Google began rolling out a new version of the Photos app this afternoon. It's not a particularly feature rich update, it appears to include just a convenient shortcut for notification channels and a promotion for free shipping on photo books. However, a teardown does add a bit more meat to this release as it foretells of some basic integration with Google Maps and some helpful wizards for building quality photo books.
Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)
- New shortcut to notification channel settings
- Promotion: Free shipping on photo books through Nov 9 (or maybe later)
Shortcut to notification channel settings
Notification channels have their faults, but they can be really helpful if you want to tailor them to fit your life and habits. One notable issue with notification channels is that most people don't know they exist, or at least don't know how to find them easily. Apps can make this much easier by simply adding a shortcut that will open up the system settings, and that's what Photos did in the latest update.
To be clear, the notification channels were already there, Photos simply added another way to reach them. This isn't appreciably faster than using the app switcher shortcut (i.e. hit the app switcher button, long-press the app icon, hit the info button, and finally hit the option for app notifications), but it's going to be more intuitive for people that aren't exactly tech-savvy.
Free shipping on photo books
This isn't exactly a feature update for the app, but it's worth a quick mention if you're interested in photo books. Quite simply, Google just started a promotion on photo books that includes free shipping through November 9th. The screenshots above show the promotional image and exact terms of the offer.
However, a teardown of the app revealed pretty strong evidence that the promotional offer will probably run all the way to Cyber Monday, which lands on November 27th of this year. Evidently, Google will also show another card at some point with a reminder to order photo books as the last minute approaches to get them delivered before Christmas.
<string name="photos_photobook_promotion_allphotos_header_1">Free shipping</string>
<string name="photos_photobook_promotion_allphotos_subtext_1">through Cyber Monday</string>
<string name="photos_photobook_promotion_allphotos_header_2">Last chance</string>
<string name="photos_photobook_promotion_allphotos_subtext_2">for holiday delivery</string>
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.
Google Photos may be where we place most of the shots that come out of our camera, but there's another app that might be home to quite a few of our pictures: Google Maps. Judging by a new string from the teardown, labels in Google Maps will be searchable from Photos.
<string name="photos_dateheaders_locations_locationlabeledu_message">Your Google Maps labels are now searchable here.</string>
In my quick experiments with this, it doesn't seem to be working for me yet, but maybe I just don't have the right combination of photos and labels.
Photo book wizards
I know the name "photo book wizards" sounds cool (or dorky, depending on your outlook), but it's going to be pretty tame in this situation. Google Photos will soon include a few helpful guides for creating certain themed photo books. The themes will include: Family, Friends, Kids, and "a special someone," which is for couples.
<string name="photos_photobook_wizard_a_special_someone_concept_label">A special someone</string>
<string name="photos_photobook_wizard_a_special_someone_concept_picker_title">Select the couple</string>
<string name="photos_photobook_wizard_family_concept_picker_title">Select the family</string>
<string name="photos_photobook_wizard_friends_concept_picker_title">Select the friend(s)</string>
<string name="photos_photobook_wizard_kids_concept_picker_title">Select the kid(s)</string>
There's not much to go on with the text that is here, but it's worded in such a way that leaves me thinking this feature will try to automate most of the process by asking users to simply choose people identified by the app, then pick from their pictures to find the best shots. That would at least make it a little more convenient than picking each photo manually or using an album as a starting point and then cleaning out and adding more photos by hand.
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.