Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Google Photos is 5 Years old and brand new

Google Photos was released in May of 2015, see the launch video here. To celebrate 5 years and over 1 Billion users, Google has given the app a major facelift. First of all, it has a new logo.

 Old icon

 New icon

Simplify, simplify, simplify

What should the app focus on? Based on watching their users, the Google Photos team has decided that reminiscing is the core of the app. With the thousands of photos we all collect in our lifetimes, and our lack of time to manually organize them all, the ability to be reminded of our memories is of great value.

With that in mind, the Google Photos team cut down the main choices (Tabs at the bottom) from 4 to 3, putting Search front and center. Search is so good - that's nothing new - the hope is that seeing the search icon as one of only three tabs, will make people use it.

The Memories section at the top is kind of like Facebook stories. Just enjoy. Click on one and watch a little slide show. Go back thru the years and see photos you forgot you had. New with the redesign is "Recent Highlights." That's where Google picks what it thinks are the best of your recent photos. Just watch and enjoy. You'll also find the old "For You" creations in this memories section. If you're ever bored and in need of some entertainment, try opening up your Google Photos, click on the first tile of the Memories section and just watch. I'll bet you'll like it.

Old app

  1.   3-line menu (aka “Hamburger”) menu
  2.  Search bar
  3.  Chromecast button (only if on a network with Chromecast)
  4. Google Account profile button
  5. Quick scroll button (disappears when not scrolling)
  6. Memories – content of this area will change depending on which tab is selected
  7. Photos – content of this area will change depending on which tab is selected
  8. Tabs

 New app

  1. Sharing – takes you to sharing screen
  2. Chromecast button (only if on a network with Chromecast)
  3. Google Account profile button, find Settings and help here
  4. Quick scroll button (disappears when not scrolling)
  5. Stars represent favorites
  6. Tabs: Photos, Search, Library
  7. Photo Grid – content of this area will change depending on which tab is selected
  8. Memories – only shows at the top of Photos tab

Where did everything go?

If you are accustomed to using the Google Photos app, it is disconcerting at first when you open the new app. There is no 3-line menu at the top left, there is no search bar at the top, no Albums tab, For You, or Sharing. Everything is still there, they've just rearranged the furniture. Here is a grid of where to find the old things using the new app. They've moved a lot of functionality under the new tab at the bottom called "Library." Most anything to do with managing your library of photos is there. The other button where you'll find a lot of the moved furniture is the Account profile button at the top right. Settings, Free up Space, backup status, and Help & Feedback are there.

The New Map View of Photos

There's not a whole lot that's new in this version, mostly just rearranged, but one new thing is pretty spectacular and that's a Map of your memories. Just tap the Search button and right away you'll see a way to "Explore Map."  If you pinch the map, you can see all of North America on one screen with a "heat map" of where you have taken pictures. 

Zoom in on a location and you'll get a split screen with the map on top and a grid of photos/videos on the bottom. You can move the map and the photos will change accordingly, or you can scroll thru the photos and the map will change accordingly. It's very fast, and very cool. Good job Google!

Any questions? Please leave a comment below.

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the blog, and author of Mrs. Geek's Guide to Google Photos
She loves to teach! If you want to learn, you’ve come to the right place.


  1. Pressing "Search"brings up a screen with "People", "Places", "Things" - if I choose one of the "Things" I get all the appropriate photos - works fine; but if I press the "View All" option alongside "Things", I get a grid of all the "Things" options and at the bottom of that screen there is a message "Review photos to improve how your content is organised. Get started". Sounds really useful but when I press Get Started, I get a photo and a question "Does this contain {searchQuery}? with Yes/No/Not sure options to answer. Am I missing something or is this not working correctly at the moment? As ever, many thanks for this extremely useful summary of the new Google Photos

  2. What you describe is how it is supposed to work. The questions represent the AI trying to learn from you. The more you tell it whether a photo contains X, the more it learns, the better it gets.

  3. Chris.... great description of the updated Google Photos app. Now a question. I'm in Canada. I have the updated icon on my Android phone. The app was updated several days ago. When I open the app, I see the old layout on the screen. The version is Any chance this is a country thing - not available in Canada.... yet?

    1. No, it's just the way that it rolled out. Have you tried force quitting the app and then re-opening it? For most people that has done the trick.

  4. How do you change the location of a place on the map? I have pictures on the map showing the Grand Canyon that were taken in Yellowstone. I admit some of the pictures that I took of the canyon in Yellowstone could be mistaken for the Grand Canyon but one shouldn't have been. Is there a way to correct the map?

    1. Yes, using the computer/web version of Google Photos you can open the photo, click on the i for Info and you will see a pencil next to the location information. Click that pencil and you can enter a new location. Unfortunately it must be a named location you can type in, so it won't be very accurate ... Yellowstone National Park ... is a big place. You can refer to a separate map and maybe find a named place like "Upper falls of the yellowstone" to get more accurat.

  5. When should we see the update? Both the web version and my S9 still show the old version.

  6. It should be there by now. Try force quitting the app and re-opening it. If that doesn't do the trick, check your Play store to see if there is an update there.

  7. Nice to Google to change its APP functionality...for me I would like to see a change to the way Albums are presented. I have 100s of albums and I would like to be able to structure their display as I can most easily get to the one I am looking for. I would like a way to place my Albums is folders so I can manage them by categories. At a minimum, I would like them to implement a way to let me move Albums around that makes sense to me.
    When will your updated version of your Google Photos book be available. This book has been very useful for me.
    Thanks for keeping us all up to date on Google Photos,
    Bill Hoyland

  8. I also would like some album management tools. Please use the feedback feature (found under the account button) to add your voice to the request. As for my book, I've set a launch date of Sept 1