Last month, Google Photos celebrated its fifth anniversary. Nothing marked the occasion, but a bottom bar redesign of the mobile app is underway, and the Android app today reveals work on a way to browse images on a map.

About APK Insight: In this ‘APK Insight’ post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

Version 4.52 of Google Photos describes development on a “Map Explore” feature to “Explore your world”:

Relive the places you’ve been by exploring your photos that have location info, including shared photos you’ve saved. Your map uses location info such as:

  • Your camera’s GPS
  • Your Google Location History
  • Detected landmarks

Using GPS data and Google Location History — which is already leveraged by the Timeline in Google Maps — is quite straightforward, but landmark detection is clever. This takes advantage of the service’s broader ability to recognize what appears in your images.

We’ve since enabled the feature in full. It’s accessible at the top of the new Search tab. A map — with hotspots — appears on the top half of the screen, while a bottom sheet shows images in the current map view.

Meanwhile, it looks like you can remove photos from the map by getting rid of location data. This will be useful for any mismatches:

<string name=”photos_mediadetails_mapexplore_impl_removed_from_google_photos”>Removed from Google Photos</string>

<string name=”photos_mediadetails_mapexplore_impl_removed_from_google_photos_desc”>This file still contains location information that cannot be removed by Google Photos</string>

Other strings describe prompts that will encourage you to zoom out to find photos:

<string name=”photos_mapexplore_ui_interstitial_title”>Explore your world</string>

<string name=”photos_mapexplore_ui_main_page”>Explore Map</string>

<string name=”photos_mapexplore_ui_no_photos”>No photos in this area</string>

<string name=”photos_mapexplore_ui_zoom_out_to_see_photos”>Zoom out to see photos</string>

The Explore Map will likely launch with the broader redesign of Google Photos that simplifies navigation. You’ve always been able to search by location/city/country, but a dedicated map view will be extremely fun and useful. This feature is not yet rolled out.

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: