Sneaky Google Photos Continues Uploading Images Even After You Delete App

When Google announced in May that it was offering unlimited photo and video storage for free via its revamped Photos app, there was much celebration. Confetti poured out from building windows onto the streets, enemies became friends, and the nation's leaders declared and end to all conflicts, finally ushering in an era of world peace.

Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. However, what Google did was pretty awesome, and having an unlimited bin in the cloud was just part of the story. The retooled app made it even easier to organize your images and videos, tag people, and search through large libraries without needing to use complex terms and descriptors.

Oh, but there was a catch, only we didn't know about it at the time. David A. Arnott, an assistant news editor for Nashville Business Journal, stumbled onto a disturbing feature of Google Photos. After giving the service a test run, Arnott ultimately decided to stick with Flickr, primarily because he likes to share photos with a select group of family and friends and didn't want to task them with learning a new app and tools.

Google Photos

Arnott deleted Google Photos from his smartphone and went on his merry way. Over a month later, he re-downloaded the app to see what changes Google made. To his surprise, he found hundreds of images that Google sniped from his phone, even though he had uninstalled the app.

"They weren't synced from my phone in that moment, because I always delete photos from my device once they've been uploaded," Arnott explained. "My phone must have been uploading to pictures to Google Photos even though I didn't have Google Photos on my phone."

This is a reproducible feature, if you want to call it that. When Arnott reached out to Google for an explanation, he was simply told "the backup was as intended." A Google spokesperson followed up the terse statement by telling Arnott he'd need to change settings in Google Play Services if he doesn't want his photos automatically uploaded, even without the app installed.

Not cool, Google. And after all that confetti, too! In any event, if you've tried out Google Photos and decided it's not for you, be warned that uninstalling the app doesn't change the backup settings that you might have agreed to. Instead, you'll need to go into the Google Settings app and tap on Google Photos Backup to make the necessary adjustments.