[Updated] Google Photos Will End Free Unlimited Storage for Most Users

A Nest Hub on a living room end table, showing pictures of dogs.
Josh Hendrickson

One of the best features of the Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max is the ambient screen that uses your downloaded Google photos to create beautiful collages. This was made possible by uploading an unlimited number of “high quality” photos to the service. But Google is end this deal for everyone but Pixel phone users on June 1, 2021.

Update, 12/11/20: As noted below, only original Pixels via Pixel 5 are exempt from this new change. Google now has confirmed to Android police that future Pixel phones will not share the exemption, and photos downloaded from those phones will count towards the new limits.

The original report is left intact below.

According to Google, users have already uploaded more than 4 trillion photos to Google Photos, and every week, users add 28 billion new images. To say that users have come to rely on the service is probably an understatement.

That’s why it “may be surprising” (to quote Google) that the company is ending its free unlimited storage program. In a blog post, the company said it was taking the initiative to “keep pace with growing demand for storage.”

As of June 1, 2021, any photos you upload to Google Photos will count towards your overall storage limits. This limit, shared on Google Drive, Gmail and Photos, is only 15 GB at the free level. If you go over that, you’ll have to pay for more storage space.

The good news is that any photos you already uploaded before June 1, 2021 will not count towards the new limit. It’s only photos uploaded after that end date that will remove your 15GB threshold. And anyone with a Pixel phone, from the original Pixel to the Pixel 5, is exempt from the change. Google did not say whether this exemption would apply to future Pixel phones.

** Update, as we suspected, future Pixel phones will not be exempt from the new storage limit.

Google says it will roll out new tools when the changes come in so you can manage your photos and remove bad ones with ease. This way you don’t have a blurry mess of an image taking up valuable space. And of course, you can pay to increase your storage limit. A 2TB plan is $ 100 per year if you pay in advance.

This change is a big disappointment to anyone who has come to rely on Nest Display ambient screens for great photos. But given the high cost of storing trillions of images, that might not come as a total surprise.

Source: Google

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