When it comes to storage, enough is never enough. This holds true for all aspects of modern file sizes. Everything, from video games to music files, increase in size every year. As resolutions and fidelity increase, so too must the space they take up. No longer is a 256 MB SD card enough for most devices. In the case of smartphones, it seems that file storage just lost its last remaining bastion of free, unlimited storage. That’s right, Google Photos will no longer have free, unlimited storage as of next year.
The news came as a sudden shock to hundreds of millions of users worldwide. Since the launch of Android smartphones, Google Photos stood out as the only major free option. Now, the company has chosen to revise its strategy. Effective June 1, 2020, you will be capped at 15 GB of free, high quality storage. After that, a monthly subscription is required for more storage.
The company specified the exact parameters of the new Google One policy, emphasizing that 15 GB is still a lot
Google knew the backlash to such an announcement would come immediately. After all, it was the only company to trust with high resolution (compressed to save data), free and unlimited storage. Android users worldwide never needed to worry about backups or low storage space. Every picture or video they saved onto their device would just go into the cloud, and that was that. Now, however, Google justified the storage cap (which always existed for ‘original quality’) by stating that over 80% of users could last on 15 GB for uptil 3 years.
In addition to this, other staple Google services will go to a cap as well. Apps like Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and the rest will also get caps. Google justified all of these changes by pointing out that its caps remain higher than competing services. The only people exempt from these costs will be Pixel phone owners, just a perk for brand loyalty.
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What may prove worrying is Google’s confirmation that it would delete data from inactive accounts
With the way Google Photos currently works, you can scroll all the way down across several years and find items. It doesn’t matter how long you were offline, everything is available free of cost, immediately. However, this new paywall begs the question: what happens to your old data when you can’t pay?
To ease some rising worries, Google clarified that all old data within the cap would remain safe. However, seeing as they manage countless amounts of data daily, all of these policies become necessary to sustain the business. Thus, they decided to delete the data, and free up space, for users who were chronically inactive. Before this measure is taken, they assure that several notifications and warnings will reach their inboxes.
This means that if users want to preserve their data, regular logins are essential
Google also went ahead and defended its deletion policy. It stated that the duration of warnings and leniency would happen fairly. Furthermore, it specified that the time limit for inactivity was 2 years, which is ample.
As over 2.5 billion people use Android phones, the news comes as bittersweet. While it may be understandable that the sheer amount of data Google stores is too high to manage, the introduction of a paywall may not be. The introduction of the new ‘time instead of GB’s” feature (whereby the app estimates how much longer your cap has, rather than just numbers) is nifty, based on personalized usage estimates. And it does prove, in most cases, that many won’t hit the cap for years.
For more on Google and the latest developments, stay tuned!