Saturday, 3 August 2013

Google+ Photos: An Offline App to Replace Your Gallery

Image from
Earlier this week I had a conversation via Hangouts with my mum and sister, both users of Google+ since I talked them into it. We were talking about our photos, in particular the ones we had taken on our vacation in India last month. (It was awesome, by the way!) During the conversation, my mum asked a peculiar question, which was, 'Can I view our Google+ photos offline?'

In our modern, super fast internet world, this question had never come up in my mind. At home and work I have a fast wireless network. But when I heard this question I immediately felt the value that we could harvest from this app. This 'Google+ Photos' app.

Let me talk about two services where their value propositions offer great user experiences - values that a Google+ Photos app would bring to Google+.

Spotify Premium

When you have a phone or iPod Touch that you use as your primary music device, Spotify Premium's download option is indispensable. Even though I exist in my wireless networks most of the time, having my favourite playlists and albums on my device all the time gives me the comfort that wherever I am, I can listen. Shouldn't this be the same with photo albums? It's an even bigger issue for photo albums actually, because a lot of the time you want to get them out you are showing them to other people, when you're in other places. You just want them to open and be displayed - no one wants to sign into their friend's WiFi just to show a few quick snaps.


Of course, the above point seems ridiculous when the photos are actually stored on your device anyway. Often times you took the pictures on your phone, so you just open your phone gallery. Firstly however, this isn't always the case. If you use another camera, you still want to reach those albums, and they won't be on your phone unless you download them. Dropbox is a cloud service that does file backup in an intimate and close way on your computer - it acts like a local folder. On a Mac or on a Windows device, Dropbox creates a folder that feels at home and comfortable to use. Why should you have a gallery app here, and Photos in this other app over there? Google+ Photos should bring you the feeling of your albums and memories being local, while utilising the cloud too. Think about an app that retrieves +1s and comments when connected, and keeps them even when offline. The key value of DropBox is that it makes you forget about the difference between your machine and the cloud.

So, Google+ Photos. In my vision I see a separate app, to replace your gallery app, where when connected you can view albums and pictures shared with you and shared by you. When you come across albums you love and want to keep local, you select an option to do so, just like you can on Spotify. It doesn't download these files into some abstract folder on your device, but like Spotify, it simply marks them as available offline, and like DropBox, you can forget about the difference between cloud and local.