Google is introducing a handful of upgrades to its Google One service today, including free automatic phone backup and a new dedicated iPhone app.
The internet giant launched its Google One program two years ago, serving as a replacement to the existing Google Drive storage plans. All Google Account users get 15GB of storage for free, but with a Google One subscription they can pay from $1.99 per month to get additional storage for all their photos, videos, emails, and documents, as well as gain access to services such as live support.
Last year, Google rolled out a new phone backup tool, enabling Google One members on Android to manually or automatically save the entirety of their device, including contacts, apps, texts, and photos, videos, and multimedia messages (MMS) to the cloud. It’s worth noting that all Android users could already (and still can) back up all their texts, contacts, and apps to Google’s cloud for free — what Google One ushers into the mix, specifically, is original-quality photos, videos, and MMS.
This automatic backup service will now be made available to anyone who uses the Google One app, regardless of whether they have an active Google One membership.
It’s clear to see how this is designed to encourage more users to upgrade, given that the 15GB of free storage that comes with a Google Account will likely not be enough for millions of people who have years’ worth of photos and videos stored on their phones.
When someone begins the backup process, it will continue until they hit their 15GB limit. At that point, the backup stops and users will see a warning in the app telling them they are out of storage and they can upgrade to a Google One membership. Users can select which files they choose to send to their backup — for example, leaving out videos, which typically consume more storage space.
Additionally, the Google One app and website are also getting a new storage management tool that makes it easier to view files across Drive, Gmail, and Photos, and delete ones that are no longer needed, making more space.
Google One on iPhone
Before now, iPhone users could only upgrade to a One membership via the Google Drive or Google Photos app, but shortly they will have their own standalone Google One mobile app too, through which they can manage their membership and back up their photos, videos, contacts, and calendar events directly to Google’s cloud. This won’t extend to texts or apps. Also, a Google spokesperson said that backup functionality in the Google One iPhone app won’t have an automatic option as with Android — they will have to hit a “back up now” button every time. This could change in the future, the spokesperson suggested.
Instinctively, demand for Google-backup services among the iPhone-toting fraternity will likely be limited given the existence of iCloud, though there are some scenarios where it could prove useful. For example, in a family setup an iPhone user could sign up for a Google One membership and share their storage allowance with family members who use Android.
Google said that the new features will be arriving in its Android app “in the coming days,” with the iOS app rolling out to the App Store “soon.”