Google confirms the change that affects a billion users of Google Photos

Shortly after canceling one of its more confusing services, Google has now disabled a major Google Photos feature that millions of users trust by default.

MORE FROM FORBESGoogle cancels the subscription service to Google Photos Print

Google has announced that it is changing the way the Google Photos app will perform automatic backups. From now on, images saved to your device via messaging apps will no longer be backed up to Google’s cloud-based service by default. You will have to take action if you want these backups to continue.

There is no official list of affected apps, but WhatsApp, Messages and Kik are specifically mentioned as affected. Google’s reasoning is in response to increased exchange during the Covid-19 pandemic and a desire to reduce unnecessary Internet bandwidth.

The change only affects the default behavior of the app and can be reversed, but if you don’t take action now, you may lose important photos if you lose or update your phone. You can re-enable backups of affected applications by following the instructions in the new Google support document. However, you will have to manually re-enable the feature for each individually using the following steps:

  • Tap “Library”, then search for “Photos on device” and tap the “View” button all.
  • Find the folder you want to back up, for example “WhatsApp Images”
  • Activate “Backup and Sync” with the slider near the top of the screen.

At first glance, Google’s decision seems reasonable. The company has already taken steps to reduce bandwidth consumption on YouTube, and we’ve seen similar moves by other Internet heavyweights like Netflix, Facebook, Disney, and Amazon. However, the timing of this latest announcement is baffling given that most previous services implemented their cuts about three months ago and are now reverting to their pre-pandemic settings. The change also comes after a major update to Google Photos that is likely to increase data consumption with its new emphasis on exploring memories.

Either way, it is important that all Google Photos users verify their settings at this time.

Follow @paul_monckton on Instagram

MORE FROM FORBESThe massive change in Google Photos affects a billion users