Google Photos

Google Photos: Very Much the Gallery You Want and Need

May 28, 2015 - Written By Phil Bourget

After many leaks and sneak peaks at various aspects of Google’s new Photos app and services, especially this morning at Google’s I/O developer conference.  The app has officially shown itself in Google’s Play Store, simply titled Photos.  And, once you have the latest version of Google+, also rolling out through the Play Store, the link will be completely broken between Google+ and Photos, allowing both services to grow and develop features on their own.  But Photos builds on the already great Photos app of pre-M times, and that’s a great place to start.

From the pre-Android M times of Google+ and Google Photos, Google+ was the obviously favorite child, with Photos only getting a marginal update every couple of months.  Now, the Photos app looks to actively compete as a gallery app among Android users, as well as a competent competitor to other operating systems and their ecosystem’s gallery applications. The new Photos app features a whole host of Material reDesigning, from the new search tool as a floating action button, a new menu animation from the three-dot spot in the top right, to the selection effect when you are selecting multiple images, but the functionality takes center stage because this app features one of the most unique interfaces to date.  When you pinch in or out on the vertical stream of photos, you go from the default Compact view, out to get Month view, in to get Day view, and if you select the three-dot menu, you can cycle through them all, including a fourth, called Comfortable, which shows the photos in a single-column view, with each one reach from the left edge to the right on your Android device in portrait and taking up most of the screen when in landscape.

If you swipe to the left, you’re taken to the Collections page, now visually overhauled, letting you see and browse through your various groups of photos from and on Google+, as well as albums you create(d) in the app.  And if you swipe to the right from the main screen, you are taken to the newly-available Assistant, which helps you create great photographic and cinematic experiences easily from any Android device running the new Photos app. And, since Photos’ recent linkage with Drive, the navigation drawer, still just a quick pull from the left edge, contains sections for managing sharing and links, on-device folders, your trash, and obviously settings and the help section.  In the Settings menu you’ll find a toggle, thankfully, for the prompt to have Assistant suggest things, as well as allowing Drive photos to be shown and the grouping of similar faces to occur.  And finally, there is an option to remove the geo-tagged location of a photo or set of photos when you share them via a link, in case you don’t want any casual observers knowing where you are or were.  You can even turn on notifications, or turn them off, about various things that Assistant or Photos might do or have happen while you’re away from the app.

Google’s Photos app turned out to be worth the possibly agonizing wait for a gallery app since the previous standalone gallery app was killed off upon Lollipop 5.0’s arrival last year.  This app might draw a lot of attention today, on Google’s big Android day, but this one might keep people coming back to it once the day and I/O have ended this weekend and beyond.