Surprise and Delight with Google Photos

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Anyone who follows me on Twitter has, by now, noticed I have been sharing a load of stuff from Google Photos.  For those who don’t know, this is a free service from Google that allows you to basically upload an unlimited number of photos (if you are happy with their “high quality” setting) and store them in the Cloud.

On top of that, Google Photo has some really clever little tricks up its digital sleeve, by way of Auto Awesomeness. It will analyse your images and do all sorts of clever things. It will create panoramas if it finds images in a panoramic sequence. It will create animations of images that have been taken in quick succession. If you have stuff geotagged, it can also create stories based on image sequences and locations. On top of that it will also create montages and filtered images where it sees fit and probably more. As well as that, it categorises things for you and makes your images searchable. You can look for images of faces, of locations, objects and all sorts – which is actually rather handy.

I uploaded about 10,000 images over the course of a few days. From old phone backups, sd cards backups and images I had on picassa many years ago. As you can imagine, most of these had been totally forgotten about.

This is where the surprise and delight comes in and why I am in love with Google Photos.

As Google does its thing and starts making its creations out of your images, it lets you know via the app or the assistant page on its website. Very quickly I became hooked on checking these as Google brought surprsing and delightful new life to imaes long forgotten. Don’t beleive me? Check out this animation it created of my daughter on the day she was born!

Olivia at Birth

Olivia at Birth

Google gave me a video I never created of my daughters first day on the planet. That surprised and delighted me!

I know other software is more than capable of creating this sort of thing, but normally you have to do it yourself – there is no surprise when you know you are doing it. The point here is, I was not expecting anything and got things like this.


And wonderful automatically created stories of visits and holidays – like this one from the Natural History Museum.

When an application can give life to old forgotten parts of your history, it adds a whole new level of meaning to the app and creates wonderful moments that can’t be replaced. I know Google are pillaging my images for biometric data, locations, hell – they probably know more about my history and that of my kids than I do, but I don’t care. They have given me happiness and that is priceless.

Gamification is not just about sticking game elements on things. It is about the user experience, done in a way that learns from games. Games surprise and delight the player constantly. Players discover new things, are rewarded for their exploration, their observation, their achievements, their willingness to play that game. It is part of what keeps them playing longer.  Reward your users for their participation, not with points and badges. but with things that will make them smile or make them feel valued. I have said it before and will say it again – loyalty is earned and part of that is to make the user feel as though they value you. Google could have settled at just giving people unlimited and convenient photo storage, but they went a massive step further and that is why I staying with this service!

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1 Response

  1. June 17, 2015

    […] It means more if it was unexpected (surprise and delight) […]

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Andrzej Marczewski
About Andrzej Marczewski twitter facebook    
Gamification thought leader and evangelist, I love to write about it, talk about it and bore people to death with it! If you really want to get to know me, check out the About page.

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