Perhaps in the spirit of the upcoming holidays, Google has announced that its Photos app will allow sharing collaborative photo albums.
While a Google account is necessary in order to be part of a shared album, the app works on Android and iOS devices as well as on the web.
Some basic social features are lacking, but this is a major step in Google’s attempt to compete with Apple’s successful iCloud Photo Sharing
Once an album is created in the app, you can turn it into a “collaborative” album and invite people from your contacts to become contributors.
The invited parties will be asked if they want to join the album and should they accept the album creator will receive a notification. This sounds somewhat similar to a friend request on social media, but sadly that’s where the similarities end.
For the time being the app does not allow commenting on photos or liking them, making the new feature more of a solution for simply sharing photos of one-time events rather than becoming small social network of sorts. I assume it’s a matter of time until these features are added, but for now they seem sorely missing.
That being said, and despite the fact that Apple’s service has had a sharing feature for a while now, the app’s cross-platform functionality makes it a strong contestant. Many families, mine included, don’t all use the same operating system so this is a major advantage over iCloud’s Apple-only sharing solution.
As TIME points out, Photos has an additional two powerful features that are worth taking into account when choosing your next photo app. The first is a brilliant photo-search functionality (it’s not perfect, but still very impressive) and the other is that it offers free and unlimited storage for photos up to 16 megapixels.
The various versions of the Photos app can be downloaded over on Google’s website.