It's time for another installment of Getting To Know Android, the series where we show you every polished pixel in Google's latest Android update. Today's target is the Gallery, which, in a rare APK Teardown whiff, is not white. I have no idea what was going on with our crazy 4.2 alpha version, but the Gallery is still black, and the icon is still the same. Sorry about that. There is lots of new stuff to talk about, though.


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First up is the "App Info" screen. As always, the old version is on the left, and the new version is on the right. In what has got to be the smallest version number bump in GTKA history, the 4.2 Gallery has received a 0.0.0001 upgrade. Referring to these guys as the " Gallery" and the " Gallery" would drive me just a little crazy, so I'm just going to call them "4.1 Gallery" and "4.2 Gallery."

Google's really selling itself short with that version number. The Gallery got a redesign and a bunch of new features, and the Camera (which is part of the Gallery APK) received a completely new interface and a completely new way to take a picture, and Google felt all this was only worth a 0.0.0001 version number boost. Come on, guys! This is easily worth a full 1.0 version increment - brag a little.


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Ok, on to the serious stuff. Here are the Album interfaces, and it's immediately obvious that the new design looks a lot nicer than the old one. Album labels now have a solid gray background, and everything has been shrunk down to a more compact, 1 line layout. The 4.1 Gallery had the album title above the icon and picture count; while the new version switched to an "Icon/title/picture count" layout, which is similar to a file manager display.

Thumbnails are significantly larger, and there is more white space (gray space?) between the thumbnails. The camera album gets a big, semi-transparent camera icon imposed over its thumbnail.

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It may be hard to tell on the initial screen, but scroll over a bit and you'll see the background has changed from black to gray. The Nexus 4's lack of an AMOLED screen means black doesn't look as great as it used to, so I won't miss it. I'll skip the other album views (location, times,  people, and tags) because they all look like this.

Individual Albums


There aren't many differences once you jump into an album. Thumbnails retain their new, roomier spacing, but they shrunk down to the same size as 4.1. The slideshow button has been demoted to the overflow button for a cleaner look.

The major new change here is that the album title ("Camera" in these shots) is now a drop down button that changes the view. The normal Gallery view is called "Grid view," which is now listed below the album title. The other view is called "Filmstrip."

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Filmstrip isn't new. It was in 4.1, you just had to pinch-zoom out to get to it. Adding it to a menu now makes it a lot easier to find. This time Google has decided to keep the top action bar, which makes sense, because no picture ever covered that space. They also stopped the system UI from fading out. The old darkroom effect was cute, but not really functional.


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The individual picture UI has seen a few changes. The delete button is now in the overflow menu, which I'm not really happy about (though filmstrip view is nice for deleting). The most horrible change on this screen is that this is yet another instance where Google has arbitrarily decided to hide the status bar. It is never ok to hide the status bar. The only exception is, maybe, for games. Notifications are important.

You can actually have or not have a status bar on this screen depending on how you open it. Viewing a picture from the Gallery will have a bar, but viewing a picture by swiping over from the camera won't - more fodder for a 2nd edition of Stock Android Isn't Perfect.

The "Edit" button is no longer hidden away in the overflow button. It's been moved, oddly, to the lower left, where it just floats as its own little 1-button toolbar. What happened to "stick everything in the action bar"? It would have been fine in the top action bar. If you think it's really important, keep it outside the overflow menu, like you did with delete in 4.1.



Edit has gotten a huge overhaul. Here they decided to bring the status bar back. Yeah, that's right, in the individual picture screen, 4.2 removed the status bar, and in the edit screen, they added it. I'm starting to think they just flip a coin for every screen.

In another break with Android convention, the Up button (the top-left button that points left) isn't present in the edit interface anymore. It's been replaced with a "Save" button - strange.  Undo and Redo have been moved to the overflow menu, and their former spot has been taken by the usual duo of Share buttons.

The tools at the bottom are all completely different; I'll cover what they actually do later. The new presentation for them is just awesome, though. Rather than the stock flower preview image, they are all live previews of your picture. This is a wonderful user experience decision; I can instantly see what all of them will do to my image. The thumbnails are so good, you don't even really need names.


There are two little tricks to this interface that I've found that you probably won't catch at first glance (both of these pictures are 4.2). The first is a movable before and after comparison that happens when you pick an effect and hold your finger on the picture. The black divider line will follow your finger, so while it's 50/50 in my screen shot, you can move the separator up and down; it will even turn vertical if you move your finger to the right when you first touch it.

The other neat addition is a history panel. I stumbled upon this with a horizontal swipe, which is really hard to pull off, but thankfully there's an item for it in the overflow menu.


What a mess. Here's all the options from 4.1 (left) and 4.2 (right). Everything is different. Almost every effect from 4.1 was scrapped. Some of the effects in the "crop" tab got cut too: Red eye, face glow, and face tan are all gone.


The first tab is what I imagine Instagram is like. A few fire-and-forget buttons that mess up your picture and allow you to express yourself via a canned photo filter preset. Artsy.

The second tab will let you add a border to your picture (another thing that Instagram probably does) and the third tab holds the usual physical photo adjustments.


The forth tab stands in stark contrast to the first tab, which leans much more toward "Photoshop." These have all sorts of big-boy picture adjustments like exposure, contrast, shadows, hue, saturation, and vibrance. These aren't just one-shot deals, either. They have sliders! Check it out:

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It's not just the sliders that make these better than the tab 1 "Instagram" effects, these are also combinable. So you can up the exposure and adjust the contrast just like a real photo editor. I find it interesting that there's a black and white effect in tab 1 and tab 4: a simple one and an advanced one.


OH MY GOD. It even has curves. Behold my terrifying Demon Yoshi! You can even adjust curves by color - neat.


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Picking "Crop" from the overflow menu used to launch a custom interface, but now it kicks you directly into the full editor. There's also a new "original" button that will let you pick an aspect ratio for your crop.


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The actual settings are identical, but the design has been tweaked a bit. The "Gallery" heading text was removed (why?) and the blue line has been cut, too. They've also killed that awful background gradient - now if only we could get it banished from the system settings.

That's about it for the Gallery, and I'm thinking we're close to the end of GTKAs for this round, too. There isn't much left to cover. I've already done the clock app to death, and the camera is so different there wouldn't be much comparison. Maybe I can squeeze one more article out of miscellaneous 4.2 stuff. Cross your fingers.

Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

    Great job Ron!

    Another edition of Stock Android Isn't Perfect would be great too. Remove stuff they fixed and add stuff in they added. :)

    Oh, also: is fixing the status bar thing *easy*; is it like flicking a switch in the code*? I was thinking CM/custom ROMs could fix it if it's easy to fix.

    *As you can tell, I'm not a coder.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Samsung actually does some fancy status bar stuff. I think you can tap the top of the screen and get a status bar in many apps that don't have them. So yes.

      I actually think it's a bug. The camera hides the status bar, but doesn't bring it back when you swipe over to the gallery.

      • https://twitter.com/YannDinendal Yann Dìnendal

        It might be intentional: if I quickly grab the camera app (even more if it's somebody else, from the lock screen) I want to be focused on the pictures I'm taking, not a notification about new mails. And that includes the last pictures when swiping, so I think it's smart that it behaves differently from when I'm just browsing my pictures from the gallery app. :-)

  • Paul_Werner

    I think that most people would agree that these GTKA articles are one of the best things from AP

    • Abhisshack D

      indeed and Ron Amadeo & Artem is my most fav Android Blogger . you guys rocks

  • http://twitter.com/Phaze08 Cody Revels

    I really like them as well. This guy just has such an attention to detail, I like his perspective and I learn things I missed usually from his acticles.

  • Dominic Powell

    Ron, regarding open the history settings with the swipe. the determinant is how fast you swipe across. if you swipe quickly... you will ALWAYS bring up the history tab, if you swipe slow it will show you the contrasting effects on the picture. Try it... Upon discovering this initially i tried to figure out how exactly it worked. I never not open it when i want now.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Oh, hmm, cool.

      That is totally different than every other kind of swipe. =/

      • Dominic Powell

        I know it seems weird but if you do it quickly it always works.

  • Tony

    how about drawing over pictures? was so convenient to cirlce things, etc from editor in 4.1

    is this really just totally removed?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Oh, Doodle? Yeah, Doodle's gone.

      • Sootie

        damn I used to play with doodle all the time.... Wait what?

  • RedPandaAlex

    "In another break with Android convention, the Up button (the top-left button that points left) isn't present in the edit interface anymore. It's been replaced with a "Save" button - strange."

    This isn't a break from Android convention. The developer relations guys talk about it all the time. On an "Edit" screen, you can remove the ambiguity of what happens when you touch "up" by changing it to something like this. It's the same when you edit a contact in the people app, though there it's "done" and not "save." I don't know why it's "save" in Gallery and "done" in People though.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      "The developer relations guys talk about it all the time"
      Really? That sounds interesting, where's this?

      • RedPandaAlex

        I watch the Android Design in Acton show on the Android Developers YouTube channel. And I'm not even a developer, just interested in user interface design

  • Sean Lumly

    .... and I still can't set a high-resolution image as my wallpaper from the Gallery app. In fact, it seems impossible to even *view* a full-resolution image in the gallery app -- it only uses a low-resolution version of the original image, wasting the otherwise wonderful pixel-density of my Nexus 7 on a critical out-of-the-box feature: viewing images.

    • Imparus

      Really? I have had no problem with that on neither 4.2 or 4.1

  • http://www.facebook.com/leo.davidson Leo Davidson

    I haven't tried it in 4.2 yet but in 4.1 I found the stock Gallery still failed to notice when files had been deleted by other apps (e.g. a file manager), showing thumbnails for them still and being thoroughly confused. That problem sends me back to QuickPic every time.

    • http://profiles.google.com/hackbod Dianne Hackborn

      The other app is broken and not telling the system's media database to update.

  • Rodrigost23

    I think "that awful background gradient" is much more beautiful and "cleaner" than a full-black background.

    • jm9843

      I agree with Ron that the gradient looks bad. Like, "is there something wrong with my display" bad.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      The picture is misleading. On a phone (particularly AMOLED screens) there is a lot of banding in the gradient.

    • Larizard

      I think the gradient ties well with the blue icons in the notification bar up top. But making it all black is quite nice, too.

  • Sérgio Santos

    also, instead of going to a separate 'edits' (or something) album, edits go into the same album and placed in-line (right after/before) with the original. And *that* gives the edit the right to Instant Upload!

  • Klaine

    How do you create albums. Nexus support said it wasn't possible (but every question they've answered so far has been wrong... I was able to do it by USB and creating them on my laptop. But is there an easier way..do it directly on the phone. I have GalaxyNexus 4.2.1. Please help!!! I have so much trouble learning all this phone can do when the experts on the nexus support line don't seem to know anything

  • http://www.facebook.com/amishcrusader Shane Capuano

    I am surprised the Bestec power supply picture didn't have singe marks everywhere. Do you have a crappy HP or Emachines computer? I am so so sorry Ron :/

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Computer repair. My day job. And yes, good call, it's broken.

  • ProductFRED

    You'd better hide that Windows Vista key ;)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Because those are SO in demand.

  • Imparus

    You are missing a change that I find the almost the best part of the new gallery, and that is removing of those ugly grey bars that was just wasting space and ruining the flow.

    I'm still disappointed they didn't copy their google+ look in the browser, so the whole image could be show :-/

    • Matthew Fry

      Believe in the me that believes in you... :-D

      • Imparus

        Who the hell do you think we are? (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

  • http://profiles.google.com/hephastus Kurleigh Martin

    In the individual picture UI the bar is hidden by default but if you tap the screen once it floats in from the top

  • http://geniousatplay.blogspot.com/ Bikram Agarwal

    Unless stock Gallery allows me to select picture folders to display and remove junk folders, i'm not using it. Right now my Gallery looks like a place every image goes to die; pictures from all over the device, uccw clocks and resource Pngs and what not.

    I've used the .nomedia trick a few times, but everytime i flash a new ROM, everything comes back. I shouldn't have to use a .nomedia in the first place. So, Stock Gallery is dead to me. QuickPic it is.

  • Angelo Allegra

    Pretty much uninteresting.
    As others have already said... totally defeated by the might QuickPic (which Google went blatantly to copy with this).

  • Scott

    I'm wondering what happened to pinch to zoom in gmail, wasn't that supposed to be in the 4.2 update or was that just the app itself?

  • http://twitter.com/harshitpassi Harshit Passi

    Love the GTKA articles! I am highly miffed that they took away the sketching on top of photos option from the stock editing app. Had to download Skitch for it as its a feature I used regularly to illustrate things on screenshots and the like.

  • Baruch Richter

    I don't agree with you that showing the images without the notification bar is wrong. I want to see my images in full screen mode, and having the OS shrinking the images by default (to accommodate the notification bar) in JB 4.1.2 was a real pain in the ass. Many people have complained about this, and that's why they changed it on 4.2
    In that sense QuickPic app is just perfect for me

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      The Nexus 4 takes 3:4 images, and the screen is 5:3. There is no way for it to display a full screen image. Your options are "empty black space" at the top and bottom or the status bar. You might as well include it. The Gallery even does a neat UI hiding trick when you wait a few seconds or tap on the picture. There's no reason to not have the status bar, that could hide with everything else.

      The status bar is a form of navigation. It should really never be hidden, just like the on screen buttons are never hidden. If I'm looking at a picture and get a text message, I want to look at the text message and open the text messaging app. If you hide the status bar, the phone will just mysteriously beep, and you will have no idea why. You'll have to leave the current app, and go to the home screen or something, just so you can see the notification. THEN you can pull down the shade and open the texting app. That's horrible.

      • Justin Swanson

        The workaround to the problem you described that I found is, hit the "recents" button and it will bring up the status/notification bar.

        Also, one nice feature of touchwiz (that will probably get picked on by apple in the next case) is you can always pull down the notification bar, One quick swipe, shows it and another pulls it down like normal.

  • http://twitter.com/psych2L Joseph Lee

    Quickpic for life!

  • GNEX User

    "Maybe I can squeeze one more article out of miscellaneous 4.2 stuff"
    Can you do an article comparing the Charging time, battery drain and (rear) speaker volume on GNex with 4.1.1, 4.2 and 4.2.1?
    Personally I think,
    - the volume has gone up marginally in 4.2.1. 4.1.1 was really poor.
    - Charging time has gone up in 4.2 considerably and so far 4.2.1 isnt any better. USB charging is pathetic!
    - I have seen your post regarding the battery performance being better but, in my experience its been really poor. May be slightly improved with 4.2.1 but, not to 4.1.1 levels.
    It would be interesting to see a side by side comparison of Gnex's major pain points from an expert's angle.

  • Mari

    Can you please tell me if it is possible to add a caption, or text on or to a photo in gallery?? If so How.