A new update for Google Photos is rolling out, and this one is taking aim at making backups possible in regions where data connections are generally slow and expensive. A new Express backup mode is in the works that automatically downscales images and video for more timely and less costly transmission to the cloud. There will also be a new setting that allows users to set daily limits on how much data to spend on performing backups.

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.

Express backup mode, starting in India

Google Photos has achieved a number of milestones since its launch in 2015, including some cool facial and object recognition capabilities and clever interface designs. But there's no denying that the biggest draw for most users is the cloud backup functionality; particularly the free unlimited backup for high quality photos.

Unfortunately, backing up photos and video is pretty demanding on data, which poses some real challenges to users on slow or metered connections. As reported by 91mobiles, Google is working on a new backup mode called Express that will be joining the current High and Original quality options. Much like the High quality mode, Express will downscale photos and videos, but it will be more aggressive with the compression, cutting the resolution of photos to 3 megapixel and videos to standard definition.

strings
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_basic_quality_title">Express</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_basic_quality_subtitle">Free fast backup at reduced resolution</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_basic_quality_photo_resolution">• Photos compressed to 3MP</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_basic_quality_print_size">• Good quality prints up to 6 x 8 in.</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_basic_quality_upload_size_selected">mobile_optimized quality size selected</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_basic_quality_videos_resolution">• Videos compressed to standard definition</string><string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_high_quality_title">High quality</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_high_quality_subtitle">Free backup at high resolution</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_high_quality_photo_resolution">• Photos compressed to 16MP</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_high_quality_print_size">• Good quality prints up to 24 x 16 in.</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_high_quality_videos_resolution">• Videos compressed to high definition</string><string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_original_quality_title">Original quality</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_original_quality_subtitle_limited_storage">Full resolution backup, first %s GB free</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_original_quality_subtitle_unlimited_storage">Full resolution backup, unlimited storage</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_original_quality_resolution">• Photos &amp; videos in full resolution</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_original_quality_price">• Paid plans available for more storage</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_original_quality_print_size">• Recommended for large prints</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_original_quality_storage">• Unlimited storage for your account</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_original_quality_subtitle_fallback">Full resolution backup, limited to account storage</string><string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_settings_basic_quality_title">Express (free unlimited storage)</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_settings_high_quality_title">High quality (free unlimited storage)</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_settings_original_quality_title">Original quality (full resolution, first %s GB free)</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_settings_original_quality_title_fallback">Original quality (limited to account storage)</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_settings_original_quality_title_unlimited_storage">Original quality (unlimited account storage)</string>

Express backup should make it possible to get decent photos into the cloud when possible to safeguard them in the event that the phone they were taken on is damaged or lost. Google has confirmed that Express backup will begin with a limited rollout to users in India, but could expand to other markets in the future.

Some of the other standard implementation details are also spelled out in text, for example, switching to a higher quality backup mode will launch into a re-upload of everything that was uploaded in a reduced quality.

<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_backup_mode_title">Backup mode</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_backup_mode_reupload">Choosing a higher quality will also re-upload existing items from this device</string>

Limiting daily backups

Another feature driven by the need to be responsible with data backups will be configurable data caps. Google Photos will be gaining a setting that allows users to set a daily limit on how much data can be used to upload backups. It will be possible to set a cap as low as 5MB/day, after which any remaining photos or videos will wait until the next day to resume uploading.

The cap appears to only apply to cellular connections, and like normal, Photos will attempt to backup everything when it reaches WiFi. It's not clear if there will be special treatment for metered Wi-Fi.

<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_daily_cell_data_limit_title">Daily Cell Data Limit</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_daily_cell_data_limit_subtitle">Applies to backup only. Wi-Fi is always used when available.</string><string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_data_cap_label">%d MB</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_free_unlimited_storage">• Free unlimited storage</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_no_data_cap_label">No data</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_settings_cell_data_title">Cell data usage</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_settings_data_cap_title">Daily limit for backup</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_settings_finite_cell_data_subtitle">%s MB daily limit for backup</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_settings_no_cell_data_subtitle">No data used for backup</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_settings_unlimited_cell_data_subtitle">Unlimited data used for backup</string>
<string name="photos_devicesetup_basicstoragepolicy_impl_unlimited_data_cap_label">Unlimited</string>

As you might expect, it's still possible to share photos or force manual backups after your daily limit has already been met, but there will be a warning that cellular data may be used and could exceed your configured limit.

<string name="photos_upload_manual_data_dialog_title">Cell data is used</string>
<string name="photos_upload_manual_data_dialog_description_limited">To back up selected items, cell data is used. You may go over your Google Photos daily cell data limit.</string>
<string name="photos_upload_manual_data_dialog_description_zero_data_cap">To back up selected items, cell data is used when there\'s no Wi-Fi</string>

The data cap setting isn't directly tied to Express backup, so you'll be able to use it with High and Original quality backups too. However, the initial rollout is also targeted at India with the possibility of expanding to a wider audience in the future.

Rules for sharing partners, kids, and pets

I don't really expect there to be anything too special here, but I thought it might be worth pointing out that three new lines were added that make distinctions about picking pictures of kids, people, and pets. This is distinct from the current rules that simply ask you to pick faces to share. This may hint at upcoming changes and additions to the sharing features, or it might simply be part of relatively minor tweaks to the hints given by the UI.

<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_people_picker_child_promo_title">Select kids</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_people_picker_partner_promo_title">Select a person</string>
<string name="photos_autoadd_rulebuilder_people_picker_pet_promo_title">Select pets</string>

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