How to make Google Photos more awesome!

I’ve been using Google Photos to upload over a decade’s worth of photos that have been piling up on my external hard drive.

Things I love about Google Photos

  1. Not having to live in constant fear of losing my photos.
  2. It works with videos!
  3. The “Creations” feature is spectacular! (And it works with videos too!)
  4. The automatic tagging and categorization (people, places and things) is very useful (and funny in its failures).

Things I wish Google Photos did

  1. Scrolling bug: Please fix heisenbug where, after going in an album, scrolling down to find a photo, clicking and viewing that photo and finally clicking the “Back to album” button, the UI doesn’t always bring you back to the original photo you clicked on in the album. At times, the UI scrolls back to the top of the album. Scrolling back down through hundreds of photos to return to the original clicked-on photo can be very frustrating.
  2. “Add to album” button: Please add an “Add to album” button when viewing a picture. This would allow users to easily add the picture to additional albums. This button should also be displayed when viewing pictures from “Shared links.” I needed a button like this when I was filtering old family pictures and copying them into a new album.
  3. Rotating pictures: Please add a shortcut to rotate photos. Rotating a photo shouldn’t take 5 clicks.
  4. Navigation after editing photos: Please improve it. After editing a photo (say cropping and rotating) and saving a copy of it, the new photo is stored at the end of the album and the UI displays it. However, the user cannot easily resume seeing the next photo because the UI takes him to see the edited photo which is at the end of the album. The user has to click the “Back to album” button, scroll through hundreds of photos, find the original photo he edited and resume viewing.
  5. Page Up/Down navigation: Please make this work. Right now, the user has to click on the white background and only then Page Up and Page Down navigation works.
  6. Lost uploads: Please don’t lose your users’ videos. I once tried uploading a VOB video file. It finished uploading so I created an album and waited for the file to finish “processing”. After a while I noticed my album was empty and the uploaded video was missing. That VOB file in particular had some problems, so I assume the encoding failed on Google’s servers which triggered the deletion of the video. However, it seems like the user should be informed about these kinds of failures. One can imagine users who upload videos in bulk and think their videos are safe online once they’re uploaded. They will be very surprised to find them missing later. Especially after having deleted the originals. This brings up a bigger problem…
  7. Displaying errors to the user: Please do this. For instance, I was editing the descriptions of some videos. I was doing this in “batch mode”: edit, save, go to next picture, repeat. After thinking I’ve successfully edited the descriptions, I saw a generic error message saying “trouble changing description”. I was surprised to see some of my edits did not go through. This was frustrating. If errors are going to occur later in the process (which is understandable with video encoding, but not with changing simple descriptions), please have an “Errors” panel where users can follow up on the error(s) and take action (re-edit the description, reupload the video, etc.). Otherwise, users will be fooled into thinking they successfully edited all descriptions or uploaded all their videos and find out 2 years later that they didn’t.
  8. Deleting a photo: Please let users delete a photo when selecting it in an album. The only option is to remove it from the album, but not delete it permanently. To delete a photo or a set of photos, users are forced to go to “Photos” and find it amongst thousands of photos. The situation gets worse when multiple photos need to be deleted and these photos are interleaved through thousands of other photos. Using the “Search” feature doesn’t solve this problem when the user is viewing photos in an album and wants to quickly delete a photo.
  9. Editing the dates: Please let users edit the date of movies and photos after uploading them. It is hard for users to change the date of a movie file, as there are many formats and very few tools. For photos it’s easier, but still a hassle. If a user uploads a photo with the wrong date, he has to delete it and to reupload it after manually editing the photo’s date (if he’s a power-user).
  10. Navigation bug after editing a story’s title: Please remember the “Collections” filter when the user returns after editing a story’s title. This bug occurs after enabling the “Stories” filter, then clicking on a story, changing its title and returning to the “Stories” using the back button. The UI forgets that the “Stories” filter was applied and it displays all collections.
  11. Finding stories (not albums) by name: Please enable this, or if it’s enabled, tell users how to do it.
  12. Displaying the type of an album: Please add icons to each album when scrolling through “Collections” that indicate the album’s type: photo / video / photo & video. This would make finding certain albums easier.

Useful features in Google Photos

  1. You can delete recently uploaded photos, by going into the “Search” bar, clicking on “Recently added” and selecting the photos you want to delete.
Written on July 31, 2015