Proton Drive’s photo backups on Android, and a determined pursuit for pertinence

We may be drawing the curtain on 2023, but privacy focused software company Proton isn’t content gently coasting into the new year. They’ve been busy. In the past couple of weeks, Proton has completed the app puzzle for Proton Drive cloud storage with the release of one for macOS. They’ve also added a high-security Proton Sentinel programme for Proton Plus subscribers, a slew of updates for Proton Mail including a beta app for Android and advanced sender blocks on iOS, as well as end-to-end encryption in Calendar.

Unlike cloud storage services from Big Tech, Proton Drive’s use of end-to-end encryption ensures your private photos cannot be leaked. (Official image)
Unlike cloud storage services from Big Tech, Proton Drive’s use of end-to-end encryption ensures your private photos cannot be leaked. (Official image)

Possibly the last big release (we cannot be too sure, can we?) for the year from the company is a fairly substantial update for Proton Drive for Android, that enables photo and video backups too. With this feature addition, Proton Drive’s push for relevance as a cloud storage alternative to Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive, gains greater traction. The three aforementioned apps, also allow photo and video backups to the cloud.

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Focus remains steadfast on security and integrity of files a user sends to cloud storage. “Photos in Proton Drive goes beyond backups, it can also serve as a replacement photos app that offers intuitive photo management and browsing. Unlike cloud storage services from Big Tech, Proton Drive’s use of end-to-end encryption ensures your private photos cannot be leaked, even in the unlikely event that Proton Drive itself is breached,” says Andy Yen, founder and CEO of Proton.

But this is where Android’s complexities come to the fore. Google Photos for Android is a better bet than Drive, because of extensive artificial intelligence (AI) enabled editing features. Also true for Android in particular, it will be a hard-sell to get users to switch from what may likely feel like habits curated over a period of time – reaching out to tap on Google Photos or an Android phone’s own Gallery app (for instance, Samsung’s Gallery embeds OneDrive syncing).

This is where Proton Drive going that extra step to become a wholesale replacement for an Android device’s gallery or photos app will help. OneDrive and Dropbox, for instance, are purely backup-oriented, and don’t go much beyond that in terms of functionality. The company tells HT that the Photos tab will include a monthly grid view, “providing an aesthetically pleasing and organized method to browse and manage photos”. This intuitive interface will make it easier for users to select, download, preview, or delete photos and videos. All photo formats, including high efficiency ones, will be supported.

However, Proton Drive doesn’t include any photo or video editing options, at least for now. The biggest advantage, as you’d expect from cloud storage, being cross device availability of your photos and videos.

In terms of pricing, there is the mix of free and premium subscriptions. The free plan get 1GB storage space, though it’s likely to fill up faster than you imagine. There is also a Drive Plus plan (which, as the name suggests, gets you more cloud storage) for $3.99 per month (around 330 per month) for 200GB of storage space.

Proton’s Unlimited plan which costs $9.99 per month (around 830 per month) extends the storage space to 500GB alongside Proton Mail, Proton VPN, and Proton Pass premium features. The Proton Family plan, that can be shared with up to six more users, includes 3TB storage space for around $19.99 (around 1,660 for a 24-month subscription).

It has been a busy time for Proton. Late last month, the Proton Drive app for Apple’s macOS computing devices was released. That means all boxes are ticked off, including already released apps for Windows, Android, iOS and iPadOS. The cross platform native app support is important for Proton’s ecosystem play that includes Proton Mail, Proton Pass and the very popular Proton VPN. After all, its competition also has strong bundles for their subscriptions.

Google has Gmail, Drive storage between 100GB and 2TB, Photos and VPN (though that’s specifically not been launched in India yet). Microsoft 365 includes the suite of productivity apps including Word and Excel, Microsoft Defender, OneDrive storage up to 1TB and Outlook.

Proton Pass has now been updated with the high-security Proton Sentinel program that makes the end-to-end encrypted password protection even more secure, by curtailing cyberattacks. A new Proton Mail app is in beta testing for Android devices while there have been interface and functionality updates to the iOS and iPadOS versions as well.

Proton confirms that the Photo Backup functionality on Proton Drive is now available to all users, on Android devices. If you are wondering about your iPhone, all we know for now is this functionality will “follow at a later date after a closed beta period.”

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