As always, Google took some time at I/O 2021 to show off some new features coming to Google Photos. While the update isn’t as exciting as the Google camera team finally working to take more accurate pictures of people of colour, it’s still bringing some much-needed improvements like the ability to hide sensitive pictures.
The least technological update coming to Google Photos is a new section called ‘Locked Folder’ that allows users to hide photos behind a passcode so prying eyes can’t easily see them.
This is likely a smart place to store things like pictures of your ID and other important information. Beyond that, I can’t think of a single other thing that users might want to hide from their default photo reel.
Google doesn’t say when this is going live, but it’s coming to Pixel phones first and then the rest of the app’s platforms throughout the year.
Adding motion to motionless photos
This is an update that I’m a little less sold on, but it does seem to add some cute effects to simple photos.
In this update, the Google Photos app uses AI to combine similar photos and then implement fake frames between the pictures to create a subtle motion effect. Google is calling these ‘Cinematic Moments,’ and they do work well and sort of recreate Apple’s Live Photo effect without having to actually record any video.
New photos memories
Google Photos Memories have been around for a while now and can do a good job of rounding up picutres taken at a similar place or featuring similar faces.
To expand on that functionality, Google is now using machine learning to recognize objects in a photo set. The example Google showed off at I/O found tons of pictures of an orange hiking backpack and then created a memory based on photos that only featured this backpack. This may not seem like the most exciting thing, but combining photos from a bunch of camping trips into one album just because they all feature the same backpack is actually very smart.
According to Google, this object recognition aspect will start rolling out later this summer, and more memories based on things like Lunar New Year and Diwali are coming later this year.