Om Malik on Google Photos vs. Apple Photos

“Google I/O is as good as any time to take stock of the disparate and polar opposite ideologies of Google and Apple when it comes to machine learning and privacy,” Om Malik blogs eponymously. “And nowhere it is more evident than in their respective photos apps: Google Photos and Apple Photos.”

“The improvements in Google Photos and lack of magic in Apple Photos sometimes make me wonder if I made the right choice by buying to Apple’s ecosystem and its ideology around software, data, and privacy. Apple has made it a priority to not mess around with our data and privacy,” Malik writes. “Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly championed privacy as a human right. It is fundamentally the critical difference between them and Google.

“Time and again, Apple has explained to me that they do a lot of their ‘intelligence’ on the device, use strong encryption and make sure that we control it. In simplest terms, our photos from iPhone are uploaded to the iCloud but are encrypted as a ‘blob’ and if we want to share some of these photos, these are downloaded from the cloud, and a new instance is shared using (I am guessing) a sharing encryption key,” Malik writes. “It works, but not as seamlessly as things do on Google, which works on the premise of peering into your data. I am not comfortable with Google’s stance. But I am also human – lazy & convenience are deeply encoded into our brains. So when I use Apple Photos, I am left wondering about their approach.

“In my social circles — admittedly a very tech-centric community — it is hard to find anyone who has told me that they love Apple Photos. Usual refrain tends to be – ‘That’s a mess.’ There are no magical aha moments,” Malik writes. “Photos are Apple and by extension, iPhone’s currency. And yet the software on iPhone and Macs resembles a two-legged dog dragging itself over the rocky ground. Yes, there is assurance that it is not feeding some giant ads-spewing web monster, but by Jove, it isn’t a fun experience, and not magical.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Always ask yourself, “What’s the catch?”

Do you really trust The Creepster Company with your personal photos?

As we wrote back in June 2015 regarding Google Photos:

We believe that Google will eventually monetize their “free” image data gathering operation. For example:

• She looked good in 2005. Height estimate: 5′ 4″. Weight estimate: 110 lbs. In 2015, she’s up to an estimated 150 lbs. Serve up those Weight Watchers ads!

• The wedding photos were nice. June 7th, 2003. But, the photos of them together ended in 2014. He’s not consistently been with anyone significant since then. Serve up the dating ads!

• The post-chemo photos started in January 2008. They ended that same year. Now, they’re back and it’s looking worse than ever. Serve up the funeral parlor ads! (And start emailing the kids about how easy it is to transfer their mom’s Google Photos library to their devices – for FREE, of course.)

Ah, the price of “free.”

We’ve substituted “Siri” with “Photos” in the following:

Apple’s dedication to privacy hamstrings [Photos]. Google et al. have no such issue. To them, users’ privacy is to be trampled.

It’s not at all apparent that the general public values their privacy enough or even knows that Apple’s privacy is paramount, but the average Joe/Jane does seem to regard [Photos] as not too bright, putting into question whether Apple’s commitment to privacy will every really pay off; i.e. translate to increased product sales.

Apple product users seem to value their privacy. Non-Apple product users, by definition, do not value their privacy (or they’d be Apple product users).

So, what’s the inflection point? Do Google and the others need to have an Equifax event befall it for their product users to wake up? Would they even wake up if Google etc. did have a cataclysmic breach? We have our doubts.MacDailyNews, October 5, 2017

Until we see everyday people wake up about privacy, we’ll continue to believe that Apple is serving a niche market of those relative few who recognize the need for and desire the type of stringent privacy protections that Apple offers (outside of China).MacDailyNews, March 21, 2018

The price you’ll pay for Google’s ‘free’ photo storage – June 3, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook champions privacy, blasts ‘so-called free services’ – June 3, 2015
Passing on Google Photos for iOS: Read the fine print before you sign up for Google’s new Photos service – June 1, 2015
Why Apple’s Photos beats Google Photos, despite price and shortcomings – May 30, 2015
Is Apple is losing the photo wars? – May 29, 2015
How Google aims to delve deeper into users’ lives – May 29, 2015
Apple CEO Cook: Unlike some other companies, Apple won’t invade your right to privacy – March 2, 2015
Survey: People trust U.S. NSA more than Google – October 29, 2014
Edward Snowden’s privacy tips: ‘Get rid of Dropbox,” avoid Facebook and Google – October 13, 2014


  1. Consider this: there is no native way to add keywords to a photo on iPhone. How braindead is that!!?? I want to tag photos in the Photos app and I can’t. Things like “car accident” or an object I see in a store. Things that are not necessarily related to a location (or might have forgotten where the location was) or date (or I forgot when it happened). Why can’t I tag photos!!?? It seems so obvious and yet has been missing from Day 1…

    1. Well noted. Apple has dropped the ball on Photos to the point that it is just another piece of dying software. It’s embarrassing how little Apple upgrades anything in today’s product line. Only the iPhone gets any attention whatsoever. Macs, software, everything else is just left to rot. I really wonder how much longer I can hang on as a life long Apple user. The drop in quality is just too much sometimes.

    2. Spot on, this is the #1, #2 and #3 reasons that Photos is not very useful for me. I take a lot of photos (~1000 month), of course most are spontaneous snaps and not priceless memories, but the several dozen photos that I want to keep track of out of all of those for future projects or whatever else get lost in the shuffle. The best option is to favorite them, but once you have hundreds of favorites you still have a hard time finding what’s relevant. I haven’t even tried tagging on my Mac because I have all of my photos on my iPhone with me at all times. That is where I want to tag my photos right away. Not at a later time.

    3. Agreed. That is why Aperture on a Mac is so sorely missed. Managing photos PROPERLY on a big screen using local storage is a gazillion times better than sending untagged shapshots into a black hole called “the cloud”.

  2. Why is it, I cannot read articles on MDN (on iPad, in Safari) without experiencing redirects to ad sites? It’s the ONLY website that does this. Am I the only one? Obviously, my private message to MDN about this went unanswered.

    Does anyone else experience this? It’s not a virus or from surfing nafarious sites… it ONLY happens on MDNs site. It must be intentional on the part of MDN?

    1. You are not alone. If I try to read MDN using my iPhone, I am ALWAYS redirected to some scam site. I tried to get MDN to respond to this but my emails were ignored. I no longer read MDN except when I am using my PC and Firefox. No problems there.

        1. This is NOT Just MDN, I think it is something with Safari. I get these on a few news sites also. Go to a link for a new article and suddenly Re-Directs. I don’t get them here at MDN often, maybe once every couple of weeks, but almost daily on certain news sites. That makes me think it is some kind of DNS or Safari thing. I run Malwarebytes regularly to see if I have something that is doing it. But, MWB says I am clean. Sarari Issue?

      1. It’s so bad I’ve started just reading instead. They have a decent app and pretty much same articles. No annoying spam ads that highjack your browser.

  3. Apple ios file system sucks all together.. its not just issue of photos.

    Now they want everything u have on the cloud in order to have some contol..
    Too dictatorial.. and impractical.

    To me the walled garden is more like a walled prison. And there is no reason for it to be that way… its idiosyncratic and stubborn.

    And ahhhh the pain frustrating experiance of the Apple AI .. across the platform…. its dismal and they are falling behind by the day . …
    hope they have a clue of the urgency of the matter !?

    Ahoyyyy Apple… ?? Anybody there.

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