Google Photos printing subscription is closing after just four months

There has been a renaissance of interest in printed photos, partly thanks to the popularity of Instagram's square format and the return of instant-print "Polaroid" cameras. The latter, of course, means you'll have to carry another camera or at least buy a small pocket printer whose only use is to print such framed photos. If that sounds like more a hassle, Google thought so, too. It also thought it could make a small business out of printing photos for you but it turned out not to be that hot after all.

Not to be confused with the still-existing service that Google provides for printing photo books, this subscription service was announced last February with a very specific and odd purpose. It would something like a combination of a monthly mystery box, Polaroid photo prints, and AI, all for an intended $8 per month fee.

Long story short, Google Photos, not to be confused with the mobile app and cloud storage, proposed picking 10 of your favorite photos taken that month, picked by a secret blend of AI and machine learning, of course. This semi-random selection will then be sent to you every month to put up somewhere, shared with friends, or scanned and then posted online. Though you could have probably done that more directly with the original digital photos.

Even before the service could fully launch, Google is apparently shutting it down on June 30. Since it's still in its free trial period, there are no charges to be refunded anyway. And if you receive a monthly review email before June 25, you'll still get one last batch of photos before the service ends.

Truth be told, the Google Photos subscription was a rather odd idea anyway and early testers didn't seem so satisfied with how it was implemented. Add the fact that the sale and delivery of physical goods have become riskier these days, it makes sense for Google to put this business on hold. And "on hold" seems to be the proper term since its letter suggests it could be coming back someday.