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How Google and Apple solve one of photography’s biggest problems

Google Photos yesterday upped its AI game by allowing users to cobble together slideshows of their favorite images with a number of new themes. While the Assistant always pieced together matching images in the form of mini-collages, the new update goes full-on slideshow in creating a collage with dozens of images, complete with a soundtrack to match your chosen theme.

To use it, just head over to the Google Photos website, and choose one of nine options. From there, it’s all about selecting the photos you want in the slideshow and being patient while Google works its magic.

Presumably, there are more themes to come, as the holiday options are limited to the next three major “Hallmark” holidays.  Joining them are themes for your cat or dog, selfies, children, good times, and a memorial option for lost loved ones.

It’s not that the feature is game-changing in and of itself, it’s not. Apple has been fiddling around with the same sort of AI photo technology that Google has, and to be honest, it’s mostly about preference at this point. Both are exceptional.

The real appeal of this is of the constant one-upsmanship between Apple and Google that benefit all of us shutterbugs with massive photo libraries and little clue in what to do with them. I’m nearing 120GB, which is paltry compared to many others.

The problem with always having a camera in your pocket is that you’re never all that discerning in when you use it. This has a tendency to lead to massive photo libraries, libraries full of photos that are shared sporadically in the days after they’re snapped, but largely forgotten in the months and years to follow.

By making it cheap to store photos (or free, even), and providing free tools to pull older photos out of your archives, dust them off, and fondly relive some of your favorite moments, Google and Apple are in the beginning stages of solving an issue that plagues all of us: what do I do with my massive photo archive other than, uh, archive it?

And the problem is only going to get worse.

Back in 2010, Google’s then-CEO Eric Schmidt reminded us that every two days we create as much information as we did in all of recorded history to 2003. That number has grown since, with the US alone spitting out over 2,657,700 gigabytes of internet data every minute.

It’s good to know that digital mountain of photos and videos each of us sit on might actually be put to good use.