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6 ways to make the most of Google Photos for Android and iOS

Ben Patterson | Aug. 11, 2015
So long, Google+ Photos, and a big hello to Google Photos. What's the difference, besides the missing plus sign? Plenty, as it turns out.

Still, the ability search for anything in your Google Photos albums is intriguing, and I'm hoping it will improve over time.

Bonus tip: When you tap the search box, a series of suggestions based on people, places, and things in your photos will appear just below the search box.

2. Take charge of (or dismiss) the Assistant

By default, Google Photos will start backing up your photos (just over Wi-Fi, unless you specify otherwise) and creating collages, animations (kind of like digital flipbooks of a quick burst of photos), "stories" (events based on, say, a group of photos taken at a single location) and other so-called "collections" all on its own.

All these photo-management duties are handled by the Assistant, a Google Now-type digital secretary that proactively suggests new photo collections.

Tap the menu button in the top-left corner of the screen and select Assistant to check out the suggested collections the Assistant has created for you. If there's a collection you don't like, just swipe it away. Tap Save to library to keep a collection you like.

If the Assistant is doing little more than bug you, silence its suggestions by tapping Menu > Settings, then toggling the "Suggest new creations" switch.

3. Make an instant collage, animation, album or story

You don't have to wait for the Assistant to suggest a cool photo collage or animation. Instead, create your own on-the-fly collections using any photos you choose.

Just select up to nine images (tap the three-dot button in the top-right corner of the screen, then tap Select), tap the + button, then pick an option: Album, Movie, Story, Animation, or Collage.

For example, tap Collage, and Google Photos will have your collage ready in a matter of seconds. Tap Edit at the bottom of the screen to crop, rotate, tweak the color, or add a filter to your collage. (No, you can't rearrange the individual photos in the collage.)

If you tap Story instead of Collage, Google Photos will create an instant photo book based on the images you selected, complete with an animated cover page, a self-generated title ("Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn" was the one I got for group of Mother's Day brunch snapshots), and even a nifty map pinpointing the location of the event. Neat--and yes, you can edit everything from the title of the story to the captions and map locations.

4. Tap, hold and swipe to select a batch of images

Creating instant collages and stories starts with selecting a series of images, but having to tap the three-dot button followed by Select can be something of a pain. Luckily, there's an easier way.

Here's the trick: Tap and hold an image you'd like to select, then drag your fingertip one way or another to select nearby images. You can also scroll and tap more images anywhere in your collection.


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