Google Files is picking up a new trick to delete old backed-up photos
Google Photos might not feature free unlimited storage anymore, but if you pay for extra space, it’s still an amazing tool that only keeps getting better. The app allows you to keep your precious photos, videos, and memories backed up in the cloud (and off the cloud as well, if you’re into that) and easily accessible from anywhere. Since photos backed up to the cloud don’t need to also remain in your phone’s local storage, deleting them can free up a nice chunk of device space for you. If you also happen to use Google Files, this process can now be automated thanks to Smart Storage.
The mode comes to Pixel phones by way of the Files by Google app (via 9to5Google), and if you enable the option, old photographs and videos stored locally on your phone will be automatically deleted if they’ve previously been backed up to Google Photos. Since you probably don’t want all those vanishing the very second they’re backed up to the cloud, Smart Storage will wait 60 days before deleting.
If you were thinking that this sounds an awful lot like another, much older Android feature with very similar functionality, it’s because you’re right. All the way back in 2016, Android Nougat did introduce something called “Smart Storage” that allowed you to automatically delete old photos, videos, downloaded files, and even apps; this new Smart Storage is only present on in Files by Google. The Google Photos app itself also allows you to delete backed-up pictures, but the process is manual.
This functionality appears to be limited to Pixels for the time being, and while it may expand to other Android phones in the future, it’s still too early to say. The mode also appears to be an Android 12 exclusive at the moment, as we couldn’t get it to show up on a Pixel still running 11. The app points users to a support page to learn more about Smart Storage, but oddly enough, it doesn’t seem to be live yet.
If you have a Pixel running the Android 12 Beta, then updating the app should give you access to the new feature. For everyone else, though, your mileage may vary.