Version 3.14 of Google Photos just started rolling out a little earlier today. This one doesn't appear to have any new features or major changes, but it might possibly be leaving behind some older versions of Android. This update could also be preparing to launch the Favorites feature spotted in a previous teardown. Looking further into the APK's resources, there are also signs of more options related to Shared Libraries. And finally, Austin's Mysteryer feature takes yet another turn.
Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)
- Minimum supported Android version goes to 4.4 KitKat
Dropping Jelly Bean support
It looks like Google Photos may be leaving behind some old versions of Android. The latest update has upped the minimum required API level to 19, which is Android 4.4 KitKat. Photos previously supported back to API level 16, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Before getting alarmed, it's possible the Photos team is splitting releases into multiple variants for different versions of Android, much like Google Play services and Google Maps, but I tend to doubt it.
It probably shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to see Jelly Bean falling out of favor, as of the latest numbers, all three versions (4.1 - 4.3) only account for a combined 5% of the Android user base.
Keep in mind that this doesn't mean old versions will stop working, at least not yet. If you or a family member still uses Photos on a device running Jelly Bean, it'll just stop getting updates, but should continue to work for quite some time to come.
Faces versus People
Left: v3.13. Right: v3.14.
As a quick note, since it is tangentially related to the teardown below, there is one super subtle change if you're looking very closely. The word 'person' has been replaced with 'face' in every string that relates to detection and sharing. It looks like this change was made with respect to pets, which I recently learned, also have faces.
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.
But while we're talking about pets, a new prompt suggests users will have the option to hide pets. Judging by the name of the string, it looks like this is specifically related to hiding pets from shared albums and/or libraries.
<string name="photos_partneraccount_people_pet_cluster_warning_message">This will also remove your pets from Shared Libraries</string>
On the other hand, this may just be a question Photos might ask if you toggle off the "show pets with people" option in settings, though it isn't appearing when I try it right now.
Sharing photos from Drive
Carrying forward with the topic of Shared Libraries, it seems Photos may begin asking users if they'd like to share photos from Google Drive. Again, this is relevant to automatic sharing, and it seems to be asking if users want Google Photos to inspect pictures added to Google Drive and share some or all of them with other people. Naturally, if a shared library is limited to sharing pictures of specific people or pets, logically only the pictures from Drive containing those same faces should be shared.
<string name="photos_partneraccount_drive_share_warning_message">You are sharing photos automatically with %s. If you continue, photos from Drive may automatically be shared.</string>
<string name="photos_partneraccount_drive_share_warning_message_no_name">You are sharing photos automatically. If you continue, photos from Drive may automatically be shared.</string>
Favorites might be getting closer to launch
It has been a while since we've talked about Favorites, a fairly normal-looking feature for marking photos you'll look at or refer back to frequently. It first turned up in a teardown back at the end of August, but activity has been relatively quiet since then. However, the latest update adds promo text to explain to users that they've added a photo to favorites and can now easily find it there.
<string name="photos_favorites_promo_dialog_body_photo">Easily find this photo in your Favorites album</string>
<string name="photos_favorites_promo_dialog_body_video">Easily find this video in your Favorites album</string>
<string name="photos_favorites_promo_dialogs_positive_button">Go to favorites</string>
This text isn't important by itself, but promo text like this often signals that a feature is getting close to launch. It could happen with this version, or possibly in an upcoming release, but it probably won't be too far away.
Austin's Mysteryer feature gets cryptic
It's times like these that I wish I had hours to spend poking around for easter eggs. Our favorite secret developer, The Notorious A.U.S.T.I.N. is switching things up again for the infamous mysteryer feature.
When we last left off, Austin had a greeting for teardown readers: "Hello Android Police." With the release of v3.14, the message has been changed. Replacing it are four new words that seem entirely unrelated: Robin, Jauz, Brita, and Airplane.
Are these secret coded messages from the C.I.A.? Maybe a Google-y treasure hunt with an awesome prize at the end? Perhaps Austin is just f-ing with us? I can confirm the strings are referenced in code, but sadly, there are other APKs demanding my attention, so I'm not going to embark on this quest just yet.
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.