Android phones will continue to upload your pictures to Google Photos, even if you delete the app

Android phones will continue to upload your pictures to Google Photos, even if you delete the app
Friendly reminder: your Android handset requires you to log in with a Google account to fully unlock its functions – access to the Play Store, email app, et cetera. A Google account is more than just Gmail – you can actually use it across all of Google's services – YouTube, Photos, Google+, Inbox, Fit, Drive, Calendar, and Chrome. Any time you do something through your own account (watch a video, do a search, upload a photo), the information of that action gets synced to the according service, be it for history or bookmark reasons.

We are sorry about the vague introduction, but a mini-scandal seems to be ready to erupt on the 'net and we feel like a lack of understanding of how Android and Google accounts work together may be the cause of it.

A Mr. David Arnott from The Business Journals reports that his Android phone has been uploading his pictures to Google's servers, even though he has long deleted the Google Photos app. Mr. Arnott suggests that this is a major privacy concern, and we can see how one could easily get alarmed by what he witnessed. In fact, we were able to reproduce the “issue”, and anyone owning an Android phone can do it as well.

The thing is that Google Photos is just a viewer – it's an app that allows users to look at the pictures stored both in their phone and on their Google account. As we previously mentioned, a Google account will sync all your relevant data to its respective services. So, once you've set up Google Photos (after you install the app once), whenever you take a photo on your Android phone, it will sync with Google's cloud, regardless of the fact that you may not use the actual app.

This can, indeed, be confusing – “If the app is gone, the service should not be in use” is the common logic that most people would follow. However, Google loves aggregating data, and it loves attempting to draw people to the Google+ social network in any way it can, so it will try to tie your things to its cloud, sorry. The good news – and something to remember – is that, once photos are uploaded to the cloud, they will not become public on Google+ – not unless you review and approve them to be posted!

If you do not wish your pictures to sync with Google Photos, you need to go into your phone's Settings → Accounts → Google; select your primary Google account and de-check the “Sync Photos” option.

You can also do it from within the Google Photos app before you uninstall it.

source: BizJournals via NeoWin



1. 5kyNet

Posts: 23; Member since: Apr 08, 2015

This isn't a "mini-scandal". It's just stupidity of the person in front of the phone. The photo sync isn't related to google photos app (and never was) cause it's also be used by google+ for example. You aleays had to configure it via the google settings so what's the deal here? Much talking about nothing just because some idiot wasn't able to configure his phone setings right,

3. Martin_Cooper

Posts: 1774; Member since: Jul 30, 2013

Your "some idiot" is the 90% of the world population who aren't into technology and use common sense and logic, which flies out of the window with the app. For the 55.487th time stop making it sound as if the whole planet has knowledge in technology, apps, specs or what so ever cause that's not the case. You me and many PA users are technology geeks and we are in the minority.

8. 5kyNet

Posts: 23; Member since: Apr 08, 2015

I know that most people aren't much into tech stuff. BUT: in this case the photo sync functionality was available in Android long before the new photo app. You also have to activate it by yourself. So it's just logic that you don't deactivate this by uninstalling any photo app. I think this hasn't much to do with tech people or not. For me this artice sounds like an attempt to bloat it up as some sort of scandal or security issue. Everything for higher click rates. That's all.

10. vincelongman

Posts: 5693; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Exactly, you have to turn backup on in the first place IMO this is great, now I could uninstall Photos, use a third party app (e.g. QuickPic) and still have all my photos backedup to Google Drive

18. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010 in other words we are to believe ppl never synced, backed up their photos before the Photo app.... Or there are some new Android users that dont know how the process worked before Photos. This started in must have never used Google+ or used this in Google+.

19. waddup121 unregistered

Cool Google.

2. Martin_Cooper

Posts: 1774; Member since: Jul 30, 2013

This can, indeed, be confusing – “If the app is gone, the service should not be in use” is the common logic that most people would follow There isn't common logic with google, Its all about being sneaky and collecting as much s**t from you as possible to make money from showing you ads.

7. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

You are not giving us the completed picture. You actually has to trigger the sync to cloud option via the photo apps. Otherwise there no such feature by default. I have been using Dropbox camera sync option but my Samsung additional storage are expiring soon therefore i have to make an effort to switch to Photo sync. WP fan should just stick to WP phone.

14. willard12 unregistered

When you do initial setup of your device, YOU determine what does or doesn't bet synchonized. So yes, it's pretty common logic when 100% of users can simply turn off sync from the very beginning. Most OSs (including the ones with CEOs that claim not to) make money in ads. At least some give you an option from the beginning to not have those ads targeted. Ads haven't stopped you from coming to Phonearena and have encouraged Paul K. to create click bait articles to get you here.

25. Niva.

Posts: 440; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

Actually Google operates very logically as well as Android, this photo sync feature is related to your Google account and your device settings and while the Photos app may have been used to enable photo sync it is not a function which is exclusive to this app. Moving on now.

4. gaithggg

Posts: 5; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

just use one drive with 30 gig

5. Nine1Sickness

Posts: 896; Member since: Jan 30, 2011

99% of Android users are idiots that has all their info and pictures leaked to google.. Except for you guys, you guys are cool... Sike.

13. Shocky unregistered

The majority of Android users have phones heavily skinned by manufacturers with their own camera and gallery, the average user won't use Google+ or photos and will never upload any images. First they need know about auto backup and secondly they need to enable it.

15. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Exactly. Just seeing the headline I was like...isnt this part of backing up and not necessarily uploading to Photos? Backing up and syncing on Google came before Photos IIRC.

20. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

That guy can say whatever he wants. Google simply backup those pictures. No one but you (or Google employees or hakcers) can see it. I have to go into my Google+ to share it to the public for anyone to see. I have only done it once before. Beside, if you want to prevent Google to sync your photo, just turn it off or get enough senseless photos upload to there, and it won't be able to hold anymore other photos.

24. Blazers

Posts: 742; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

A very annoying thing is that Google Drive shares space with Photos and Google+. You could have basically a full Drive (because of Photos) with almost nothing in it. I know that lower quality photos are now free, but you're out of luck for your older pictures.

6. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

The way the article written is also very confusing. I can see that the Author is trying to troll Google but there not much to go about so he wrote writing an essay while the key point is to de-check the “Sync Photos” option if you don't want to sync to cloud.

9. 5kyNet

Posts: 23; Member since: Apr 08, 2015


11. DaneSlater

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 14, 2015

I'be been using syncing only selected pics on my phone. But I don't know with confusing user experience of google, i'll better try mega, read also called privacy company and with 50g free storage.

12. HugoBarraCyanogenmod

Posts: 1412; Member since: Jul 06, 2014

Seldom use Google services on my Android phone so very less problematic, waiting CM to kick Google's butt

17. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010 either: Want C (remember its not CM but C..) to make competing services....since you seldom use Google services. or you want to use a non google Android phone, a fork. Either dont have to wait for anyone since that option is available now. Forget dont have to use any Google services and still use the phone.

21. Shocky unregistered

You can still use other markets and sideload applications without Google services. The only issue I have with Google services is the battery drain and Google don't seem to be in a rush to fix it.

22. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

PhoneArena... Get an editor. You need one, badly. This article looks awfully similar to a recent article by Mihai A. Except, Mihai's article didn't contain FUD. That wouldn't happen if your website had any kind of communication & coordination that a respectable news aggregate would have. Oh, wait... I see this is just another click-bait piece by Paul K. I stopped coming to this site for a while due to the poor quality... I see I was not wrong. Embargo on.

23. darkkjedii

Posts: 31042; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Later dude.

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