Which Cloud Storage Is Best?

Google Photos vs Apple Photos
Jason Montoya / Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

Google Photos and Apple iCloud Photos are two of the best options for backing up and syncing photos from your phone to the cloud. And they can be used on both iPhone and Android. But which one is the best?

Availability

Perhaps the most important thing to consider when choosing a service is where you’ll be able to use it. In many cases, the Google service is available everywhere, and Apple’s service is limited to Apple devices. That’s not quite the case with iCloud Photos.

iCloud’s web interface allows you to browse, upload, and somewhat manage your photos and videos from a web browser. That means you can technically use it on an Android device, too. However, this is a pretty barebones experience. Automatic syncing, editing tools, shared albums, and even search functionality is limited to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps.

Google Photos, like many Google services, is available on most devices. There are apps for the iPhone, iPad, Android, and even iMessage integration. The automatic backup feature works on all of these devices. In addition, you can access most features from a web browser.

Note: For the remainder of this comparison, we’ll be talking about Apple Photos features that are available on Apple devices.

Winner: Google Photos

RELATED: How to View iCloud Photos Online

Sharing Features

Sharing and collaboration have become among the best reasons for using a cloud photo service. Both Google Photos and Apple Photos offer a variety of sharing features.

Google and Apple both have “Shared Albums” that multiple people can contribute to. Google takes it a step further with a bevy of automatic features. For example, it can detect people or pets in photos and automatically share them to albums or other users for you. Apple’s Shared Albums need to be manually curated.

Both services also allow you to share photos directly with other users and create links that can be sent to people who might not have Google or Apple accounts. Of course, you have the option to share photos through other apps from both services as well.

Google’s advanced sharing features are essentially unrivaled. If you’re comfortable with Google scanning your photos to detect people and pets, it’s really hard to beat the automatic sharing features.

Winner: Google Photos

RELATED: Using Google Photos? Here’s Why Partner Sharing Is Essential

Editing Tools

Google Magic Eraser on Pixel 6.
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

With both Google Photos and Apple Photos, you can do a lot of editing without needing a dedicated photo editing app. In a similar story to the sharing features, Google leans on automatic edits, while Apple requires more manual tweaking.

When you tap the edit button in Google Photos, you’re immediately greeted with a few one-click edits that you can use to quickly adjust the look of the photos. After that, you can manually tweak the adjustments if you want. In addition, Google Photos has some awesome tools such as “Magic Eraser” and “Unblur,” but these are paywalled behind Google One for some devices.

Apple Photos’ editing features are more typical. There are Instagram-like filters—which Google Photos also has—and a bunch of manual adjustments you can make with sliders. However, one really cool thing that Apple Photos can do is isolate subjects from the background. This functionality is used for lighting effects as well.

Google’s automatic editing tools and “Magic Eraser” feature are very impressive. Apple Photos can do some impressive things too, but it doesn’t quite have the “wow” factor that some of Google’s tools provide.

Winner: Google Photos

RELATED: How to Use Google’s Magic Eraser on Android and iPhone

Search & Organization

Searching for "cats" in the iPhone Photos app

When you have hundreds—if not thousands—of photos and videos stored in the cloud, finding a specific one can be difficult. Google Photos and Apple Photos both offer a variety of smart search and organization features.

With both services, you can do a search for something like ” flower” and see all photos and videos that contain flowers. It also works for people, pets, and locations. Google does a slightly better job at this—it is Google, after all—but the two are pretty close.

In terms of organization, this is also a close competition. You can create albums, filter by dates, automatically sort screenshots, videos, and other media types, and favorite photos and videos for easy finding. Both also can present old photos and similar photos as “Memories” slideshows.

Winner: Tie

RELATED: How to Search Your iPhone Photos Like a Pro

Upload Quality, Storage & Pricing

Since both Google Photos and Apple Photos are cloud storage services at the core, upload quality is an important consideration. iCloud Photos are stored in their original formats and full resolution. Google lets you decide which resolution you’d like to use—original quality or lower quality “Storage Saver.” The days of free “high quality” storage are over.

All of these photos and videos take up storage, so let’s talk about that. Everyone with an iCloud account gets 5GB of storage for free. Google gives everyone 15GB for free, but this does include all of the Google services you use—including Gmail—not just Google Photos.

Google One storage pricing starts at $19.99 per year for 100GB, $29 for 200GB, $99 for 2TB, $249 for 5TB, and then a few “Premium” plans leading up to a whopping 30TB for additional monthly fees. iCloud+ starts at $0.99 per month for 50GB, $2.99 for 200GB, and $9.99 for 2TB.

Theoretically, you could store more photos on iCloud+ with the same amount of storage as Google One since it doesn’t count so many other services toward the allotment. Google’s pricing is slightly cheaper, but the two are very comparable.

Winner: Tie


Google Photos is even fantastic and possibly the company’s best product. Despite that, it didn’t sweep our comparison here. Apple Photos with iCloud is a very competent service with many features rivaling Google Photos. Ultimately, though, Google does have an edge on availability, sharing, and editing—so another round of comparisons goes to Google.

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