Google Photos gets a map view as part of a big new redesign

After five years as the dominant solution for photo storage on all platforms, Google Photos is getting a new and major redesign. The revamped look, which includes new ways to navigate the app and a simplified pinwheel icon, is designed to better highlight your favorite old photos, Google said. It also responds to the core feature request Google says it received – a map view that lets you browse the photos and videos you’ve taken by location.

“A lot of people really love the product, and the reason they love it is a little bit different from what we initially designed it for,” said David Lieb, product manager for Google Photos. “What they really love is this nostalgic idea, remembering and looking back on their photos. So in this redesign, we really decided to lean on that. We believe in the long term that this is the unique and enduring value of Google Photos. “

The new Google Photos opens in a tab called Photos that contains both old favorites and recent shots. At the top of the tab, you’ll see Memories, a private archive of your old photos that you browse as Instagram Stories. (Introduced last year, the feature now has more than 120 million monthly users, the company said.) In addition to the photos from years ago, you will also see a new Memoirs section called “Recent Highlights”. That’s Google’s effort to showcase the best of its recent shots, along with automated creations like collages and animations the app creates on its behalf. (Those creations previously appeared in a tab called For You, which has disappeared.)

Memories' new story viewer on Google Photos

The new Memories story viewer on Google Photos.
Image: Google

Beneath Memories, you’ll see your recent photos in reverse chronological order, with some subtle changes to their design and location. Google Photos now makes automatic guesses about which images you’re likely to find most interesting, expanding them in the feed as you scroll. Expect to see more prominently depicted photo, baby, and landmark images, with receipts, parking spots, and whiteboard images shown slightly smaller. Google also reduced the space between the photos in the grid.

The search tab shows Google’s machine learning capabilities, which have become powerful so that people who use Photos only occasionally may not have fully realized it. The top of the tab shows the people and pets that appear most frequently in your photos and videos, which for me is still one of the best ways to navigate the app.

Beneath that, you’ll find the new Places view, which allows you to navigate through the photos and videos you’ve taken on a map. Tap “see all” in the places, and you’ll see a grid of locations where you’ve taken a lot of pictures, and when you tap one, you’ll see a smart two-pane view. At the top is the map, which Google represents with access points that show where it has taken the most photos and images. Below is a grid of photos on the map. Touch an access point on the map, and the grid below will change to show only the photos on the access point. It is a fast and fun way to explore a location and remember things you did in a certain area.

The new map view in Google Photos

The new map view in Google Photos.
Image: Google

“When you’re looking at your photos on a map, you want to see your photos and the map at the same time,” Lieb said. “And surprisingly, no one is doing it this way.”

Search also offers a smart “Stuff” view that tries to capture photos related to your interests. After spending the past few months making pandemic cookies, I was delighted to see that Google had created a new “baking” tab so I could look back on my recent creations. Search also allows you to search your archive for specific categories, including Google screenshots, selfies, videos, and automated creations.

The final tab is called Library, and it’s a bag of surprises – a print shop to turn your photos into prints and books, a link to utilities like a photo scanner and animation tool, access to your deleted photos, and a list. from your albums

It wouldn’t be a Google app if it didn’t have a somewhat awkward messaging feature. Tap the speech bubble at the top of the app and you’ll see a list of photos you’ve shared, along with any conversations you’ve had with your friends. I have found that photo messaging is more useful in theory than in practice. It is hampered by the fact that Google does not associate images with real identities, making it difficult for you to understand who my friends and family are. (Usually it is also easier to send a quick photo or two by SMS or other social app.)

I found myself taking fewer photos than usual after months of shelter-in-place, but Lieb said that use of Photos continues to grow during the pandemic. “Even when you’re stuck at home, you want to record what was going on in your life,” Lieb said. “Then we see that people do it even more today.”

The redesign of Google Photos is now being implemented on Android and iOS.