It's Update Wednesday and Google has been rolling out the updates pretty steadily all morning. Most of them aren't packing much beyond bug fixes, but Photos did get an update to v1.13 with at least one cool little feature. The search results screen now provides a quick way to see photos taken on the same day alongside the regular results, even if they aren't related otherwise. We've got a couple variants of the latest apk linked at the bottom, and more are sure to come shortly.
The Google Photos app had some cool sharing features when it was released back in May, but now it's getting even better at sharing. Google has announced the addition of shared albums to Photos (announced a few months ago), and it's available today on Android, iOS, and web.
Adobe has a complicated relationship with Android. Most of its apps come to our beloved platform long after they've launched on iOS, and the updates tend to be slower to arrive thereafter. Keeping that in mind, Lightroom got a big update on iOS back in October that removed the requirement for a paid Creative Cloud subscription. Now Android is getting the same. As of today, Lightroom is free on Android.
The Photos app saw a small bump to v1.10 yesterday (and a tiny bug fix today), but it seems most people will be hard pressed to find much in the way of changes. However, there seems to be one interesting feature popping up for a very small number of users. If the right circumstances are met, users will have an option to create a tiny floating shortcut to the Photos app over the screen of their camera apps. Yeah, it sounds pretty weird, but it would be useful for apps that don't offer a shortcut of their own.
Google gives you a choice when you back up your images to Google Photos: do you save them at their original size or do you let Google store a compressed "high quality" version? The former counts against your storage space, while the latter doesn't. Unfortunately when you choose one, you're kind of stuck with the decision. You can opt to change how you save future photos, but you can't go back to compress those shots you previously saved at their original quality.
This is about to change. Tomorrow, Google will introduce the option to downgrade those previously uploaded images.
Google announced yesterday on their Lat Long Blog that the Local Guides program would be receiving one of the largest updates since its inception. Local Guides is a global community of people who love to contribute to Google Maps. These contributions come in the form of writing reviews, uploading photos, adding new places, answering questions, and fixing data about businesses. Millions of people around the world rely on information in Google Maps every day to navigate to their destination or choose where they want to eat dinner, so having more information at their disposal can only be a good thing. Becoming a Local Guide is as easy as visiting this sign-up page.
The Galaxy View is Samsung's biggest tablet, and the company is positioning it as a sort of all-purpose, general-use device for an entire household rather than a conventional mobile device. To that end they've released another exclusive app for the 18.4-inch tablet, Family Square. According to the description in the Play Store, it's meant to be a digital bulletin board, allowing multiple users to post photos to the app which are then displayed on the screen.
The setup is... unique. Instead of simply pulling photos from Facebook or Google+ accounts, Family Square needs to connect to individual phones, presumably over the local Wi-Fi network.
Google held a press event last month and talked about a few of the interesting new features planned for the Photos app. We're still waiting for collaborative albums to be turned on, but we've already seen other features come to life, like Chromecast support and setting labels for matched faces. This version doesn't appear to unlock collaborative albums – that may be waiting for a server-side switch – but it does add another feature to the facial matching feature: the ability to hide somebody.
Google Photos' decoupling from Google+ dates back to May, which means five months have now passed since. In this time, Google Photos has received several updates and gained essential features like Chromecast support and albums for adding and reordering images. Now the Photos team is ready to reflect on these five months and share with us a few stats about the app and service's use.
Photos now counts 100 Million active monthly users, but how that number is tallied I couldn't tell you. Does a single search or view count, or did they require uploads for users to be marked as active? I'm not sure. 15 Million animations and collages have been created, either manually or through Assistant.
Remember when the camera on Nexus phones was sort of terrible? Yeah, it looks like that's about to change.
Google is betting big on photography this year. The Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P include significant enhancements to both the front and rear camera modules. On the back of both phones is a 12.3 megapixel Sony sensor with impressively large 1.55 micron pixels, an f/2.0 lens, laser autofocus, and dual LED flash. The front-facing camera module now sports an 8 megapixel sensor with HDR+, "so you can get the world's best selfies" on your Nexus phone.
To match the new hardware, Google has also announced updates to the camera app as well.