The recent theme for Google's app updates has been that they're not really packed with big new features. This isn't unusual, just part of the typical ebb and flow as development teams prepare for bigger things. The previous update for Google Photos wasn't loaded with many new features and the new one appears to have none at all. However, a teardown of v1.26 shows that there's still some work going on under the hood for the previously revealed video stabilization feature and hints at a new way to share photos with people that will be even faster than what we already have.


Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced and released.

The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.

Video Stabilization, Part 2

If you caught the last Photos teardown and wanted to know for sure if video stabilization would run on your phone or wait for the processing to happen server-side, we now have an answer: it's going to happen on the phone.

New strings in the latest apk leave little doubt. This is an easy assertion to make because there will be an option to cancel a stabilization analysis. Or to put it simply, stop the video from being processed. How can I be so sure? If the processing were to happen on Google's end, there would be no reason for users to cancel it, so the option wouldn't exist.

<string name="cpe_a11y_cancel_stabilize_analysis">Cancel stabilization analysis</string>
<string name="cpe_editor_action_cancel_stabilize_analysis">Cancel</string>
<string name="cpe_stabilize_analysis_cancelled">Stabilization analysis cancelled.</string>
<string name="cpe_stabilize_analysis_failed">Stabilization analysis failed.</string>

In the last teardown, I suggested that processing for video stabilization would probably become fairly costly to battery life, so it makes sense to have the ability to cancel the process once it starts.

Two more strings suggest that Google Photos might also show its work, so to speak. They appear to be labels indicating whether a particular video has been stabilized or not. How exactly they show up isn't clear, but it would be really interesting if they were presented side-by-side, or with a tap to toggle between videos, so users could see how much of an effect the process has. This is a popular feature for apps that offer visual filters on still photos like Instagram and Google Photos, so it makes sense to have it on videos, too.

<string name="cpe_stabilize_disabled">Stabilization disabled.</string>
<string name="cpe_stabilize_enabled">Stabilization enabled.</string>

Faster Sharing

One of the first things many people do after taking a photo is share it with somebody else. Judging by a couple of new strings, the Photos app is planning to announce a new feature that will make sharing even faster.

The new text belongs on a promo screen, so it will be shown to users the first time they enter the app after it goes live. That implies it's important enough to be featured.

<string name="photos_photofragment_components_photobar_share_promo_title">New! Share faster with friends</string>
<string name="photos_photofragment_components_photobar_share_promo_body">Send in-app to any phone or email</string>

These two lines immediately tell us this sharing feature happens specifically inside the app, so there will be no context switch to the likes of Gmail or Messenger. It also tells us that it can send to any email or phone, which basically means it will use MMS.

Unfortunately, that's where the details stop. I've never considered Android's method of sharing photos to be particularly slow, so I'm curious how it can be made "faster" than it already is. I'm also a little skeptical about how many people will want to use these methods for moving their pictures around. Most of us turn to social networks and instant messaging, these days; email and MMS may be serviceable methods, but they feel a bit outdated.

As always, we'll keep an eye out for more details.


The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.


Google Photos
Google Photos
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free