For some time now, Google+ has been evolving into an enticing service for amateur and professional photographers alike. Google has taken that one step further with the addition of full-size image uploads from the desktop, applicable for profile photos, new albums and back-ups.

Jon Emerson, a senior software engineer at Google, revealed this tidbit on his Google+ profile recently. Users can switch on full-size uploads by heading to the settings panel and highlighting the appropriate tick-box, found under the Photos sub-header. It’s worth noting that all photos uploaded this way will count towards the initial 5GB of free storage provided by Google.

fullres1 520x425 Google+ gets full size photo uploads from the desktop, putting pressure on Flickr and 500px

On the surface, it might seem like an insignificant update. For photographers, however, full-size uploads is a crucial feature when choosing an image-sharing service to support. After all, Flickr has been given a fresh redesign recently and 500px has come a long way since it launched in 2009.

Full-size photo uploads are important because it preserves the quality of every image. This is important for photographers who want to use Google+ as a cloud-based storage service, as it means photos can be downloaded again at anytime, without a loss of quality. That’s particularly useful if the user is moving between machines and wants to make some quick edits, or wants them to be readily available when meeting a client.

Google+ is also becoming a place for users to go and peruse the images shot by other photographers. As with video uploads on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, access to higher quality content ultimately leads to a more enjoyable viewing experience, and a truer representation of the creator’s work.

The strength of Google+ is arguably its search functionality. Communities of photographers have formed on the service because of how easy it is to search for weekly competitions, such as #MacroTuesday or #blackandwhite, and find new photos based on any number of keywords.

The addition of full-size photo uploads also moves Google+ closer to Picasa, another photo-storage service owned by Google. The technology giant has never hinted at the closure of Picasa, but it’s keen to tout Google+ as the connective tissue between all of its other web-based services and apps. If the storage and album interface improves, Google+ could easily make Picasa redundant in the future.

Related: Think Google+ is a ghost town? Chances are you’re just using it wrong

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Image Credit: KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty Images