Amazon Prime Photos has been given a refresh, thanks to new features designed to improve discovery, engagement, and sharing. Starting today, U.S. Prime members can use what’s called a “Family Vault,” which grants unlimited photo storage to five family members at no additional cost. In addition, the service now supports smarter search technology and photo printing with free delivery.
“Prime members love the benefit of unlimited photo storage but often struggle to collect and organize photos across multiple devices and accounts into a single, shareable archive,” explained Amazon’s director of Prime Photos, David Nenke. “We launched the Family Vault to make it easy for family members to safely store and share all their favorite moments.”
Amazon said Prime Photos has tens of millions of users, and the update will be available only in the U.S. The Family Vault initiative is a way for the company to highlight how scalable its infrastructure is and to further differentiate itself from Dropbox, Flickr, Facebook, Google Photos, and Microsoft OneDrive.
“Primarily, Prime members have used the Prime Photos service to store their photos and video. With Family Vault, we expect that Prime members and their friends/family included in the Vault will be able to share photos with each other and also link out photos with social media, etc,” a company spokesperson told VentureBeat.
Users of Prime Photos will have unlimited storage for photos, but just 5GB of video. You don’t have to be a Prime user to access this feature through a friend or family member, and you will retain these features as long as one person has a Prime account. If the Prime member cancels or fails to renew their membership, everyone will still have access to view and download their photos for up to 90 days, but Family Vault members are prohibited from uploading new content.
Other updates include an improved search engine that will now find photos and videos using technology that’s reminiscent of image recognition and pertinent tags. Instead of scouring through thousands of photos to find specific images, you can now query “sunset” or “wedding” in order to surface the image from that trip you took two years ago. Users can browse the photos of individual family members and friends in the people view, along with searching by location and date.
Lastly, Amazon is giving Prime members the option to print out photos stored within its cloud service. Uncovered in September, Amazon Prints lets you print photos — starting at $0.09 each, with books starting at $20. The program is designed to compete against Shutterfly, Blurb, Costco, and many similar services.
All of these features are accessible to those with Amazon Prime membership and comes after the online retailer stealthily shuttered its unlimited photos storage plan in favor of making a product exclusively for Prime members.