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. Starting in September 2020, I reference the affected chapter of  my Learn Google Photos book

9/13/21 Chapter 5: Collages available for certain memory collections. Some of the “Spotlight on …” memories end with a collage that you can save. See Android Police article.

9/8/21 Chapter 10: Printing now includes new sizes for canvas prints, and other options. Also, when ordering prints, you have the option to have them shipped to your rather than picking up in the store. See article in Google’s Blog: All the ways to print your photos.

9/1/21 Chapter 5: On the mobile app, when you’re viewing the photo library you will see a “Best of month” highlights reel at the beginning of each month. Tap on it to view a slide show of selected photos/videos from that month. It works just like the memories section at the top. This feature is just now rolling out. If you have it, you can go back to previous years and see the monthly highlights. When you use the scroll button, you will feel a little bump when you get to a month. You may also get other highlight reels within a month if you have lots of photos that can be grouped, e.g. “Trip to the Keys.”

9/1/21 Chapter 8: If you open a photo from an album, edit it, then save a copy – the copy will now be included in the album. Before this change, the copy would be in the main library, not in the album, and would be difficult to find.

8/25/21 Chapter 5 & Chapter 9: Shared photos are now stripped of location data. If your photo includes a location, that location will no longer be visible to people with whom you share the photos. . If it’s in an album, there is a setting to change this – click the 3-dot menu and choose Options, turn on the Share Photo Location.

8/10/21 Chapter 5: More detail for photos showing in the memory carousel. See Android Police article.

7/15/21 Chapter 5: A photo memories widget for Android. A photo memories widget has been available for iOS for a while now. See article. If you are on Android, this feature has now come to your phone. I had a hard time finding it at first because it is not labeled as a Google Photos widget – it’s called “Memories.”

7/12/21 Chapter 3: Google Backup and Sync is out; Google Drive for Desktop is in. The switch will be phasing in until Backup and Sync no longer works as of Oct. 1. See The Verge article. The only changes in the software affect Google Drive. The procedure for uploading photos from computer to Google Photos remains basically the same. You must check the box to upload new photos to Google Photos from specified folders. It is a one-way process, no syncing involved.

6/23/21 Chapter 9: Have you ever received a photo attached to an email and wanted to save it directly to Google Photos? Well, any day now, you will be able to do that with Gmail. See article by Verge. Open the photo, click the 3-dot menu and choose Save to Photos.

6/22/21 Chapter 7: The new editing system that has been on Android for a while comes to iOS, but with a limited feature set. It’s missing Markup, More, and premium editing tools like Dynamic and Portrait.

6/15/21 Chapter 4: Change to 4 tabs at bottom of app. On iOS first, then coming to Android – the Sharing button that was at the top left is moved to the bottom row of tabs and in its place is a Print Shop button.

6/3/21 Chapter 1: A change in terminology. The upload size that was called “High Quality” is now known as “Storage Saver” See full details here.

5/25/21 Chapter 8: Locked Folder announced. Pixel 3+ devices only Coming first to Pixel phones then other Androids. This is a space protected by your device screen lock where you can save your photos and videos separately, so they won’t show up as you scroll through Google Photos or any other apps on your device. Be aware, photos in your locked folder will only be stored on device. Lose the device, lose the photos. You also will lose the photos if you clear data. Full help article hereWarning – “locked” files will exist on your device only, no cloud copy at all. If you clear cache and data – you will be deleting those on-device images.

5/19/21 Chapter 5: More control over what shows up in memories. Announced at Google I/O 5/18 – rolling out later this summer. See announcement on the Google Keyword Blog. The same announcement tells of a new “locked folder” which is a password protected place you can put photos that you don’t want to be accidentally viewed using Google Photos or any other app on your device.

5/2/21 Chapter 9: When sharing photos using iMessage, you now have direct access to Google Photos.

4/23/21: Chapter 7: Denoise and Sharpen on Android only – these are two new editing tools on the Adjustments tab. Denoise is meant to smooth a photo, giving it a slight blur. Sharpen give more definition. These new tools do not require a Google One membership. Article from AndroidPolice.

4/15/21: Chapter 4: I just noticed some new options when viewing video on the Web version. There is a settings button (gear icon) in the lower right that includes Playback Speed and Quality setting. 

4/15/21: Chapter 7 – New Video Editor, Android only. Now, in addition to trimming, stabilizing and export frame, we now have many of the same editing features as found in the Photo editor. Filters, Crop, Adjust, and Markup. So, if your video is dark, you can use a filter to brighten it up. Just realize that it will apply that filter to the entire video, so if another part of the video is bright, it will be washed out. I was really excited to see the Markup tool until I discovered that it is missing the Text option – it only has drawing tools.

3/15/21: Chapter 7 – Premium editing features only on Android right now. If you have a Pixel phone, you will see some new buttons when you’re editing a photo. If you have some other brand of Android phone, AND you are a Google One subscriber (you pay for storage) then you will also have those new buttons. On non-Pixel Androids, you will see them marked with the Google One logo. In the image below, the premium editing features are: Dynamic, Portrait, Color Pop, Blur, Color focus, Portrait light. The portrait-related options will only appear on photos with a face. Note: when you use a premium editing feature you can no longer save the photo, you must Save a Copy. See article by 9to5Google.

3/5/21: Chapter 4 – Web version menu added “Explore” and “Favorites.” People and places are now under Explore rather than Albums.

3/4/21: Chapter 3 – Apple now has a tool to transfer your iCloud photo library to Google. See this Apple support page for more details: Transfer a copy of your iCloud Photos collection to another service. Or this Android Police article: Apple lets you natively transfer your iCloud media to Google Photos

2/11/21: Chapter 7 – Android only: New video editor. See Google Blog post. I haven’t seen it yet, it will be “rolling out.” Also included is new Premium (for Google One subscribers only) photo editing features: Portrait lighting and sky suggestions. These I do have now.

2/9/21: Chapter 4 – Android only: you can now zoom in on videos by double-tapping. That will enlarge the video, then you can pinch, zoom, and drag.

1/25/21: Chapter 5 – Marking favorites can now be done for selected photos. Select multiple photos, click 3-dot menu, choose Favorite. Web and iOS – not Android yet. Also Favorites can now be synced between Apple Photos and Google Photos. This feature is rolling out account by account. I see it on one of my accounts, but not on another.

1/24/21: Chapter 4 – Layout of Google Photos menus now takes advantage of larger screen on Android tablets. See article on Android Police.

1/8/21: Chapter 10 (p. 136) – “Manage photo frames” is now available on iOS. No need to use Google Home app to specify what albums to display on Ambient mode.

12/15/20: Chapter 10 – Cinematic photos and more collages. Automatic creations appear in the Recent Highlights tile of Memories on mobile devices. A new creation is “Cinematic Photos” where Google identifies a person and animates them to look like they’re moving toward you while leaving the background. They also tell us to expect some fancier automatic collages. Here’s the official article.

11/20/20: Chapter 10 – The “For You” creations have been gradually disappearing. Rediscover this day which included a collage and album appear to have been deprecated. Rediscover this week, n years ago can only be seem in Memories (at the top of mobile app) For more information see https://support.google.com/photos/answer/9454489

Creations Pop, Stylized, Collages, Then & now, Animations only show up in Recent highlights and only if the date taken is within the last few weeks. Older photos will generate creations but they cannot be seen on the app, only at https://photos.google.com/unsaved or https://photos.google.com/search/_m10_Creations

For Panoramas, HDR, Misc albums, they can currently  be seen in the Library tab under Utilities
 

11/11/20: Chapter 1 – Announcement – Unlimited Free storage will be going away as of June 1, 2021. This is very disappointing, but it is understandable as Google’s servers receive 28 Billion new photos and videos every week. Since images are personal content, they are not used for Google’s advertising. I, for one, would rather see them start charging as opposed to stop storing our photos. The good news is that all photos and videos uploaded at High Quality before June 1, 2021 and currently stored for free will be exempt from the new rules. Current pricing for 100GB is $2/mo. See the official announcement here: Updating Google Photos’ storage policy to build for the future. Read my article here: Google Photos free unlimited storage is ending – here’s everything you need to know

11/1/20: Chapter 1 – Recover Storage is no longer available as an option when you are a Google One Subscriber. Recover Storage is the process that will change file sizes to High Quality when they were uploaded in Original Quality. The option is found on the Web version under Settings. But, it’s not there if you are a Google One Subscriber. The option that appears instead is “Manage Subscription.” However – if you switch from Original Quality to High Quality, you will be prompted to recover storage from any existing Original Quality content.

11/1/20: Chapter 5 – The “Explore Map” that appears on screen after choosing Search is no longer a full-with button. It is the first tile amongst all the other places. The tile is labeled “Your Map.” I have not seen any announcements on this so maybe they’re just testing?

10/22/20: Chapter 5 – Introducing an iOS 14 home screen widget for your Google Photos. Official announcement

10/20/20: Chapter 10 – Google is re-launching their monthly subscription print service. Get 10 high quality prints mailed to you every month for $6.99. Here’s the official announcement.

10/15/20: Chapter 10 – The “For You” section is now gone from the Web interface, along with a few other tweaks to make the web more like the mobile menus. The creations will now be found under Utilities in both Web and mobile. Plus – on mobile – they initially show up in the Memories section in Recent Highlights.

10/8/20: Chapter 10 – In the moviemaker, we now have the choice to render the movies vertically (Portrait) or horizontal (Landscape)

9/30/20: Chapter 7Google announces a new photo editor. Rolling out on Android starting today. Here’s my article, including 3 videos: A new editor for Google Photos Android

9/29/20: Chapter 9 – I noticed an error on page 131. Shared Library is now called “Partner Sharing” and it’s found by clicking the account button at top right and choosing Photos Settings, then Partner sharing.

9/21/20: Chapter 6 Data Transfer Project news from the Google official blog. Using Takeout to transfer your photo library to Flickr or OneDrive, you can now specify albums to transfer rather than the entire library. I have not yet been successful with the transfer to OneDrive process. I’ll try this now and let you know.

9/18/20: Chapter 2 with update to iOS 14, the iPhone now asks for you to give access to “Selected photos” or “All photos.” If you mistakenly choose “selected photos” you must then go to System settings, Google Photos in order to choose “All Photos.”

9/3/20: Chapter 7 iPhone only – video editing with light and color adjustments, filters, and more. Using the video scrubber, you can preview any edits applied throughout the video. see article by The Verge

8/26/20: Canon DSLR cameras can now directly upload original quality photos over WiFi to Google Photos. A Google One subscription is required. Official Announcement

8/19/20: Android only: Third party apps can now access Google Photos albums to insert or attach a photo. Android Police article  In Gmail or Keep when I choose to insert a photo, I can select Google Photos and scroll down to see my albums. I don’t see this feature in truly 3d party apps like WhatsApp or Facebook or my Samsung texting app.

8/3/20: You can now see what photos on your phone are not backed up. Select the Account button in the upper right. If there are images that are not backed up, you will see a message like “99 items left to backup.” Tap on that message and you will see a grid with all those photos and videos. You will see a circular arrow on any images that are currently in process of backing up. You can also select individual photos and Back up.

7/28/20: Video editing can export one frame of the video to become a photo.

7/25/20: Album sorting comes to the Web version.

7/10/20: New menu structure for web version. The left-hand menu no longer collapses.

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 https://myaccount.google.com/ 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
–Multcloud.com 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.