Under the auspice of spring cleaning, Google Photos is redesigning its Library and Sharing tabs over the coming weeks. There’s a focus on easier sorting of albums and shared content, as well as the introduction of various shortcuts.
The Library tab today starts with compact links to Favorites, Utilities, Archive, and Trash. This is followed by a carousel of on-device folders and a grid of albums in the cloud.
Google is now rolling out a grid (or list) layout for most of this page with filters to determine which albums appear. Options in that top carousel include All, Your albums, On device (folders created by apps), and Shared albums as sorting is available in the upper-right corner. The previous Favorites shortcut and the Camera roll are now depicted by full album tiles.
Update 3/25: The redesigned Library tab is already rolling out to iOS with version 5.83 released yesterday. Google provides a brief explanation of the changes:
Only 10 albums are shown before you have to select “Show all.” Below that is a list to access your Locked Folder, Utilities, Archive, and Trash. “Import photos” is also a new option at the bottom to let you:
- Copy from other services: Facebook, iCloud, and more
- Digitize photos, videos, or film: Convert physical media to digital formats
- Copy from a camera: Add media from digital cameras
- Back up your device folders: Stored on this device by other apps
- Scan photos with your phone: Using PhotoScan
Google has also greatly simplified the Sharing tab in Photos. The boring list that came before is now separated into three distinct sections. There’s a carousel of “Shared albums,” while lists below show your three most recent “Conversations” and “Shared links.”
As you scroll, a “Start shared album” button is docked above, and partner sharing is at the top of this feed. In all, this makes for simplified management with the redesigned Sharing tab rolling out on Android this week and iOS “coming soon.”
Elsewhere, the top of the Photos tab will remind you about recent screenshots that are just stored on your device for users who don’t upload that folder to avoid backup clutter. Google also confirmed that it’s soon rolling out on Android a carousel of contextual Google Lens suggestions when you view a screenshot.
The redesigned Sharing tab is great as it brings much needed organization and categorization. At the same time, it highlights which share options are available in Google Photos.
However, the same cannot be said of the Library tab, where I think Google oversimplified. The focus of this redesign is to simplify the app, and Google likely accomplished that goal for most people. That being said, I think some (power) users will balk at the oversimplification of the Library tab into basically one grid/section instead of having separate, distinct segments for on-device and cloud albums that are easily accessible. Now, you always have to switch views instead of everything being immediately there.
If anything, both types of folders appearing side-by-side will confuse people when they don’t see an automatic Instagram or WhatsApp album on the web. The old design is objectively more complex with both a grid and carousel. However, I believe that people understood and appreciated the difference. Meanwhile, moving the 2×2 grid of quick actions from the top to the very bottom will make for a tedious scroll, while it’s no longer guaranteed that Favorites remains in a static, muscle memory-friendly position.
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