Earlier, one couldn’t set apps other than from Apple as default apps on iPhone and iPad. But things changed with iOS 14 where you could change the default browser, email, and music apps on iPhone. However, one still cannot set a different photos app as the default app. So how does one use a different gallery or photos app such as Google Photos on iPhone? If you are interested in making Google Photos the default photos app on iPhone, you will find the answer here.
The steps work on both iPhone and iPad. For the sake of simplicity, we will be mentioning only iPhone going forward.
Table of Contents
How Google Photos and Apple Photos Work on iPhone.
Before we tell you the steps, you need to understand how Google Photos and Apple Photos work on iPhone.
Apple Photos app is the default gallery app on iPhone that comes pre-installed. You can view the photos and videos taken through the Camera app in Apple Photos app. If you want to back up photos to cloud, enable iCloud Photos. By doing so, all the old and new photos and videos on your iPhone will be backed up to Apple’s iCloud service.
Similarly, Google Photos can act both as a gallery app and cloud storage service to backup and sync your photos to Google servers. When you install Google Photos on your iPhone, the app merely acts as a gallery app that lets you view your iPhone’s photos in the app. If you enable backup service on Google Photos, your iPhone’s photos and videos will back up to the cloud.
You can use both of them on your iPhone. But if you want to only use Google Photos, here’s what you need to do.
Can You Make Google Photos Default App on iPhone?
While making Google Photos as the default app sounds like a simple query, in reality, things are a bit different. You can definitely use Google Photos instead of Apple Photos to view photos on iPhone. But you cannot completely keep Google Photos as the default photos or gallery app on iPhone.
What you can do is set Google Photos as the default app only for taking a backup of your iPhone photos. For that, you will need to disable iCloud Photos and enable backup on Google Photos (detailed steps below). However, once you store photos on Google Photos and decide to remove them from your iPhone using the Free up space feature, you cannot directly access those photos from other apps on your iPhone as you can do with Apple Photos. But if they are kept on both iPhone and Google Photos, you can access them from other apps too.
How to Make Google Photos Default on iPhone
Now that you know the truth, here are the steps in detail to allow Google Photos to take a backup of your photos instead of iCloud.
1. Download Google Photos app on your iPhone.
2. Open Settings on your iPhone and tap on your name.
3. Tap on iCloud followed by Photos.
4. Here you will see two options – Optimize iPhone storage and Download and Keep original. If the first one is selected, you should select Download and Keep Originals before you turn off iCloud Photos. That will ensure high-resolution photos are saved to Google Photos in the next step. It might take some time for your iPhone to download original photos. Make sure you have enough space to store them.
Once downloaded, turn off the toggle next to iCloud Photos. Now any new photos from your iPhone will not sync to iCloud.
5. Open the Google Photos app and tap on the profile picture icon at the top. Choose Google Photos settings from the menu.
6. Tap on Back up & sync. Enable the toggle next to Back up & sync.
7. Once you enable Back up & sync, you will see the option to choose the upload size i.e., quality at which you want to upload your photos and videos. You get two options – High quality (Storage saver) and Original.
The Storage saver compresses photos and videos to save space. That means the photos will be compressed to 16 MP if a photo is larger than 16 MP. Similarly, videos will be compressed to 1080 pixels. On the contrary, the Original quality means that the photos and videos are saved in the same resolution in which one took them. Choose the required option as per your requirement. You can also allow Google Photos to take back up of your photos or videos on mobile data.
Now photos or videos available on your iPhone and any new photos or videos that you take from your iPhone will automatically back up to Google Photos. You can access them on your PC through any browser or through another iPhone or Android phone using the Google Photos app.
At this stage, your iPhone photos are available on both iPhone and Google Photos. If you want to save space on your iPhone, you can remove already-backed up photos and videos from your iPhone using the Google Photos’ Free up space feature. That way the photos and videos will only stay in the cloud. For that, go to Google Photos setting from the app and tap on Manage device storage. Tap on Free up space.
By doing so, you cannot interact with photos and videos stored in Google Photos from other apps on your iPhone. You will need to download the pictures from Google Photos first in order to use them in other apps. To do so, open the photo in the Google Photos app. Swipe up on the photo and tap on Download. Alternatively, tap on the Share icon and select Share to followed by selecting the required app.
The above steps will help you in storing new photos and videos from iPhone to Google Photos. But what about existing data in iCloud? For that, Apple recently launched a native service to transfer iCloud photos and videos to Google Photos. However, that will not delete data from iCloud and free up space. In case you want to reclaim the space taken by photos and videos on iCloud, you need to use the Disable & Delete feature on your iPhone. For that, go to iPhone Settings > Your name > iCloud > Manage Storage > Photos > Disable & Delete.
Google Photos or iCloud Photos
For starters, you get more space in the free tier of Google Photos as compared to iCloud. iCloud offers only 5GB of space in the free version whereas Google offers 15GB of free space. Even for the premium variants, Google Photos is slightly cheaper than Apple. Both products share the space with other services from their respective owners.
Apart from storage, Google Photos lets you access your photos and videos across all major platforms. That facility isn’t available with iCloud photos. Google Photos also offers great photo and video editing capabilities.
Wrap up: Make Google Photos Default on iPhone
As you saw above, things aren’t simple as they seem. However, once you know all the details you can easily use Google Photos regularly on iPhone. We hope Apple allows us to make Google Photos the default photos app on iPhone in the future iOS versions. Fingers crossed.