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 nearly as exciting as Google’s camera team finally working to take more accurate photographs of people of color, it still brings some much-needed enhancements, such as the ability to hide sensitive images.
The less technological update coming to Google Photos is a new section called ‘Locked Folder’ that allows users to hide photos behind a passcode so that they cannot be easily seen by prying eyes.
This is likely a smart place to store things like photos of your ID and other important information. Beyond that, I can’t think of one more thing that users want to hide from their default photo roll.
Google doesn’t say when it will launch, but it will hit Pixel phones first and then the rest of the app’s platforms throughout the year.
Add motion to still photos
This is an update that I’m a little less sold on, but it seems to add some cute effects to simple photos.
In this update, the Google Photos app uses AI to combine similar photos and then implement mock frames between the images to create a subtle motion effect. Google calls them ‘Cinematic Moments’, and they work well and recreate Apple’s Live Photo effect without having to shoot any video.
New photos memories
Google Photos Memories has been around for a while and can do a good job of rounding out photos taken in a similar location or with similar faces.
To extend that functionality, Google is now using machine learning to recognize objects in a set of photos. The example Google showed at I / O found tons of images of an orange hiking backpack and then created a memory based on photos that only showed this backpack. This may not sound like the most exciting thing, but combining photos from a bunch of camping trips into one album just because they all have the same backpack is actually pretty smart.
According to Google, this object recognition aspect will start rolling out later this summer, with more memories based on things like Lunar New Year and Diwali coming later this year.