Google Photos is fairly fresh off of its Material Theme update, but the latest version doesn't appear to have any significant changes on the surface to add to the new look. But that's not where the interesting things are on this update, we're looking into the APK to find details of what is coming in the future. The big addition will be an enhanced album that uses facial recognition to fill itself with pictures of your family and friends. Photos will also begin directing people to install a RAW editor if they're taking photos in that mode.

Teardown

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 wrong or inaccurate. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that products could change or may be canceled. 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. All screenshots and images are real unless otherwise stated, and images are only altered to remove personal information.

Live albums

Google Photos is working on a socially enhanced form of sharing that will be called live albums. Judging by the text, the concept is really quite simple: Live albums will basically be normal albums with the features of shared libraries (a.k.a. partner sharing) sprinkled in. Users will be able to create shareable albums that automatically use Google's face detection to identify and add photos containing selected friends, family, and pets.

This is a pretty significant improvement, given that regular albums don't support any kind of automation. And to come at this from the other angle, partner sharing only works between two accounts, whereas the live album feature will be accessible by anybody that has the link to that album. Collaboration is also supported, and both the owner and other followers will receive notifications when new pictures are added.

strings
<string name="photos_autoadd_stringprovider_impl_live_album_callout_banner_title">This is now a live album</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_stringprovider_impl_live_album_enabled_dialog_title">Live album enabled</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_stringprovider_impl_live_album_enabled_dialog_desc">You are automatically adding photos to this album. Anyone with the link to the album will see photos as they\'re added.</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_stringprovider_impl_live_album_enabled_dialog_positive_button">Share</string><string name="photos_autoadd_stringprovider_impl_first_time_receive_live_album_banner_title">This is a live album</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_stringprovider_impl_first_time_receive_live_album_dialog_msg">Photos are automatically added based on selected face groups.\10Automatically add your own photos in album options. &lt;a href=help:&gt;Learn more&lt;/a&gt;</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_stringprovider_impl_first_time_receive_live_album_banner_msg_one">%s is adding photos automatically</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_stringprovider_impl_first_time_receive_live_album_banner_msg_other">Others are adding photos automatically</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_stringprovider_impl_first_time_receive_live_album_dialog_neutral_button">Album options</string><string name="photos_autoadd_api_default_live_album_name">Family &amp; friends</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_action_mode_done_button_text">Turn on</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_empty_album_button_label">Automatically add photos of people</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_empty_album_button_label_with_pets">Automatically add photos of people &amp; pets</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_include_existing_photos">Add older photos from your library</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_notify_when_photos_added">Notify me when my photos are added</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_people_loading_error">Trouble loading faces</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_people_picker_creation_intent_explanatory_text">An album will be created in Google Photos. New and existing photos with any of the selected people will be auto-added.</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_people_picker_creation_intent_title">Select family &amp; friends</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_people_picker_private_album_explanatory_text">New photos any of these faces appear in will be automatically added to this album</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_people_picker_shared_album_explanatory_text">New photos any of these faces appear in will be automatically added to this shared album. Anyone with the link to the album will see photos as they\'re added.</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_people_picker_title">Select faces</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_people_picker_title_with_pets">Select people &amp; pets</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_rule_creation_error">Trouble adding auto-add rule</string><string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_add_rule_content_description">Add new face</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_backlog_loading_toast">Older photos may take longer to appear</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_face_rule_content_description">Face for which photos will be auto-added</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_item_subtitle">Based on a face search</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_item_subtitle_collaborate_off">Album owner turned off collaboration</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_item_subtitle_limit_reached">Album photo limit reached. &lt;a href=help:&gt;More info&lt;/a&gt;</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_item_subtitle_with_pets">Of selected people &amp; pets</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_item_title">Automatically add photos</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_item_title_disabled">Live album paused.</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_notify_setting_change_error">Trouble saving auto-add notification setting</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_notify_setting_change_in_progress">Saving auto-add notification setting</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_notify_subtitle">When my photos are added</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_notify_title">Notify me</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_remove_cluster_button_content_description">Remove this face</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_remove_cluster_confirmation_cancel_button">Keep on</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_remove_cluster_confirmation_confirm_button">Stop</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_remove_cluster_confirmation_description">Previously added photos will remain in the album</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_remove_cluster_confirmation_title">Stop auto-adding photos of this face?</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_rule_creation_error">Trouble adding auto-add rule</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_rule_deletion_error">Trouble removing auto-add rule</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_rule_deletion_success">Auto-add rule removed</string>
<string name="photos_envelope_settings_autoadd_rule_load_error">Trouble loading auto-add rules</string>

<activity android:name="com.google.android.apps.photos.autoadd.api.LiveAlbumCreationGatewayActivity" android:exported="false" android:theme="@style/Theme.Photos.Translucent.NoTitleBar.NoActionBar" />
<activity-alias android:name="com.google.android.apps.photos.autoadd.api.LiveAlbumCreationActivityAlias" android:enabled="true" android:exported="true" android:label="@string/photos_theme_google_photos" android:targetActivity="com.google.android.apps.photos.autoadd.api.LiveAlbumCreationGatewayActivity" android:theme="@style/Theme.Photos.Translucent.NoTitleBar.NoActionBar">
<intent-filter>
<action android:name="com.google.android.apps.photos.CREATE_LA" />
<category android:name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT" />
</intent-filter>
</activity-alias>

<activity android:name="com.google.android.apps.photos.autoadd.rulebuilder.AutoAddRuleBuilderActivity" android:exported="false" android:label="@string/photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_people_picker_title" android:resizeableActivity="true" android:theme="@style/AutoAddPeoplePickerTheme" />

There's a fairly large amount of text here, plus a couple of activities, but not really much in the way of additional details. It's not clear if there are other things separating live albums from regular albums, or any other things to note with regards to partner sharing, but we'll likely see those emerging soon enough.

Finding RAW editors in the Play Store

The addition of RAW support in Android 5.0 Lollipop was a big deal to some people, even if the cameras in 2014 era smartphones still weren't exactly living up to the hype. Regardless of photo quality, it was an important step towards saving many shots from being thrown out simply because they weren't lit very well or the white balance was a mess. Two years later, the Photos app also began adding support for the format, eventually enabling cloud backup of RAW images. And after a false start, Google even got its own Camera app involved with... oh wait, that still hasn't happened. :(

Ignore that last bit, the important part is that if you have RAW images on your phone, Google Photos will begin suggesting that you download a proper RAW editor so you can get the best out of those shots. This actually isn't an elaborate thing, Photos will just link to a custom page in the Play Store with nothing but RAW editors.

<string name="photos_editor_selecteditor_a11y_play_store_link">Search raw image editors in the Play Store</string>
<string name="photos_editor_selecteditor_chooser_raw_format_limited_support">Limited RAW support</string>
<string name="photos_editor_selecteditor_chooser_raw_format_play_store_link">Get RAW editors from Play Store</string>

A quick look at the Play Store will reveal plenty of RAW photo editors are now available, including Google's own Snapseed. The purpose of this little tip is obviously less about helping people find an editor and more about simply making them aware that such a thing exists.

Download

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