Over the last week, news of Google's annual I/O conference have filtered down through the various tech websites.

Most of these have been surrounding the upcoming next chapter in Android's evolution: Android M (as yet unnamed, though my money is on 'Milkshake'). There are easily entire articles surrounding each of the things Google announced at the conference but I'm not here to discuss them all. Today, I'm here to discuss one potentially huge update, and one that could be a real game-changer in its reborn form: Google Photos.

Is that it?I hear you ask. Granted, Google Photos is nothing new. It's been about for the past year or so, appearing unexpected and uninvited onto almost all Android handsets at some point or another as an alternative to your phone's native 'Gallery' app.

Some people used it. Some people ignored it. Many simply didn't even notice it. Up until last week, logging in to Google Photos for the first time demanded the user had a Google+ account, but that is no more. Google have finally broken this extremely good-looking gallery and picture-editing app free and given it its own much-deserved slot in the Play Store. They're revamped its design, added new features and shown us what's to expect in the refreshed Android design that was first unveiled in Lollipop.

But there are a number of reasons why this is so much more than just a refresh of an app, or a redesign of something old.

Visual Search

Let's face it, very few of us actually bother to sit and name each new picture we take. We see something we want to take a quick snap of, we grab our smartphones and we snap. Then when we want to have a quick look at it at a later date, we open the gallery and scroll down till we find it, hoping no one is looking as we do it and see the other random pictures we took before or after it (this can be quite embarrassing at times).

Well, with Google's latest update to its Photos service (both on the app and online), naming pictures is no longer necessary, nor is scrolling through endless pictures of rubbish to find what we're looking for.

Let's say you've taken a picture of your cat, Muffin (why did you call it Muffin? That's weird) and you want to show it to someone a week later. Now, rather than scrolling through a seemingly endless list of pictures of your beer in the sun, your new sneakers and a few selfies, you can simply open Photos and hit the search icon, type in 'Cat' and low and behold, only pictures you've taken of cats will show up.

How on earth is that possible?! Magic. Or maybe Google's new picture algorithm. Either way it's one of the smartest, coolest things I've seen them do in a while. Try it - it actually works. Try running a search for 'cat', 'tree', 'Christmas tree', 'Christmas', 'Beach' or any other endless number of searches and Google's Photos app will go and search through your snaps for what it feels are the items you're looking for. Nine times out of ten it will be spot on.

Automatic Photo-Enhancement

Photos has a built-in picture editor and it's by no means a weak player. I've personally tried a whole host of picture editing tools on my Android phones over the years, from Photoshop Express, to Pixlr Express and so on, and they're all great, but sometimes  you don't want a cumbersome app with fidgety controls just to make a snap look better before you send it on to a friend or fire it onto Facebook. Sometimes you just want a couple of taps and to get it gone so you can get back to whatever you're doing. Photos' pic-editor is just that. You can pick from a wide selection of pre-defined filters or get right in about editing them yourself but the key thing with Photos is that it will enhance every picture you take automatically as soon as you've taken it.

Was that last picture a little dark? Photos will brighten it up just a little. or darken it. Or up the colour, or the saturation, or the contrast. Whatever it feels would make that snap look better, it will do, subtly and unobtrusively. Naturally, you can flip it back to the original at the tap of the screen if you feel it's got it wrong, but I've never found myself doing that. Not once.

Auto Backup

Now here is where I feel the true game changer lies. Photos will automatically back up your pictures to Google Drive, as it always has, with a free and generous storage capacity of 15GB. But now, with this latest update, there is an option to have unlimited storage for your pictures.

Now there are a couple of catches with this, but not ones that are deal-breakers in my opinion.

Firstly, this only applies to pictures taken at 16MP or less. Fine if you're rocking a 16MP shooter or less, like most of us. If you're a Sony Z-something wielding snapper, you'll have to down the quality to 16MP or edit after shot.

Secondly, the file itself will be reduced in size, but not - Google promises - in a way that will in any way, shape or form diminish the beauty and quality of the picture. It will, according to Google, use a clever sequence of algorithms to reduce size without reducing quality. Now I've had a chance to try this out and (so far) found this to be a true statement. I've not noticed any difference in the pictures I've taken once they've been downsized. They still appear as sharp and crisp both on my phone and on the computer after the reduction has taken place.

Also, given how many people actually do much with their smartphone snaps beside view them on their phones or upload them to Facebook (which decreases quality in itself), this shouldn't matter too much anyway.

The reason I feel this could be such an important feature is that for years many of us have relied on the likes of Dropbox cloud storage providers to auto-upload our smartphone shots and store them safely but always with a limit to the amount we can store before we have to start paying monthly subscriptions. No one has ever offered us unlimited free storage before and now that Google has decided to, I believe the reduction in file size will be a price most people are prepared to pay which could see at least a small dent in the number of people prepared to pay the likes of Dropbox and others for increased storage capacity if they're using it primarily for pictures.

So that pretty much sums up my thoughts on the new Google Photos update. Whether you've been using it for years already, like myself, or you're new to the app, head over to the Play Store now and give it a download. It will link up with your existing Google account and you'll be up and running in no time.

Let us know your thoughts on this, both as an app update and as a free unlimited picture storage service in the comments below.