Google Photos first rolled out the Locked Folder to Pixel phones before bringing it to other Android devices at the end of 2021, and is now working on adding cloud backup.

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 case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

The Locked Folder hides pictures and videos from the main “Photos” grid and search, as well as the system file picker. Existing images that have already been uploaded are deleted from the cloud if you decide to move them into the Locked Folder. As Google Support explains (emphasis ours):

  • Items in your Locked Folder that are saved to your device aren’t moved to other devices during cable or cloud data transfers.
  • If you uninstall the Photos app or clear your Photos app data, you’ll lose all items in your Locked Folder. To save these items, remove them from Locked Folder before you make changes.

Version 6.23 (via Android Police) of Google Photos contains strings detailing how you’ll be able to “Back up photos & videos in Locked Folder on this device to your Google Account.” It will be interesting to see whether Locked Folder — currently Android-only — will become available on the web as a result. If so, it might blur the lines with the “Archive” capability.

Since the Locked Folder launched, some users have not understood that lack of a cloud backup, especially when getting a new device. It appears that backups are always expected in Google Photos, and the app is now acquiescing to that. 

Cloud backups for the Google Photos Locked Folder are optional, and have not yet launched. 

<string name=”photos_backup_settings_locked_folder_category”>Back up Locked Folder</string>

<string name=”photos_backup_settings_locked_folder_off”>Backup is off</string>

<string name=”photos_backup_settings_locked_folder_on”>Backup is on</string>

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, from which some APK Insight teardowns benefit.

Kyle Bradshaw contributed to this article.

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Abner Li

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