Google Photos, Picassa, Gallery sync mess on Android

I have a Samsung Galaxy S2 (Android 4.1.2) and its image gallery apps and sync had become a complete mess.

The phone came with a Gallery application but I later added Google Photos.

In 2015 I had the following sync settings related to photos/galleries (found via Settings -> Accounts -> Google -> [click on my email address]):

  • Sync Google Photos
  • Sync Google Photo Backups
  • Sync Picassa Web Albums

Syncing Google Photos and Picassa Web Albums was working, but syncing Google Photo Backups would eat up up all battery life, to the point where the phone just crashed. This destroyed two batteries due to overheating and corrupted my encrypted SD card (really bad news!) before I figured out the cause. It doesn’t help that the process identifies itself as Android System on the battery settings page.

Sync Google Photos

In 2016 the ‘Sync Google Photos’ is no longer listed. I haven’t installed or uninstalled any apps. Perhaps an app update changed it. Who f*ing knows.

I never did figure out exactly what this option was doing, nor which application was responsible for it. Now that it’s disappeared I’m going to give up on it.

According to some web sites I read, ‘Sync Google Photos’ is what shows photos from the web on your device i.e. allows you to browse your online photos on your phone.

Sync Google Photo Backups

‘Sync Google Photo Backups’ is what copies photos from your device to the web i.e. this is the service that actually backs up your photos.

The Google Photos app is responsible for ‘Sync Google Photo Backups’. The option itself is fairly useless, in that turning it off won’t stop Google Photos syncing (in fact it will enable the option again when your phone next restarts).

To control how Google Photos syncs, go to its menu -> Settings -> Backup & sync.

Added annoyance

If you disable Google Photos sync, it resets the ‘Upload size’ setting (but no others by the looks of it) so if you’d chosen to an upload size of ‘original’, it will reset it to ‘High quality’ when you turn backup back on again.

Sync Picassa Web Albums

Turns out that the Gallery application is responsible for the ‘Sync Picassa Web Albums’. This brings your Picassa albums in to the Gallery app, so you can view your Picassa albums on your phone.


Last modified: 27/02/2016 Tags: , ,

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