Google is working on a fix for full quality unlimited photo backups for iPhones

Imran Hussain
Google Photos

An loophole had recently been found which allowed users to get free full quality photo backups to Google Photos, for free, on iPhone. This was happening since sometime, due to Apple's usage of HEIC format to capture and save photos. The issue gained traction when Google announced Pixel 4, without unlimited photo backups, amongst other issues. Google has finally responded to this problem and instead of providing unlimited backups for Pixel 4 too, they say that the bug is going to be fixed.

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Android Police reached out to Google and got this statement in response:

We are aware of this bug and are working to fix it.

Google is claiming that it is a bug that allows iOS users to get free full-quality backups. So when the bug is fixed, the free ride will be over for iOS users. It will be interesting to see how Google applies a 'fix' to this issue. Either of the following possibilities can happen:

  • Google stops backing up HEIC photos by converting them to JPEG first. Apple allows apps to access photos as JPEGs, to ensure compatibility, as evident in Settings. This will also impact any other Android devices which allow saving photos as HEIC.
  • Google finds a way to provide even more efficient compression.
  • Google reduces the resolution of the photos further to save storage space on their servers.

No matter which method Google follows, Reddit user stephenvsawyer gets the credit for bringing this issue to light.

With all modern iPhones shooting photos in HEIC format, which is smaller than even Googles compressed JPG files, iPhones therefore get free unlimited ORIGINAL quality backups simply because it would cost Google both storage space (because if Google tried to compress iPhones HEIC photos they would actually become larger) and computing power (because Google doesn’t need to compress and process all of the billions of photos iPhones backup.)

So Apple is literally saving Google millions of dollars by shooting their photos in HEIC and it benefits iPhone users as well because we get free original quality backups.

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