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Google to put kybosh on HEIC loophole giving iPhone users unlimited full quality photo storage

Recent Samsung Galaxy devices also support the HEIC photo file format. (Source: Notebookcheck)
Recent Samsung Galaxy devices also support the HEIC photo file format. (Source: Notebookcheck)
Google is working on a ‘fix’ that is resulting in iPhone owners getting free unlimited storage in Photos online for full quality photos using its new default HEIC file format. HEIC is a newer compression technology than JPEG and the result is that iPhone owners are currently getting a free ride on full quality photo storage while Android, and even new Pixel 4 owners, are capped a 15 GB of full quality photo storage.

Google is set to close off a loophole that has been allowing iPhone users (knowingly or unknowingly) to get free unlimited storage for photos shot at full quality. This is a feature that Google had, until the launch of the Pixel 4, reserved exclusively for Pixel owners. Google Photos users regardless of OS are all able to store free high-quality photos but only up to a 15 GB limit – beyond that, they will need to subscribe to a higher limit storage tier. Even new Pixel 4 owners are bound by these constraints and can continue to enjoy unlimited compressed “high-quality” photos.

The issue has come about because Apple switched to HEIC, its name for HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format) that is a newer and improved compression alternative to JPEG. As Google currently has a 16 MB ceiling on photo files, this means that a typical full quality HEIC photo still falls under the threshold. It is not yet known how Google plans to impose the restriction on iPhone users, but one can understand why it would want to close off this workaround.

On the other hand, one can understand why iPhone users might be a little miffed to learn that they are being penalized in the sense that their full-quality photos might only take up similar storage space to a compressed “high-quality” JPEG. That said, however, it would be even more ridiculous if Google’s own Pixel 4 owners were being disadvantaged. At this stage, there is no timeline provided for when the change will take effect on iPhone owners but the story does highlight the benefits of HEIC, a feature also available newer Samsung Galaxy owners in their settings.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 10 > Google to put kybosh on HEIC loophole giving iPhone users unlimited full quality photo storage
Sanjiv Sathiah, 2019-10-21 (Update: 2019-10-21)
Sanjiv Sathiah
Sanjiv Sathiah - News Editor
I have been tech-obsessed from the time my father introduced me to my first computer, an Apple ][. Since then, I have grown to enjoy exploring and experimenting with any computing platform that I can get my hands on – I am the definitive early adopter! I have always been interested in how we can use technology to shape and improve our lives, most recently using it to record, mix and master my debut record, Acuity – Nature | Nurture out now on Spotify.