dropbox carousel vs google photos

Product design analysis: Dropbox Carousel vs Google Photos

“What should I use to save my photos online?” Kim asked.

“I use Dropbox. They have this nifty camera uploader that automatically uploads all of my photos to the cloud.” I responded. “The thing is, it costs $99/year. It seems like a waste if we’re both paying for it.”

Kim did a quick search on the app store for photo storage. “How about Google Photos? It’s free and it seems easy enough to use.”

The motivation behind using photo cloud storage is very functional: I want to save my photos online so that they are never lost. Through its function-focused design, Dropbox Carousel achieves its simple purpose.

It’s hard to get someone to switch products, even if you offer something slightly better. Amazon Photo came out with a free service, but I didn’t make the switch from Carousel to Amazon. I ignored the free product because the functionality was basically the same and $99 was not a big enough pain for me to make the change.

However, after watching Kim use Google Photos for a week, I immediately jumped ship from Carousel and made the move to Google Photos.

This is the power of human-focused design over function-focused design.

In this post, we will examine why I made the switch from Carousel to Google Photos and how a human-focused design beats a function-focused design every time.

Dropbox Carousel: function-focused design

dropbox-carousel

Carousel makes it incredibly simple to upload photos, free up iPhone space, and organize and browse photos chronologically. These are great examples of Core Drive 2 (Development and Accomplishment) and Core Drive 4 (Ownership and Possession). These Left-Brain Core Drives give me extrinsic motivation to use Carousel.

The challenge with extrinsic motivation: I am motivated to store my memories; however, the task in itself of uploading photos is not fun. Therefore, once I have completely uploaded my memories (and feel accomplished because of it), I have very little motivation to keep using Carousel (unless I want to see old memories of course).

In addition, I am driven to immediately use Carousel to protect my memories and I am hesitant to stop using Carousel because I don’t want to lose the memories that I’ve uploaded to it. These are great example of Core Drive 8 (Loss and Avoidance). This is a Black Hat Core Drive that gives me the urgency to sign up to Carousel.

The challenge with Black Hat Core Drives: Black Hat Core Drives give the user urgency, but it doesn’t create long-lasting, evergreen motivation. Therefore, once I have uploaded my memories, I have very little motivation to keep opening to app.

dropbox function focused design

Octalysis analysis

  • Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning and Calling
    • Score: 0
  • Core Drive 2: Development and Accomplishment
    • Score: 3
      • I feel smart using the app because it’s so easy to upload my photos
      • I feel accomplished when I free up space on my iPhone
      • I feel accomplished when all my memories are safe and secure
  • Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback
    • Score: 1
      • I can create albums and share them with friends
  • Core Drive 4: Ownership and Possession
    • Score: 6
      • I have all of my memories stored in one place
  • Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness
    • Score: 1
      • I can share my photos and albums with friends
  • Core Drive 6: Scarcity and Impatience
    • Score: 0
  • Core Drive 7: Unpredictability and Curiosity
    • Score: 1
      • Carousel has a flashback feature that shows me random memories (this feature never properly worked for me, which is why I’m giving it such a low score)
  • Core Drive 8: Loss and Avoidance
    • Score: 5
      • I need to urgently protect my memories
      • I need to urgently clear space on my iPhone
      • I can’t quite Carousel because all of my memories would be lost
  • Total score: 73 out of 800

Carousel is shutting down soon, but I don’t feel the least bit sad about it. I can easily replace it with another function-focused app like Amazon Photo. This is the challenge with Black Hat design: there is no long-term loyalty, so it’s easy to lose a user to a competitor.

Let’s examine why Google Photos wins the photo cloud storage space.

Google Photos: human-focused design

google-photos-octalysis

Like Carousel, Google Photos makes it very easy to save my memories; however, it gives a deeper level of Left Brain Core Drives by adding more meaning Core Drive 2 (through the feeling of accomplishment when I easily edit my photos and stories) and creating Core Drive 6 (Scarcity and Impatience). When I first downloaded the app, I checked it every hour to see if Google had created more stories and movies.

Google Photos balances Left-Brain extrinsic motivation with Right-Brain intrinsic motivation: I spent hours playing with the stories and movies that Google Photos auto generates. I joyfully modified the footage, changed the music, and even played with the filters, which are great examples of Core Drive 3 (Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback). This is the beauty of intrinsic motivation: the act of creating is fun in itself.

Google Photos is also heavy on Black Hat design, creating a mild sense of addiction when I first downloaded it: I was opening the app so often that I had to enable push notifications to alert me when there was a new story or movie. That’s how powerful Core Drive 7 (Unpredictability and Curiosity) is. I was super excited and curious about the cool things that Google Photos could do with my memories.

google photos octalysis

  • Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning and Calling
    • Score: 0
  • Core Drive 2: Development and Accomplishment
    • Score: 5
      • Like Carousel, I feel smart using the app because it’s easy to back up photos and clear up space on my iPhone
      • I feel accomplished when I successfully customize stories and movies
  • Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback
    • Score: 6
      • I have fun customizing stories, movies, and albums
  • Core Drive 4: Ownership and Possession
    • Score: 7
      • Like Carousel, all my memories are stored in one place
      • I have smart albums with organized memories that are not available on any other app
  • Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness
    • Score: 2
      • I can easily share my photos and albums with friends
  • Core Drive 6: Scarcity and Impatience
    • Score: 5
      • I checked the app every hour to hopefully find new stories and movies
  • Core Drive 7: Unpredictability and Curiosity
    • Score: 6
      • I’m excited to discover new stories and movies
      • I’m curious about what kind of smart photo-groupings Google can come up with next
  • Core Drive 8: Loss and Avoidance
    • Score: 6
      • I can’t quite Google Photos because all of my custom memories would be lost
  • Total score: 211 out of 800

Google Photos weaknesses

Google Photos is weak in Core Drive 1 (Epic Meaning and Calling) because there is no greater purpose for using the photo app.

It is also weak in Core Drive 5 (Social Influence and Relatedness) because I haven’t interacted with friends or family while using the app — in fact, it seems that there is a trend that the apps and tools Google builds are weak in Core Drive 5 (when is the last time you used Google+?).

How to use Core Drive 5 to improve Google Photos

Photos and memories are better when experienced with friends and family.

people album google photos

A feature that I love is the auto-generated People Album. To implement Core Drive 5, Google can create an opt-in feature to automatically share any new people photos in my album with the person. In essence, it would be an auto-shared album where I automatically share photos with my friends and family when I take pictures of them.

This could be a great user acquisition channel because my brother Jay would get a notification from me: download the Google Photos app to check out all of the photos Jun has of you.

google photosgoogle photos things

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google could take this one step further and create shared Places and Things Albums. If this double opt-in feature is enabled, then Google would show you photos of friends when they have been to the same places as you, and when they have taken photos of things that are similar to yours. This would also add a layer of Core Drive 7 because a user is curious to see how their friends are related to them.

The power of human-focused design

Carousel is a good photo app because it gets the job done; however, because it lacks Right-Brain and White Hat core drives, the user lacks loyalty to the app and has very low motivation to use it frequently.

By using human-focused design, Google created an app with an entirely different and better experience, motivating me and many others to switch away from Carousel and to Google Photos.

Yu-kai, consider this my official application to Octalysis Level 1.

Published by

Jun Loayza

Jun Loayza is the Chief Growth Officer at Bunny Inc. In his startup experience, he has sold 2 technology companies and raised $1M in angel funding. Jun lives in San Francisco, CA with his wife Kim.

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