30 Days With Google+: Day 19

One of the main things I do on my social network is to share pictures and videos with friends and family. Of course Google+ allows me to do so as well, so for today's 30 Days With Google+ post I am diving in to see how posting and sharing photos and videos on Google+ works.

For starters, I clicked on the Photos icon at the top of the Google+ screen--it's the icon that looks like a couple of snapshots stacked on top of each other with a landscape picture of some trees on top. On the left of the screen are four links to view your photos and videos: Photos from Your Circles, Photos from Your Phone, Photos of You, and Your Albums.

Photos from Your Circles

I like to see the photos shared by the people in my social network, but I don't really see the value of presenting them this way. The "Photos from Your Circles" section of the Google+ Photos page shows a random, eclectic collage of photos...well, from my Circles.

It has some appeal--like surfing Flipboard, or browsing Pinterest--but, it does not seem to be a practical way of engaging with the social network. It seems more like something I might use out of boredom just to kill some time, but in general I am likely to just see the photos from my Circles when the people in my Circles post them to the Stream.

Photos from Your Phone

The Google+ Photos page has a link for "Photos from Your Phone", but the feature only works with Android smartphones that have the Google+ app installed. For those who have an Android smartphone, and have the Google+ app installed, it can be a pretty cool feature.

Basically, every photo taken with the Android smartphone is automatically uploaded to this folder on Google+. There are two benefits to this. First, the photos are available for instant sharing on Google+. Second, if the Android smartphone happens to get lost or stolen, there is already a backup of all the photos on Google+.

A third potential benefit is that if the Android smartphone is stolen, and the thief is dumb enough to start snapping pictures without realizing that they are being automatically uploaded to the Google+ folder, those photos might identify the thief or provide clues that help authorities track him (or her) down.

Photos of You

This section of the Google+ Photos page is supposed to display photos of me, but when I first clicked on it the library was empty. I have posted a number of photos of myself--wearing different hats and holding different coffee mugs, but none of them appeared here.

I quickly figured out the problem. This link shows photos that have been tagged as me. Obviously, just because I post a photo of me doesn't mean Google+ knows that it's a photo of me. I have to tag the photo to identify its connection with me, then it shows up here. Other photos from my Circles and Google+ that are tagged with my Google+ Profile will also show up here.

Your Albums

The photos in Your Albums are broken into different collections--or albums. I can view the photos that I have shared in my own posts, the photos that I have used as profile photos, photos I have made available as scrapbook photos, and then I have one other folder that contains photos I have not shared and that only I can see.

One thing to keep in mind about Google+ Photos is the integration with Google's Web-based photo sharing service--Picasa. If I visit Picasa, I see the same four albums with the same photos that are displayed under Your Albums in Google+.

I can control who I share my photos with, but once I share the photo I lose control of it. Those I have shared the photo with can tag the photo and share the photo with others. Anyone the photo is shared with can also see who else the photo is shared with, and anyone who is tagged in a photo will receive a notification and be able to see both the photo, and the related album it is a part of.

Photos from an iPhone

Google+ Photos does not have the same automated integration from an iPhone as it does from an Android smartphone, but I can still use the Google+ app on the iPhone to my advantage.

The photos I take on the iPhone don't get uploaded to Google+, but I can either post photos from the iPhone photo library to Google+, or take photos from within the Google+ app that are then posted to the social network.

I can choose which Circles to share the photo with, so I created an empty Circle called "iPhone Photos". By posting photos to the "iPhone Photos" Circle, I am uploading them to Google+ and adding the pictures to my Google+ Photos albums (and--by extension--Picasa) without actually sharing them with anyone. It also gives me that same benefit of having a backup of my photos in the event that my iPhone is lost or stolen.

Read the last "30 Days" series: 30 Days With the iPad

Day 18: Hanging Out on Google+ Hangouts