Google One offers more online disk space, little else

Unlike other cloud storage vendors, Google wraps up extra capacity into a kind of membership program with a host of benefits, but it falls short of its promise.

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When Google started asking for what will be $5 per month for Play Pass, its hastily thrown-together answer to Apple Arcade, it seemed like a good time to consider my experience with one of its other subscription services: Google One. 

Google One is at its core a $20-per-year subscription that nets you 100GB of Google Drive storage ($30 for 200 GB) atop whatever your quota is now (usually a generous 15GB to start) and unlimited free technical support via email, chat, or even phone. You can even share some of these perks with other family members if, for example, you'd like to spread the wealth of your cloud storage. You also get a nice rainbow-colored circle around your account profile pic and a few months of YouTube Premium.

But there are some caveats. Google markets its expanded disk space as enabling you to store your photos in their original resolution. That might be interpreted as a way to obtain a benefit usually reserved for users of Google's Pixel phone (and even then, only for photos taken by the Pixel at least until next year). As the Google One webpage puts it (emphasis mine): 

"Your life, uncompressed. Keep your photos and videos in full resolution, without worrying about space. There's plenty of room to save images at their original quality with Google Photos, so your memories always stay sharp."

However, unlike with the Pixel, original resolution photos count against your storage quota. You may be able to store more photos in their original resolution, but likely not all of them, unless you have a pretty modest photo collection or are filling up floppies at a furious rate from a 1990s-vintage Sony Mavica. The limitation is also a bit counterintuitive, as the core of what you're paying for with Google One is storage -- whereas, with the Pixel, photos, locally stored ones at that, are but part of the proposition.

Unlike the photo storage, the tech support is truly unlimited in terms of usage. Google One would be easily worth its fee if it could bridge the wide gap between the company's near-invisibility as a personal entity versus the level of support Apple or Microsoft provides at their physical stores. However, the support only applies to a handful of Google services centered around Google One itself.

In the first few months, I contacted Google One support about a range of issues, including a Google Play Games ID conflict, Google Home calendar access, and a Google account addition on an Android phone. The team made the most earnest attempt with the first one and even took remote control of my phone to try to resolve it.

But the support staff ultimately handed me off to the app developer, which contradicted what Google said. The issue remained unresolved, and I had to come up with a workaround when I gave up a service that I was relying on. For the other two issues, Google handed me off to email support, which was a poor way to troubleshoot the issues. I ultimately came up with a fix independently for the third issue but never resolved the second one. 

Google One is fine as a way to expand your Drive storage, but don't look for much value beyond that.

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