Photos and Drive - Still a Huge Gap Between Them
By now you've certainly heard everyone talking about the latest nail in Google+'s coffin: Google Photos are now available in Google Drive. (See http://googledrive.blogspot.com/2015/03/photosindrive.html
if you haven't.)
Like everyone else, I was initially thrilled with the news. We've had the ability to have photos in Drive show up in Google+ Photos for a while now through a weird one-way bridge. Now the bridge goes both ways. Sorta. Kinda. Not quite. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I started playing with it... and after only 15 minutes I have to give the Google Drive and Google Photos team credit. I didn't think they could have made the Photo management experience any worse... and they did.
By default, your photos will show up in a new area in Drive, not a new folder. I assume there is a technical reason for this, because I can't think of a possible UX reason for this. It will only serve to confuse people for no obvious reason. I'm
confused about it, thats for sure, and I feel like I know what's going on. But there are lots and lots of places that tell you that you can just press one button, and they'll all show up in a folder under My Drive.
There is no indication why you would want to keep them in the separate area. No indication what other side effects this might cause (will this folder get synced locally if you have that? Help doesn't say). Just lots of suggesting that if you want to move the files around, you need to do this. So I finally did. The full list is there still... so it isn't clear at all what I've now gained. I guess I can click on a photo and see what folder it is in? And... um... do some other metadata editing? Maybe? No clue.
But now I can organize my photos. Right?
Well... not quite. The help says, many times, that although deleting a photo will delete it in both places... moving it around in Drive won't move it around in Google+. I assume that the previous bridge will still work... so now I'll have these strange albums named "03" with the drive logo and no other useful information. And I can't edit or manipulate a Photo Album from Drive... just a Drive Folder. Which sorta shows up in Photos as an Album. Kinda.
I can already see that the help forum is going to get a pile of new questions, because this makes no sense to anyone that tries to use both. It really feels like this is a hack to make AutoUpload show up on Drive. A well-intentioned hack, and one that I will likely make some use of... but definitely a hack. It does not feel easy and intuitive to use. And it feels like it will be easy to do the wrong thing - like delete images you didn't want to delete.
What does this add to the photo management that Photos has desperately needed? Nothing. What Picasa, Aperture, and Lightroom provided was the ability to manage thousands of photos in ways that transcend simple folders. Drive certainly could
be the basis for real photo management... but this bizarre split doesn't make me feel very optimistic that they will ever get to that point without lots of kludges. It would be great to see dynamic virtual albums, album ordering, quick flagging, integration with YouTube and AutoAwesome, and a good staging system for Stories. But this shows how far there is to go to actually get to that point.
Are there advantages to this new feature? Certainly! I don't have to download-upload things constantly. And we get the advantage of the other editing tools that Drive gives us access too. I think it is great that the two teams have provided this. It is the next step in seamless integration of different Google tools and I hope we take many more steps soon.
But right now... there are huge seams... and they are very visible... and they're only held together by a very thin thread.