Google PhotosWhile we’ve got Google Plus integration, Picasa (if it’s still around), and a Drive option for photos, Google Photos has been released as its own thing, which might surprise some of you that it wasn’t.

The deal for free is complete full sized photos up to 16MP, full video up to 1080p, and higher than that and it uses some proprietary Google Magic to compress the things into slightly more compressed versions that look basically the same to the average human.

Google PhotosOr if you want, you can store photo data completely uncompressed using your Google Drive storage, and there are options that let you edit with the tools that were formerly probably only available to Google Plus users.

If you’re worried about what the compression will look like, here’s what Google claims. Click it to expand.

Google Photos compression

What’s really cool, however, is the ability that it has to recognize people and things (I realize Facebook has been creepily doing this for several years now). Clicking search on the web version gives you a series of photos of the people who appear most in your library.

Clicking their photos will bring about tons of photos of them. I was a little leary at first because I thought I might have tagged some of these to give it clues, but I never tagged my daughter and it picked up probably 70% of the photos she’s in with no effort.

I find this impressive since when she was born she looked like a Polynesian baby and has a face that looks nothing like it did a year and a half ago.

It also does well at figuring out things. I’m looking at the list of things it’s found, among them are food, cats, sky, flowers, fires, parks, weddings, picnics, statues, beer, and baseball. It did pretty meh on matching statues, it’s convinced a HMDX Jam and Natty Light are beers, but overall it’s got down cat-identifying technology to a tee.

If you had on location tagging in your photos it also will let you sort by where they were taken. I’m betting the Google being the Google it will also match up non-geotagged photos with your location history as it’s able to piece it together to appropriately categorize photos by location.

All of your Google Plus Auto Awesomes are there too.

And we crashThere may be a lot of holdovers from the photos apps on Google+, although I stopped using it a while ago. Nothing personal, just you generally use photos where your viewers are, and most of mine are of my kiddo these days, which means they’re going over on the Facebook lossy image disaster hosting for the most part and being edited with whatever photo tool I have on the computer I’m at. 75% of the grandparents don’t have Google+.

If Google will actually store all my photos, it might just rid me of my Carbonite account, which is there to back up the 120 gigs of photos I’ve got these days. I’ll have to see. That may sound like a ridiculous amount, but I’ve got a lot of raw uncompressed photos, and more now with the HTC One M9. That adds up quickly.

For those who’ve liked the Google+ photo handling but hate Google+, this is your moment. There’re some issues with the first release, but it’s Google. I wouldn’t expect there to not be some fun ones right out of the gate. (Left picture shows it crashed, reporting it crashed Google Play Store. Was quite fun. Worked immediately after the crash, however.)

Google Drive has a photos link, although it doesn’t seem to have all the options that photos.google.com has. Google Photos doesn’t seem to have the tagging options that Google+ has. And Google+ now seems to have two ways to deal with photos, one of which involves taking you to Google Photos.

[Google Blog]