Friday, April 29, 2016

Powerful Search Inside the Google Photos App

I love taking pictures, but that translates easily to the idea that I have a ton of photos. I'm taking advantage of my unlimited storage available in our Google Apps For Education's Google Drive and have the app setup so that my photos from my mobile device will automatically upload into my Google Drive, just to see how well this feature works.  I was headed for a big surprise!

I was working with a teacher and the subject came to braiding hair. Being the 21st Century daddy I am, I had to show off my first attempt at French Braiding my daughter's hair.  Problem: I have tons of photos on my phone and didn't know how long ago I took the picture.  Solution: I remembered I had Google Photos app on my phone.  I used it to search 'braid' and came up with:
Wow! The top two choices were Mancub2's braided hair, selected from all of my photos. It also came up with my friend's pic with her hair in a bun.  

I was intrigued, I started searching other words.  I searched 'license plate' and 'cooking' and came up with the photos below. If Google can find a braid in a picture, a license plate should be no problem. Cooking was a very successful search, but for some reason, Mancub1 and Djude triggered 'license plate'.  


Impressed, I tried to push the envelope. What about searching for something more conceptual? I search 'war' and the World War 2 and Korean War memorials in Washington DC were found.  I understand that the geotagging on the photos probably helped that result.  Also found when searching 'war' were a group of pictures of my dad. One was taken at the Veteran's Hospital and the other at a family gathering.

I was very surprised by how well the photos search works in Google Photos, on my phone as well as my laptop.  Some of it is image recognition and some of it uses geotagged clues. This is an impressive tool available to all Google accounts. 
-Howard J Martin