With the recent news that Google Photos and Drive files would no longer be unlimited at no cost, users have been pretty angry and shaken by the news for the past 24 hours. It’s understandable that Google needs to make changes to continue providing for everyone, but it’s still sad nonetheless. While over 80% of you will be able to continue using the rest of your 15GB of free storage for the next 3 years before it even fills up, many of us have shifted over to Google One, the company’s storage subscription service, to up our limits. With that, Google One on the Play Store has hit a milestone of 100 million downloads.
It’s unclear if the recent news has helped to bump the app over the threshold or not, but it’s likely that many have gone to install it after reading that the change was taking place. Google One provides an overview of your storage across Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Drive all in one place, similar to what Apple has done for years. It’s also sharable with your Family Group, can backup your device, and provides 24/7 support from a Google Expert via phone, chat, or email.
In addition, there are ‘Benefits’ which come in the form of the occasional free Nest mini, small Google Store Rewards, hotel discounts for some reason, and the newly added Color Pop feature for images without depth information in Google Photos. My honest opinion is that many of these additions to the Benefits the service provides are weak attempts to bolster its perceived value among customers since Google had already planned to kill free unlimited storage beyond 15GB way before telling anyone. All of the puzzle pieces are now coming together, aren’t they?
They did recently add a VPN, but I think they’ll need to do more to win the trust of the next 100 million. Given that Google One now has a free tier, primarily for looking at your storage, it may be a good opportunity for Google to merge Chromebook Perks and other free and discounted offers across their ecosystem into Google One in order to make it more appealing and centralized. This would allow them to give a bunch away for free like KineMaster Pro and the Stadia Premiere Edition Bundle while asking users to subscribe for extra storage and Color Pop. Not everyone will have a Chromebook and not everyone will be a ‘One’ subscriber, but I think it could work if they’re careful about it.
Even Pixel phone users will need to consider using Google One in the future, should they choose to upgrade beyond the fifth generation of devices. The app is not preinstalled on most phones aside from Pixels, and while I love my Google hardware, I would be lying if I said they had a large market share, so the 100 million downloads milestone is truly an interesting mystery. Perhaps people really enjoy seeing all of their storage in one place and maybe it’s well past time that Google added such a feature – it’s just a shame it had to come in such an unfortunate package.