Just four months after launch, Google is already saying goodbye to its most baffling Google Photos service.
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At the end of this month, Google is ending its automatic photo printing subscription service. This February, selected US-based Google Photos users were invited to join a trial service that each month automatically selects and delivers ten of their best photos in the form of physical prints.
The free trial was due to be replaced by a $7.99 monthly subscription on July 1 2020. However, according to a report in Droid Life, Google has now sent out an email to subscribers explaining that the service is now to be discontinued on June 30.
Google’s cancellation email reads:
“Thank you for your invaluable feedback these last several months. You have provided us with a lot of helpful information about how we can evolve this feature, which we hope to make more widely available. Please keep your eyes open for future updates.
Although we will be ending the trial program, we hope that you have experienced some joy from the prints you received along the way.”
The failure of the trial comes as no surprise as it suffers from three significant drawbacks.
- It offers users only rudimentary control over the kinds of photos they want to receive. You can’t just go in and pick the photos you want, and Google’s automatic selections can be a bit hit and miss.
- Choice is limited to the categories, ‘‘Mostly people and pets’, ‘Mostly landscape’ or ‘A little bit of everything’. However, some users reported having to switch out selections manually to avoid receiving seemingly random, mundane images or poor photos where the subjects weren’t looking at the camera.
- Most importantly, although it hasn’t survived long enough to turn into a paid subscription, the service was priced significantly higher than high-street alternatives which typically charge circa $0.23 per print (excluding delivery). This monthly financial commitment is also especially hard to justify at a time when finances are stretched and people are taking fewer noteworthy photos due to COVID-19 restrictions. The ten ‘best’ photos of the month might often not be worth printing.
Google’s planned evolution of the service will require significant changes if it is to become a compelling offering. I appreciate the appeal of a ‘surprise’ selection of well-chosen photos, but not at the significant price premium Google charges.
The cancellation of the subscription service doesn’t affect other Google Photos print services, such as standard photo books, which continue to work as before.