Attendees gather before the start of the opening keynote during the 2015 Google I/O conference / Getty

Like what Gmail did for email, the new photos app harnesses Google’s search power for people’s image collections

Google has launched a new photo tool, using Google’s search power to stop people getting lost in huge photo libraries.

The tool, Google Photos, stores and backs up images in the cloud – with absolutely no limit – and then indexes them all, so that people can find memorable moments. The app can “understand what’s important”, the company claims, meaning that people can look through photos that contain the “people, places and things that matter most”.

The tool is available for Android, iOS and on the web.

Google announced the new service alongside an offer of unlimited photo storage. The service will keep photos at their full resolution – intended so that people can keep their entire photo collection with Google.

The service can recognise people in photos, for instance, and collect images that contain loved ones into a special collection. It can also do the same for locations, grouping together pictures that were all taken at one particular place.

Google Photos does so using “machine learning” – computers that think more like humans do, and so are able to think about pictures in the same way. As such, it can recognise faces, grouping selfies together for easy sharing or deleting.

Like Apple’s Photos app and Flickr, Google Photos is intended to store all of a users’ photos, including those taken long before the service was actually launched. As with those competitors, it keeps all of those in one long time line that can be flicked through.

The app also has special editing and sharing features. That means that people can edit together videos – adding music and removing clips – or share photos in on a special website. Those sharing features work together with the storage ones, so that all images from a certain location can be shared with friends in a couple of clicks.

The company announced the new app at Google I/O, its developer conference.