Google is disabling the Google Photos app's image and video backup for folders created by services like WhatsApp, Messages, and Kik. In essence, that means that by default, photos and videos from those services saved on your phone won't be backed up by Google Photos going forward. The change appears to be temporary, and Google hopes it will make a dent in internet resource utilization during the ongoing pandemic. If you prefer, you can easily revert the change manually to re-enable those backups at any time.

The change comes courtesy of an announcement to the Google Photos Help Community, and a separate notification will also be rolling out via the Google Photos app as part of the change starting today.

More details are available in an associated help document, but the very short version is that Google Photos is changing its default setting to disable backing up content in device folders created by apps like WhatsApp, Messages, and Kik. A full list of affected apps is not seemingly available, but XDA Developers' Mishaal Rahman tells us folders from following apps are included:

  • Facebook
  • Helo
  • Instagram
  • LINE
  • Messages
  • Messenger
  • Snapchat
  • Twitter
  • Viber
  • Whatsapp

Previous backups aren't affected by the change, and you can re-enable the setting if you wish to, or manually backup individual items.

This sort of effort seems a bit late. YouTube set its own throttles and limits to help ease internet congestion months ago, and other streaming services like Netflix imposed (and subsequently relaxed) their own temporary changes, as well. Google Photos is a bit late to the "save internet bandwidth during the pandemic" party — though I hope it makes a difference in my rapidly ballooning Rocket League ping.