In my opinion, Google Photos is probably the best service the company has ever released. Like all of Google's first-party apps, it was just a matter of time until it got its own refreshed aesthetic to match Android 9 Pie. A so-called "Material Design 2" update to Google Photos has just landed together with a major version change to v4.0. So far almost all the differences are skin deep, but we've got a download if you'd like to take a look.

There is one small bit of added functionality: a new way to access the "Info" panel for a given image via an upward swipe. However, it's only intermittently accessible. We aren't sure if that's a bug related to DPI differences in the APK and our devices, or some intentional inconsistency in behavior stemming from a failure to understand the intended mechanism.

Sometimes info, sometimes none, can't explain that.

As with everything Google, YMMV. I've found it seems easiest to trigger dead center beneath the photo, but experimenting with different dragging speeds, angles, etc., hasn't produced any consistent way to control the behavior. Apart from that, this is the same Google Photos you've probably known and used for years.

 

Old interface (left), updated interface (right).

Most of the changes are in font and iconography, with Google/Product Sans percolating throughout and a new Pie-style set of outlined icons decorating visual labels across the app. The notification bar and navigation bar are both now white with gray icons, matching other updated Material Design 2 apps. (As an aside, Google seems to hate that everyone calls this updated aesthetic "Material Design 2," but unfortunately the label seems to have stuck.)

Old (left), New (right). The same applies to both pairs below.

  

We're still digging in case we find anything new, but so far a cursory teardown hasn't revealed any major new features. Barring the inconsistent "Info" page appearing on a swipe, all the changes in Google Photos v4 that we've found so far are visual.

If you'd like to take a look for yourself, we've managed to snag the updated APK for your side-loading pleasure. Odds are that, with the app now in the wild, an official update is in some level of deployment. So if you aren't willing to manually install Google Photos v4 to check things out, you probably don't have too long to wait.

  • Thanks:
  • Moshe,
  • Kieron,
  • Nick,
  • Funny Valentine,
  • Ajdin,
  • and everyone who sent this in.