Google has confirmed it plans to fix a “bug” that gives iPhone owners unlimited high-resolution photo storage.
Some users believed the issue was actually a feature that could save Google “millions of dollars” in cloud storage. But Google has says it is unintended and it is working on a fix.
Google Photos gives everybody unlimited storage, but with a catch. Every photo you upload is compressed to save space if you don’t pay a monthly fee to have your originals uploaded.
But iPhone owners recently noticed that Google isn’t compressing images shot in the High Efficiency Image Coding (HEIC) format Apple first introduced with iOS 11.
Sadly, this isn’t intentional.
Original uploads unintentional
Some assumed Google wasn’t compressing HEIC images because they are already significantly smaller than the JPEG files shot by most smartphone and tablets — even compressed ones.
“With all modern iPhones shooting photos in HEIC format, which is smaller than even Googles compressed JPG files, iPhones therefore get free unlimited ORIGINAL quality backups simply because it would cost Google both storage space,” writes one Reddit user.
“If Google tried to compress iPhones HEIC photos they would actually become larger … So Apple is literally saving Google millions of dollars by shooting their photos in HEIC and it benefits iPhone users as well because we get free original quality backups.”
That makes sense, right? But unfortunately, it’s not the case.
Google will fix Photos ‘bug’
HEIC files might be smaller that JPEGs, but Google still won’t allow originals to be stored for free. In confirmed to Android Authority that this is a “bug” that will be eliminated.
“We are aware of this bug and are working for it,” the statement read.
It’s not yet clear what will happen to HEIC photos that have already been uploaded without compression. Google may allow those to stay, but it could ask users to pay up or lose them.
We’ll let you know what’s happening as soon as Google’s fix is out.