If you’ve kept up with the news, one of the more disappointing news to surface about the Google Pixel 4 is that Google isn’t providing unlimited Photos storage for Pixel users at original quality anymore. That’s something that has been available for all Pixel phones in the past—other than the Pixel 3a—and somewhat undermines one of the Pixel’s main strengths.
To rub salt in the wound, a user on Reddit revealed that photos uploaded onto Google Photos on iPhones don’t take up any space on Google Drive—basically, unlimited original resolution image backups for free. This is due to the HEIC format that iPhones use for photos by default, which is more efficient than the reduced “high quality” setting that Google Photos compresses your JPEGs into.
It’s also worth noting that HEIC isn’t a format exclusively used by Apple, with Samsung also allowing users to opt for the storage-efficient format. However, Google has told Android Police that a “fix” will be rolled out to correct this:
“We are aware of this bug and are working to fix it.”
It isn’t clear how they plan to fix this, however. Logically, it wouldn’t make sense for Google to convert the HEICs to JPEGs, and essentially dedicate more resources towards the conversion of an already efficient file just to even the playing field.
But at the same time, it’s a PR nightmare that has come at just the wrong time, with users already complaining that Google is pushing Pixel users towards a subscription-based storage option, with a 3-month trial period for the Google One service bundled with the Pixel phones instead.
An alternative route would be to charge iPhone users for HEIC storage, or to basically set HEIC photos to take up Google Drive storage (15GB free by default) automatically. Regardless, iOS users have already been complaining on Reddit that the “bug” should never have been discussed publicly, with reports (such as this) inevitably leading to a “fix”.