Amazon Prime Photos has been given a refresh thanks to new features designed to improve discovery, engagement, and sharing. Starting today, U.S. Prime members can use what’s called a “Family Vault”, which grants unlimited photo storage to 5 family members at no additional cost. In addition, the service now supports smarter search technology and photo printing with free delivery.
“Prime members love the benefit of unlimited photo storage, but often struggle to collect and organize photos across multiple devices and accounts into a single, shareable archive,” explained Amazon’s director of Prime Photos David Nenke. “We launched the Family Vault to make it easy for family members to safely store and share all their favorite moments.”
Amazon said Prime Photos has tens of millions of users and this will be widely available in just the U.S. starting Tuesday. The Family Vault initiative could be a way for the company to highlight how scalable its infrastructure is and that it’s able to protect the moments families cherish the most, further differentiating itself from Dropbox, Flickr, Facebook, Google Photos, and Microsoft OneDrive.
“Primarily, Prime members have used the Prime Photos service to store their photos and video. With Family Vault, we expect Prime members are their friends/family included in the Vault will be able to share photos with each other, and also link out photos with social media, etc,” a company spokesperson told VentureBeat.
Those that are bequeathed the gift of Prime Photos will have unlimited storage for photos, but 5 GB of videos. Users don’t have to be a Prime user and they can also be friends. They’ll retain these features as long as one person has a Prime account. However, if the Prime member cancels or fails to renew their membership, everyone will still have access to view and download their photos for up to 90 days, but Family Vault members are prohibited from uploading new content.
Other updates include an improved search engine that will now find photos and videos using technology that’s reminiscent of image recognition and pertinent tags. Instead of scouring through thousands of photos to find specific images, you can now query “sunset” or “wedding” in order to surface the right image from that trip you took two years ago. Users can browse the photos of individual family members and friends in the people view, along with search by location and date.
Lastly, Amazon is giving Prime members the option to print out photos stored within its cloud service. Uncovered in September, Amazon Prints lets you print photos starting at $0.09 each with books starting at $20. The program is designed to compete against Shutterfly, Blurb, Costco, and many similar services. With all this storage, some people may want a more tangible keepsake of their memories, which is where Amazon Prints can come in handy.
All of these features are accessible to those with Amazon Prime membership, and also comes after the online retailer stealthily shuttered its unlimited photos storage plan in favor of making the product exclusively for Prime members.