Disclaimer: I am primarily a Mac user and a full time Mac Admin.
TLDR: Google Photos won the consumer photo storage game, get over it.
While Apple fussed over features and evolving a new photo product unfortunately called "Photos" from the ashes of the dying corpse of iPhoto... Google took a hard left turn from Picasa and released their own new cloud photo storage solution, Google Photos.
Like all Google efforts... at first it was frustrating, obtuse, poorly documented and unpolished but powerful!
Unlike many Google products, they kept working on it and it's still evolving quickly.
It's not a Pro Photographer solution yet. If you shoot RAW and want to store RAW, use Smugmug or another service tooled for pros.
If you are an iOS, Android, Windows or Mac user and are not shooting RAW... create a free Gmail account, install the app on your phone, hook it up and you have free unlimited storage of large version Jpegs for life.
Yes, Apple Photos will eventually zip past this solution with features and elegance, but you will have to wait for it to grow and it will always lack the massive power of Google search built in.
Offering free unlimited storage as Google and Amazon Prime have done (for photos) comes with some hidden costs to privacy.
Yes, they are probably using your photos to figure out what brands you buy and how much money you make and who your friends are. If you don't like that, start looking at Zero Knowledge cloud services like SpiderOak.
I don't shoot anything important or private, I just shoot and store a lot of reference images.
Once i unhooked my iPhone and iPad from iCloud storage for photos and connected Google Photos, the biggest leap forward was the way I am able to handle free space of the phone.
When your iPhone and iCloud storage start to fill up, Apple pushes more cloud space for more money. Hello 2005!
If iCloud was world class, I would absolutely pay for extra storage space. Sadly, Apple isn't even in 3rd place in the cloud based photo storage game. It's currently outshined in cost, ease of use, and features by several other products that already run as apps on iOS and as browser based and desktop based applications on the Mac. Apple Photos in iCloud has tight OS integration, that's it.
I can't stress enough that most users don't understand cloud storage vs. local storage and are too afraid to ask anyone so they just pay. These are smart people with smartphones who don't have time to learn why their phone can take giant pictures but doesn't seem to have enough memory to save as many photos as their old crappy phone did.
Google Photos allows me to clear space on my phone by removing pics that have already synched to the cloud. The app interface allows me to see my cloud albums and scroll through them easily, there is no reason for people to carry around 2000 photos on their phones.
Google added some algorithms that look at your stuff and produce random art from it. If you check the Assistant panel after you have a decent amount of content, you will find stylized photos, movies and animated gifs made by their AI art bot. The quality of the content is mostly "first draft" but they are way ahead of everyone at offering you a new way to look at deep cuts in your giant photo library.
There are many Photo storage and organizing tools with more polish and features, you can spend countless hours testing all of them like I did, you will circle right back to this point. Free, fast, great search, simple UI, platform agnostic. Integrated with other services if you want or need that (Calendar, Email, Drive, Contacts etc...) and it's been improving steadily.
Nice work Google.