The latest update to Google's photo management tool will free up storage space on smartphones running Android software.
The Google Photos app now has a "free up space" button that lets you zap older photos and videos to make room for new ones. Fear not for your precious selfies and cat pics, though; only copies stored on your device will be deleted. The pictures will be backed up and remain accessible through the Photos app and an online connection to the cloud.
The update to the tool is noteworthy at a time when more Android smartphones are eschewing expandable memory, giving consumers less real estate for storing increasingly larger photo and video files. Cloud storage offers an alternative way of keeping files. It's one that the Mountain View, California, company is keen on people using, since it ties into the broader slate of Google services.
Google Photos will keep track of how much space is available on your phone. The app will alert you when you're running low, at which point you can organize your photos for backup and deletion.
On the downside, cloud storage has suffered from security problems. In 2014, hackers broke into the online storage accounts of, raiding them for private photographs. The hackers targeted accounts on Apple's cloud storage platform iCloud rather than Google Photos, but it shows the risk of uploading personal information and images.
People can protect their cloud-stored data, though, by taking steps such as enabling two-step verification, which links both a password and second identity check, such as a cell phone number.
Meanwhile, Apple and Google have built cloud services to feel like a seamless extension of a phone's physical storage. Many use automatic backup features of services like Google Photos and iCloud to provide a safety net should their smartphones be lost or stolen.
To get the latest Google Photos feature on an Android smartphone today, check for the update (v1.9) in the Google Play Store. Owners of Apple iPhones who use the Google Photos app are in line to receive the update at a later date.