Google Photos – Update History

This is an ongoing list including both official announcements of new features as well as things I happen to notice with the dates I noticed them. I started this list when my Google Photos book was published in mid 2018. [Return to the Geeks on Tour Google Photos resource page.]

6/25/20: New icon, redesigned menu system, photo map. Removed 3-line menu – options now under account button and a new Library tab. Removed search bar at top – added a search tab. Removed For You tab – put creations in an enlarged memory bar with recent highlights. Official announcement. Chris’ article.

6/2/20: The account button in upper right now includes a link to “Manage your Google Account” which takes you to the same place as where you can see privacy settings, personal info, manage your data and more.

5/20/20: New private sharing of albums. When you share an album to a contact using their Google Account address, only they can see it. There is no public link created as there used to be. You can still share with a public link, but that is a completely different option. Also, you can now remove people from your shared album without the need to block them.  Announcement  Help Center Article

3/4/20: According to 9to5Google the photos app will be changing its menu interface. No more 3-line menu at the top left – those options will now be under “Library” on the bottom tabs. As of 6/14 I have not seen this change.

3/3/20: Source info now included in info for each photo – e.g. if a photo was shared to you from Sue Jones, the words “shared by Sue Jones” will now be on the info panel. Web version only. Article by Android Central

Prompt appears on photos with text asking if you want to copy the text. If tapped, it brings up Lens in text mode so you can do that.
From Android Police article

2/1/20: Account info and Backup status have moved to the Account bubble (Account Particle?) in the upper right of both Android and iOS apps. So, to see the “Backup Complete” message, you can no longer just scroll to the top of the screen. You need to tap on the account button.

12/18/19: Pixel phones now have an option for “Blur” on photos that are not taken with Portrait mode. This means you can create a portrait style photo after the fact. Official Announcement.

12/4/19: Additional print sizes: 5X7 and 8X10 in addition to the 4X6.

12/3/19: Direct Sharing a photo(s) directly to a contact starts a conversation rather than creating a shared album. Announced here. I haven’t seen it yet. Rolling out on iOS, Android and Web! Help Center article

12/2/19: Google Photos and other cloud photo services:
–Facebook will now transfer photos and videos to Google Photos – directly and securely without needing to download and re-upload. rolling out 2020
– is a cloud<->cloud transfer service. Users have confirmed that it now works with Google Photos. So, you can transfer between Google Photos and OneDrive, Dropbox, Flickr, Google Drive.

12/1/19: Manual face tagging. Swipe up on photo and you should see a face section. The pencil will then let you edit. It will rescan photo and show you any missing photos.  Rolling out now on iOS and Android. see blog post.

11/26/19: Android only: Markup. After tapping on edit, you’ll now see a new tool. It looks like a squiggle and it allows you to draw on your photo, highlight something in your photo, or type text on the photo. See blog post.

11/23/19: Album sort: only Android so far. At top of album list, you’ll see a new button ↑↓ Most recent photo – tap that to see other choices: Last modified, Album title.

11/20/19: Ability to edit movies is now available on the web version of Google Photos. Open an existing movie, click the Edit button. Note: edit on Web does not include ability to add your own music, only theme music.

11/1/19: Menu item “Assistant” is gone, replaced by “For You.” For You refers to the creations that Google sends to you. Creations like stylized photos, collages, movies,  Remember this Day, and then and now pictures. For you also includes the menu for you to make your own creations:

Other items that used to be under Assistant, like suggestions for fixing sideways photos and archiving receipts are now in the “Manage your Library” menu item.

11/1/19: Edit in Snapseed moved: iOS = swipe up on photo, edit in Snapseed OR open photo and Share to snapseed. Android: Edit photo, tap 9-dot grid for Snapseed, crop document, any other photo editing apps on phone

11/1/19: 3-dot menu – no longer drops down a list style menu, instead it does the same as swipe up on photo and menu options are horizontal below photo. Make sure to swipe to see if the menu continues beyond the screen!

10/17/19: Android only: Crop document, automatically crop and adjust perspective on photos of documents – e.g. business cards, receipts, or full pages. Option found on edit screen under 9-dot grid.

10/15/19: Pixel 4 announced at “Made by Google Event” No more free original quality backup for Pixel. See support page here.
Pixel 1 = free Original uploads forever
Pixel 2 & 2XL = original uploads free until January 16, 2021.
Pixel 3 and 3XL original uploads free until Jan 31, 2022

10/5/19: Search – auto-suggestions no longer limited to 10. This means that you can search for a word and – before enter – you will see all possible albums with that word. 11/20 note: this is very inconsistent, sometimes I get more than ten, sometimes not. It seems to be the most solid on Android.

10/5/19: Motion/Live photos – pick the best frame. Android only, (but it works on live photos taken with iPhone) you can open a live/motion photo, tap the 3-dot menu (or swipe up on photo) and scroll down till you see a strip of image frames along the bottom where you can slide your finger to the best one and then tap Save a Copy in the upper right.

10/5/19: Android only – New feature on Google Photos menu is “Photo Frames” It allows you to select which albums to display on Chromecast or Google Home hub screens. What you used to need the Home app – ambient mode for, you can now do straight from Google. If you don’t know what we mean by displaying photos on Chromecast, see Episode 108 of our Button Show.

9/13/19: Relive past memories with new story-like feature in Google Photos. These are temporary stories compiled from your older photos. You can specify people or dates not to show. Rolling out to iOS and then Android.

9/12/19: Get prints made of any photos using Walmart or CVS. Announcement here. Available immediately in Assistant, Print Store

9/12/19: Google One members get original quality photo backup and the ability to restore to your phone.

9/1/19: No longer able to pinch screen to shrink view to year at a glance. Full month is as small as it goes.

9/1/19: Location info now shows just above each day’s photos.New location info showing in library

8/25/19: Search by text in photo. Not official yet. 11/20 note: it is working consistently for me now on all three platforms: Web, Android, and iOS

7/30/19: iOS version – swipe up for options which used to be on 3-dot menu. For example, Add to Album, Archive, Save to device, Open in Snapseed, Save as PDF(?) 11/1 note: now on Android also (except save as PDF)

7/24/19: Gallery Go: a light photo app for use by people whose phones do not have reliable internet connection. Works on device only – no cloud access. Should not be considered by current Google Photos users.

7/10/19: Dark mode on Android. Turn on night mode in Display settings. Requires Android version 9 or higher

6/20/19: Added ability to search for “Recently Added” to see photos sorted by date uploaded rather than date taken.

6/12/19: Google Drive<->Google Photos automatic sync will stop working. See official post: Changing how Google Drive and Google Photos work together. And, my article:  Questions about Google Drive breaking up with Google Photos And, Michael Daniels YouTube show when I was a guest and discussed this news.

3/20/19: Android – Express backup now on menu. Will be able to backup over slow internet connection at reduced quality. (I still don’t see it?) Only shows up where applicable.

3/15/19: iOS-Google Photos library is now integrated with Siri Shortcuts. Go to your device settings to set Siri Shortcuts to work with Google Photos, so you can simply ask Siri to “view latest photo.”

3/8/19: Shared Libraries is now shown in the Sharing section on all platforms (iOS, Android, Web) rather than on the menu. (see p. 105 in book)

12/19/18: Photo albums can now hold up to 20,000 photos. See Android Police article

12/11/18: Unsupported videos: web version – settings, Unsupported videos listed and may take up space.

12/6/18: Express Backup – In addition to Original, and High Quality, there is now a size choice for Express Backup

11/20/18: Depth Editor and Color pop now available for iOS. See How to use Depth Editor and Color Pop in Google Photos

10/10/18: Read announcement here.

  • Live Albums – A special kind of album where you specify certain people and any pictures of those people or pets will be added to the album automatically.
  • Top Shot on Pixel 3: Take a motion picture with a Pixel 3 phone, and Google Photos will pick the best frame to be your still.
  • Depth Editor: you can adjust the amount of blur/focus on portrait photos. Only available on Pixel 2, Pixel 3, and a few other Android phones that take portrait/depth photos.
  • Color Pop: only available on portrait/depth type of photos. It leaves the main subject in color and the blurry background turns to black and white.

9/15/18: You can now add up to 10,000 photos or videos to a private album.

  • In a shared album, each person can add up to 10,000 photos or videos until the album reaches 20,000 total.
  • In large albums, some features may not be available
  • Mrs. Geek’s note: it’s still best to keep your albums under 500 photos. They get too confusing, unwieldy, and some features may not work in the bigger albums. The purpose of albums is to segment your photos/highlight your best. 10,000 photos is not a segment!

9/1/18: Photo Books can now have captions with the photos. See this demo in episode 151.

8/5/18: Problem with Snapseed not opening from iOS Google Photos menu. Reported in this thread.

6/1/18: Suggested actions on photos. You will sometimes see messages like ‘Fix brightness” or “Rotate photo.” One tap on message will perform the noted action. Official article here.