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Apple launches a service to transfer your iCloud Photos collection to Google Photos

If you were hoping Apple would launch a dedicated service to transfer your iCloud Photos collection to a third-party service, well, the wait is over.

Apple has launched a new service (via MacRumors) that will transfer a copy of your iCloud Photos collection to another service. In this case, a copy to Google Photos. The company’s official support document on the new service says that it can copy both photos and videos to the alternative cloud storage option. As long as the content is appropriately stored in iCloud and attached to a valid Apple ID.

You actually have to request the copy and transfer. The company says that the transfer doesn’t alter or remove the photos stored in iCloud. Just transfers them over to the other service.

Apple also notes in the support document that the whole process can take between three and seven business days. The company says this time is spent confirming that the owner of the Apple ID is making the request, and then for the transfer itself.

From the support document, a few other things to be aware of:

Some data and formats available in iCloud Photos—such as Smart Albums, Live Photos, or some RAW files—may not be available when you transfer your content to another service. More information about what data is transferred is listed below.

The company also has an important note in the document:

If you add more photos or videos to iCloud Photos before your data transfer starts, you’ll need additional space in your Google account to complete it. If your Google account runs out of space during the transfer, not all of your items will be transferred. If you add, update, or delete content after the transfer starts, or if your images and videos are still uploading, these changes or additions might not be included in the transfer.

To start the transfer request, you’ll need to go to privacy.apple.com and sign in. There is an option to “Transfer a copy of your data”, which you should select. There will be onscreen prompts, which the user needs to select to finish the process.

The user will receive an email confirming the transfer request. Apple will send another email when the transfer is  complete.

The support document says that only photos and videos stored in iCloud Photos will be transferred. In most cases, the original format will be used for the transfer. However, in some cases the transfer can transition to industry-standard formats.

And then here’s the rest:

  • The transfer includes copies of photos and videos that you store in iCloud Photos, associated with your Apple ID. Formats include: .jpg, .png, .webp, .gif, some RAW files, .mpg, .mod, .mmv, .tod, .wmv, .asf, .avi, .divx, .mov, .m4v, .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .m2t, .m2ts, .mts, and .mkv files.
  • Only the most recent edit of the photo is transferred and not the original version. Duplicates appear as just one photo.
  • Whenever possible, photos are transferred with their albums. Videos are transferred separately, without their albums.
  • Once transferred to Google, the filenames of albums and videos start with “Copy of.”
  • Some content—including shared albums, smart albums, photo stream content, live photos, some metadata, and photos and videos stored in other folders or locations—is not transferred at all.

The new transfer tool is available now in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland.

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