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Differences between Google Photos and Photoshop Disappearing

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› Differences between Google Photos and Photoshop Disappearing
  • Published on November 10, 2015

The differences between Google Photos and Photoshop are disappearing, especially on mobile and tablet devices, despite their different origins. Photoshop was originally used primarily for editing images, while Google Photos was used almost exclusively as an online location for storing photos. As Google has unbound Google Photos from their Google Plus social service, and cloud computing capabilities have increased, Google Photos is pushing into territory once held exclusively by Adobe Photoshop. Google’s recently announced acquisition of Fly Labs puts Google Photos more into the territory once dominated by Photoshop. If you are looking to take some Photoshop classes, these choices won't impact you, as these relate primarily to less-capable mobile versions of Photoshop which are used on phones and tablets.

Recent extensions of Google Photos Capabilities

This year Google has launched a completely new version of their Photos app, providing enhanced organization, photo editing, and sharing capabilities. There are versions of a Google Photos app available for iOS and Android devices, with images and videos automatically backed-up to Google’s cloud storage. Google is attempting to make it easier to locate images through the use of artificial intelligence, as images stored in Google Photos are tagged by content and location, or can be manually tagged. Along with these storage capabilities. Google Photos also pushed into areas dominated by Photoshop, with Google Photos adding options for combining still images into animations, merging multiple pictures into a panorama, applying filters, and color correcting. These haven’t been surprising, as Google hired Adobe Photoshop manager John Nack earlier this year, showing their interest in building a more serious photo editing business.

Adobe Photoshop cloud expansion

Just as Google Photos has started to push into Photoshop territory, Adobe has started to expand their Photoshop cloud presence. Earlier this year Adobe acquired online photo editing service Aviary, which provides cloud-based image editing tools primarily to other companies that integrate image editing into their apps. Adobe is re-labeling these new offering as part of the Photoshop family. Adobe also announced new versions of Photoshop tools for iOS and Android which are competing with Google Photos on these platforms.

Google Photos or Photoshop for Editing

The iOS and Android apps of Photoshop and Google Plus both provide comparable retouching for basic image editing. Enhancing colors or removing red-eye can be easily achieved in these applications. For more complex image editing, the Mac or Windows version of Photoshop remains the best option. For significant retouching and manipulation work, the mobile and tablet versions of these apps don’t provide the array of image editing tools that are needed, and only Photoshop offers a full range of capabilities. The full version of Photoshop is a subscription service, requiring a monthly payment to Adobe.

Photoshop or Google Photos for Storage

While both services provide online storage of images, the Google Photos capabilities that work across devices and browsers are more robust. With Google Photos ability to automatically tag and organize images, and more easily share photos, the storage options of Google Photos are better than those available through the Photoshop mobile app.

The bottom-line is that you may find yourself storing photos and performing basic edits using Google Photos, with a subscription to Creative Cloud for any work that requires more significant editing.

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.