Although Google Photos is a suitable application for iPhone, you will find the iCloud functionality in the Apple Photos application. There is no separate app known as iCloud Photos. ICloud is an online storage service offered to Apple users, and iCloud Photos is one of them. Even though Google Photos also saves your images online to the cloud, it doesn't use iCloud. The Google cloud saves images.
Let's start the comparison between Google Photos and iCloud.
Google Photos and Apple Photos are gallery apps with additional features. You can use both to view photos taken on iPhone or iPad without uploading them to the cloud. The functionality to back up to the cloud is optional in both.
On Google Photos, you need to activate it from the settings of the application itself by activating Save and synchronize. Once activated, find out who can see your images in Google Photos.
In the Apple Photos app, you need to open the settings on your phone and go to Photos. Then activate the toggle for iCloud photos.
There is another difference between the two. In Google Photos, existing images in the Google Photos cloud automatically synchronize with your iPhone even if backup and synchronization are disabled. They don't occupy any storage space on your phone as they are present in the cloud. On the other hand, you need to activate iCloud Photos to sync your existing photos in iCloud with your iPhone.
Supported devices and accounts
The iCloud service is limited to Apple devices such as iPhone, Mac and iPad, where it is preinstalled. Fortunately, you can also access iCloud Photos via the web. Google Photos is available on iOS and Android. You can even use it on the web.
As for the account, iCloud relies on your Apple ID. Google Photos, as the name suggests, only uses Google accounts.
Since the main use of both is for backing up your photos in the cloud, the available storage space plays an important role. On iCloud, you only get 5 GB of free storage, which includes space for all apps like Photos, Mail, Notes, Contacts, and even Drive. If you want, you can upgrade your storage plan or free up iCloud storage.
On the other hand, Google offers 15 GB of free space. Here too, cloud storage is shared among various Google products such as Photos, Drive, Keep, etc. Read in detail on what matters in Google Drive storage.
However, Google Photos has a major advantage over iCloud as it allows you to upload an unlimited number of images. For this you will need to choose the high quality setting instead of the original quality when asked how you want to download.
The catch is that your photos are compressed in 16MP and the videos in 1080p. For a regular user, that would be enough. But if you're a photographer, you may want to use the Original Quality mode and then upgrade your storage later. Another benefit is that you can also change your existing uploaded photos to high quality without uploading them again.
At first glance, the two apps look like the different tabs at the bottom. But when you look closely, there are huge differences. For starters, Google Photos displays the most recent photos at the top, making it easier to access. On the other hand, the Apple Photos app displays them in reverse chronological order with the most recent ones at the bottom.
Second, although the search is present at the top in the case of Google Photos, it appears as a tab in the bottom row of Apple Photos. In addition, both allow you to change the layout of your photos. In Google Photos, this must be done via the settings, and on Apple Photos, you can modify it via the back button at the top.
One useful thing about Google Photos is that it makes it clear what is backed up in the cloud and what is not. You will see a small cloud icon with a slash on it on photos saved on your phone only and not in the cloud. Images and videos saved in the cloud will have no icons. There is no way to know what syncs with Apple Photos.
Modification of capacities
While both allow you to edit your photos offline and online, Apple Photos offers more editing options such as editing curves and colors.
However, after editing your photos, Apple Photos overwrites the existing photo on your phone and in iCloud (if enabled). Your old photo is gone. Fortunately, Google gives you the option to save the edited photo as a copy instead of replacing the original.
If you don't like the default editing features, you can download third-party editing apps on Android and iOS.
As an iPhone user, if you like the search ability of Apple Photos, you will like it in Google Photos because you can search for anything, and it will will show the results without fail.
However, there is a downside in Google Photos. Search only works for photos saved online. So if you use it as a simple gallery app on your iPhone, the search will not display photos offline. This is not the case with Apple Photos. It works for photos both on your phone and in iCloud.
While both offer facial recognition, location markup, and grouping of photos on themes, Google Photos is slightly ahead of the curve as it applies incredible machine learning features. For example, it will automatically create a video based on important moments in your photos. Likewise, it includes a built-in Google lens which additionally offers smart features such as copying text, identifying images, etc.
Free up local space
When online functionality is enabled in apps, they continuously upload your new images to their respective cloud services. In both apps, photos are stored both on your phone and in a cloud by default.
If your iPhone runs out of storage, you can free up local storage. Although both offer functionality, it works differently. On Google Photos, when you use the Free up space option, the local photos are deleted completely from your phone. But, they stay in the cloud. In the app, you only see a thumbnail. Tapping on the photo will get it from the cloud and show it to you. You need a working internet connection to view these photos.
On the other hand, when iCloud is activated, you get an option in the form of optimizing iPhone storage to free up local space.
When activated, your phone keeps the original photos and videos in iCloud and replaces them with a compressed version to save space on the phone. Unlike Google Photos, where images are deleted entirely from your phone with no space afterward, images continue to take up a small amount of space using Optimize Storage in iCloud because local copy (even if small) exists always.
Google Photos allows you to share your images and videos in several ways. You can either share them via the installed applications, or publish them directly on social networks. You can even link and share it with others via any platform.
In addition, you can share photos with Google Photos contacts or create shared albums where others can also add photos. On top of that, you can even share your entire library with someone using the partner account feature. Learn more about how Google Photos sharing works.
Apple Photos or iCloud offers fewer ways to share. You can either create a shared album that only works on Apple and Windows devices. Or you can share the images via installed apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. In the latter case, the recipient does not need to have an iCloud account as the photo is shared directly.
Which one to use
In a nutshell, you can say that Google Photos is a backup and sync service while iCloud Photos only offers sync capability. This means that once you have deleted the photo, it is deleted from everywhere. This is not the case with Google Photos, where the photos are saved in the cloud, and you can free up space on your phone. So if you are looking for a backup service, Google Photos is a good choice.
In addition, it is available on all platforms. You can access it on all devices, unlike iCloud, which is limited in nature. What's the point of saving photos to the cloud if you can't access them everywhere? Finally, you get unlimited storage in Google Photos. What else do we want from a cloud service?
What is your choice
If you want to deactivate iCloud, know what happens when you do it. You can even uninstall Google Photos if it doesn't suit you. And if you liked both, you can continue to use them together. Each operates separately, so it wouldn't be a problem. And if you don't like it either, check out their alternatives on iPhone.
Then: Have you added the wrong account to Google Photos? Know how to delete an account and what happens by doing it from the given link.