The far flung corners of the world
As mentioned in a previous post, I’m married to a Malaysian, and every few years we take the long flight to see family in Kuala Lumpur. When I’m not there, we stay in touch via the usual channels, namely email and Skype.
I also have family in England – my brother, his wife and daughter live in London. We keep in touch in the same way.
Just over a year ago, I became a daddy. Like any doting dad, I have hundreds of photos of my son which I show to friends and family. I do this mostly with the photo sharing service provided by Google+.
I decided to write this post after showing a Polish friend of mine how to set photo sharing up.
I’m amazed – it’s such a brilliant (and free!) service, yet so few people I know use it. People who could make great use of it too.
I have friends all over the world that are far from home and family, and quite a few of them have become parents for the first time in recent years.
Time to set things right.
It starts with a GMail account
“Nobody uses Google+” is a phrase you’ll often hear (and part of the reason I’m writing this post). The thing is, if you have GMail account, then you already have a Google+ account – it uses the same username and password as your GMail. If you have an Android phone, then you definitely have a GMail account, and by extension a Google+ account!
If you don’t have GMail, create a new account and we’ll continue. I’d advise you to create GMail accounts for anyone you want to share photos with if they don’t have one already.
Circle of Friends
Google+ works just like Facebook in that I have a list of friends that I share status updates and media with. However, Google+ allows me to conveniently organise friends into groups (e.g. “Family”, “Work Friends”, “Club teammates”). These groups are called “Circles”, and friends can be a member of as many or as few of these as you’d like:
If I post photos on Facebook, there’s no convenient option to post to some people but not others (convenient being the important word here). Herein lies the difference – Google+ makes it very easy for me to share photos of my son to family and family alone. It’s like my own private network. Let’s run through an example. We’ll start with uploading photos, and then move on to how to share them.
Uploading to Google+ from the desktop
Let’s start by uploading pictures to Google+. Sign into your account, and go to Photos:
Click on “Upload Photos” to start uploading from your computer:
Alternatively, if you already use Google Drive, go to Settings, and then select “Show Drive photos and videos in your photos library”:
Uploading from Mobile
We start by creating an album. Here’s a selection of photos I have uploaded from a trip to Singapore Zoo:
I want to create an album with a selection (i.e. not all) of these photos. I click and hold on the first photo I want to add (hold to enable select mode), then click on the others I want to add:
I click the “Copy” link at the top of the page to show the album dialog:
I give the album the name “Big Cats”, and click “Copy”. From the photos screen, I then select More > Albums:
And I can see my new album:
Clicking on it will show me the contents:
Clicking on “Share” launches the “Share” dialog:
Select which circle you wish to share the album with and click the “Share” button. That’s it.
The mobile app has the same process – select photos, copy to album, share album:
Convince me of the Benefits
Okay, now we know the how, but do we know the why? From my own experience, there are many benefits here.
Firstly, all my family have the Google+ mobile app. When anyone shares an album, everyone else gets an instant notification that there are new photos to see. I can post a picture and minutes later receive comments from family anywhere in the world. It keeps us all closer together, and my Malaysian family have watched my son grow from a newborn to the toddler he is today.
Secondly, my photos are backed up in the cloud should I ever lose my phone, computer, USB stick, SD card… I smashed the screen on my Nexus 4 last year, and as part of the repair, the device was wiped (factory reset). Whilst I lost my Candy Crush progress, I didn’t lose a single photo.
Lastly, both the app and the desktop site have some pretty nifty tools for photo editing, not to mention Google’s many Auto-Awesome features (which are worth a blog post on their own!).
There are other photo sharing alternatives out there – Facebook does allow you to share to specific friends only, but personally I don’t think it’s very intuitive. Dropbox does allow you to backup and share photos, but Google Drive / Google+ gives you more space for less and more fine grain control on exactly who you share your content with.
Back in the old days, we’d send emails with lots of photo attachments that took too long to send, never mind downloading and viewing at the other side! Is this still a viable alternative? Are you reading this and thinking “that’s what I’m doing at the moment”?
Google+. Try it. You might like it…