Google is rapidly pushing cloud storage into commodity territory with a new Photos app that gives users unlimited photo storage for images with a resolution of 16-megapixels and under. The app was announced at Google’s I/O developer conference.
Photographers shooting images at higher resolutions can opt to have Google automatically resize their images to stay in the free tier or to use Google’s existing paid storage plans for their digital negatives. Google plans start at $2/month for 100GB and $10/month for 1TB.
Videos can also be stored on the photos app. The free tier supports video resolutions up to 1080p. Videos recorded at a higher resolution will either be down-converted by Google to stay in the free tier, or you can opt to store the original file in Google’s fee-based storage service.
The new Photos app is largely aimed at consumers who have photos dispersed chaotically among a growing number of devices. The app will automatically and, Google claims, intelligently, organize images based on their contents. It will also synchronize images across devices.
Several photo features from Google+, like automatic image enhancement and collage creation, are also available in Photos.
Google Photos is available now for iOS and Android devices. It’s also available through web browsers. For more insights into Google Photos, check out Steven Levy’s interview with Bradley Horowitz, Google’s head of Streams, Photos and Sharing.
Google is also pushing its Cardboard virtual reality solution to Apple devices. Cardboard is an inexpensive, open-source virtual reality headset (literally made from cardboard) that uses mobile phones as the display. It’s a lower-cost alternative to high-powered gaming headsets like the Oculus Rift and Google told I/O attendees that more than 1 million Cardboard headsets were currently in consumer’s hands (or is that heads?).
To achieve an immersive effect, videos need to be played in an specialized app. Besides bringing its Cardboard-ready apps to iOS, Google said that 360-degree YouTube videos would also be playable in Cardboard headsets.
To jumpstart 360-degree video creation, Google is partnering with GoPro on a 16-camera rig called the Jump (which is different than the virtual reality rig that GoPro revealed earlier this week). Using the rig and the Jump Assembler software, videographers will be able to capture and stitch together video that can be viewable in any Google Cardboard app, including YouTube. The Jump VR rig is due in the fall.
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