Google is overhauling its Photos app for Android and iOS to bring it more in line with the modern realities of photography. Most notably, it includes a map view — you can easily browse all the photos you took on your last vacation (when vacations were still a thing), or remember which street corner had that sculpture you liked. This only applies if location tagging is available for your photos, and you can always edit or turn off locations.
The revamp otherwise focuses on a simpler top-level redesign. It’s down from four tabs to three, with less commonly-used features stuffed into those categories. The main Photos section now includes larger, more densely-packed thumbnails that auto-play videos, and a prominent Memories carousel helps you relive key moments. A Search tab helps you quickly find an ages-old picture based on what, where and who you were capturing. The Library tab is more of a catch-all — it includes the Albums section as well as your favorites, your archive, the trash and (in the US, Canada and EU) the Print Store. Effectively, Google is acknowledging that people have gigantic collections that aren’t always well-organized.
There are also some important changes to Memories. There are more formats for the auto-generated collections, such as weekly highlights and photos with close friends and family. And crucially, you can hide specific people or time period. If there’s a person you’d rather forget or a trip that has bittersweet memories, you won’t dredge them up by accident.
The refreshed Photos is rolling out this week, so don’t be surprised if you still see the old interface for a little while. You’ll know you’re eligible to see it when you see the revised pinwheel app logo. Google certainly has an incentive to launch this quickly. Apple is planning to refresh its own Photos app in iOS 14 with new filtering and sorting options, so Google can’t afford to sit still.