go through and delete all these?!” Thankfully, modern smartphone technology is making photo management a little easier.

When Apple launched its newest iPhone software, iOS 10, it made some vast improvements to its photo management tool, the native Photos app that comes on any new iPhone. Google Photos for Android has been ahead of the curve for some time now.

If photography is an important part of how you choose your smartphone, here’s a handy side-by-side comparison of the platforms’ capabilities:

Feature comparison

Feature Google Photos iOS 10 Photos
Auto-organizing Yes. Photos are grouped by people, places or things (a grouping based on what’’s in the photo, like bridges, sunsets or dogs) with incredible accuracy. Very comparable to Google Photos. Photos are grouped by location and timeframe. They also are grouped by who is in them. This type of organization is called ““People.””
Location tagging Done very well——but you wouldn’’t expect anything less from the creator of Google Maps. If you spend a period of time outside of your normal whereabouts, photos are automatically grouped into a trip. You’’ll get a notification when your album is complete. Check. It might even edge out Android’’s capabilities for location tagging. Similar to Google Photos, iOS 10 uses location-based data to automatically organize your photos. The coolest thing is you can view your photos by location on a map. Photo Albums now include a feature called “”Memories.”” Memories are automatically generated slideshows with photos from a particular experience.
Facial recognition Amazing. As Daniela Hernandez of Fusion says, “The app sees individuals in photos even if they are barely in the picture, far in the background, or featured in a photo within a photo. When I did a search for my adult sister’’s face, it recognized her in a photo I took of a 20-year-old elementary school picture of her.” Amazing and takes privacy into consideration. As iPhone Hacks reports, “None of your private data is going anywhere. All the scanning and identification happens on the device itself.” You can create “favorites” by assigning names to people and search by those names.
Editing Nothing fancy, but certainly adequate for the casual photographer. Most all the basics are in there, like rotation, cropping, tuning exposure and so on. No drawing or text overlay features, though. Very comparable to Android photo-editing capabilities with an added bonus. You can do all the common photo editing functions—cropping, adjusting brightness, etc—plus more modern photo-sharing modification features, like drawing or adding text.
Back up to the cloud Unlimited. Google promises unlimited, free photo storage. The caveat is that images larger than 16MB will be compressed, unless you opt to store them on Google Drive. Your first 15GB on Drive are free. Suboptimal. All photos are automatically synced to iCloud, free of charge, for up to 5GB. That’’s about 1,700 photos. “”People”” (facial recognition organization) does not sync to the cloud at this time.
Search Darn near perfect, which is as expected from the king/queen of search engines. Find people, places, things and types (e.g. animated gifs) with ease. Very advanced. You can search by location, time period, “People” or what the photo contains. CNET writes, “according to Apple, each photo undergoes 11 billion computations in order to identify just what a photo contains.”
High resolution* Yes, up to a certain point. You can shoot photos as large as 16MB, which is pretty large. Even higher resolution than Google Photos offers. You can shoot RAW, which means that your phone doesn’’t compress all the image data and picks up on the tiny details. Use sparingly though as storage space will go quickly. For example, a typical 2MB photo is 12-16MB when shot RAW.

*Ability to shoot hi-res depends on the quality of the phone camera itself.

So to sum it up, Google Photos is great for syncing to the cloud and storing a lot of photos. iOS 10 offers slightly superior editing tools and image resolution for social media lovers or advanced photographers. Overall, Google Photos and iOS 10 photos are comparable, and both are undeniably impressive technologies.