During a bit of a rant about Google+ (or Google Plus) on yesterday's In Beta, I noted that one of the things I truly like about Google+ is its photo upload and backup service. The editing tools, the huge free space, the decent views of shared albums—I like them, but as a distinct service and entity, not as part of the Google Plus experience.
But that's the deal, right? You want your photos backed up to Google, you need to install Google+. Well, not exactly, it turns out.
The very worthy blog Google Operating System points to the stand-alone installer files for Google+ Auto Backup for Windows and Mac. Normally you would need to install Google's own Picasa photo management software to enable automatic uploads of any photos on your laptop or desktop, plus backups of any cameras or phones you plug into that computer.
Once you install the Auto Backup app and authenticate with your Google account, you can then have Google "watch" your computer and any connected devices for photos. When there are photos, it backs them up to your photo collection in Google+. If nothing else, it is just what it says: a good backup to have, in case computers or devices get lost. And I will say that, regardless of my other complaints with Google Plus, my photos have never been inadvertently made public. And for editing, auto-fixing, adding goofy hats, and turning multiple still shots into automatic GIFs, Google Plus Photos is not bad at all.