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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.
Sanjiv Sathiah,
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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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Sanjiv Sathiah
Sanjiv Sathiah - Senior Tech Writer - 1229 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2017
I have been writing about consumer technology over the past ten years, previously with the former MacNN and Electronista, and now Notebookcheck since 2017. My first computer was an Apple ][c and this sparked a passion for Apple, but also technology in general. In the past decade, I’ve become increasingly platform agnostic and love to get my hands on and explore as much technology as I can get my hand on. Whether it is Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Nintendo, Xbox, or PlayStation, each has plenty to offer and has given me great joy exploring them all. I was drawn to writing about tech because I love learning about the latest devices and also sharing whatever insights my experience can bring to the site and its readership.
contact me via: @t3mporarybl1p
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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)