Google is known for having many apps that do pretty much the same things. Just a few days ago, Google launched the Google Tasks app for creating tasks, the feature is already in Google Keep. And let’s not even talk about Google chat apps.
I’m sure you’ve heard at least once about the similarities between the two apps from Google – Photos and Drive (when it comes to storing photos). Both photos and videos sync and that’s the cause of the confusion.
So which one should you use? And why? All your queries will be answered in this Google Photos vs Google Drive comparison. Let’s dive in!
Supported file types
Google Photos is a photo gallery app on activators and Google Drive is a cloud storage and backup service for files like PDF, ZIP, photos, and videos.
If Google Photos is installed on your device, it will immediately display the photos and videos taken from the phone’s camera. Similar to other gallery apps, it allows you to view photos in other device folders as well. It supports three types of media files – photos, videos, and GIFs.
It is not necessary to back up and sync your photos to Google Photos to view them on a single device. However, when sync is enabled, you can view it on multiple devices.
On the other hand, Google Drive is a powerful cloud storage service where you have to add files manually. It’s empty unless you add things to it. You can add any type of file like PDF, ZIP, MP3, MP4, JPG, PNG, etc.
Photos taken from your smartphone camera or photos on your mobile device will not be automatically reflected in Google Drive as they are with Google Photos. Likewise, other device files will not be added to Drive automatically.
The user interface of Google Photos is quite similar to the gallery apps. On the first screen, you are greeted with camera images. Device folders can be accessed from the navigation drawer or from the Albums tab at the bottom, where other Google Photos albums are located as well.
Likewise, the user interface of Google Drive is similar to other file backup services or even file managers. On the first screen, you will see different folders and files under the Quick Access row. To view the images, you have to go to the respective folder.
While Google Photos displays photos on the device in its own folders, you cannot move or copy photos between these folders directly. You will need a file manager to do this if there are folders on the device. However, you can transfer files in case of synced albums. Moreover, it does not support hierarchy.
On the other hand, Google Drive offers more organization. It supports hierarchy and lets you organize your files into different folders. You can copy or move files between folders directly from Drive itself.
Another important area in which Google Drive and Photos differ is in the case of storage. Google offers unlimited storage in the case of Google Photos. However, there is a condition.
Google will compress and save the images at 16 megapixels. In the case of videos, they will be compressed to 1080p. This is known as high quality mode. For the average user, 16 megapixels is more than enough. But if you are a professional photographer, the pressure may lose quality.
If you want to upload media in its original quality, Google offers 15GB of free space. This space is shared across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos. If you choose the original quality mode, media less than 15 GB will be considered.
Likewise, any photo/video you add in Drive will be charged for the same 15 GB. There are no separate quality modes here. However, you can manually lower the quality if you wish, and then upload it to Google Drive. Once the 15 GB capacity expires, you can purchase additional storage space. You can check your Google storage here.
Note: Adding photos in high quality mode in Google Photos will not count toward storage usage.
Editing the picture
Google Photos comes with basic editing features like crop and rotate. You can also create collages and apply filters.
Google Photos comes with a video editor as well. You can create movies and animations from your photos. Google Drive does not include a photo or video editor.
If you have Google Drive installed on your phone, you don’t need a third-party app to scan documents, receipts, or photos, it comes with a built-in ability to do so.
While Google Photos also supports image scanning, you have to download the PhotoScan app from Google to do so.
Interestingly enough, Google Photos comes with a cool feature known as Google Lens. It’s an image search engine for your phone, powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. When you click the Lens button in Google Photos, it identifies the object in the photo and displays the information related to it.
For example, clicking the lens button for a flower in Google Photos will select the flower and give us more information about it. Lens of course isn’t just about flowers, it can do many other cool things including identifying addresses and phone numbers in photos. Google Drive does not support Lens but it does support OCR.
Both services allow you to share and collaborate with others. But there are some differences. While in Google Drive you can collaborate with multiple people, in Google Photos you can share constantly with only one person. You must add a partner account to start sharing a set of photos with a group of people.
Which one do you use?
Both services use your Google account to sync data and are available across platforms. While Google Photos is limited to photos and videos, it offers everything you could ask for from an image viewer and editor. It also provides unlimited storage for compressed media. If you’re OK with that, nothing can beat Google Photos.
But if you want more organization and backup for multiple file types, and don’t care too much about displaying your gallery, you should switch to Google Drive. However, keep in mind that you will likely end up buying storage space because Drive does not have a free compressed storage option for photos.