The Google Photos app is getting a redesigned, AI-powered Memories feature to help you find your life’s highlights among the clutter of your everyday snaps and videos.
The Memories carousel, which Google says is used by half a billion people every month, was introduced four years ago at the top of the Android and iOS app. It automatically picks out what it considers to be your most important photos and videos, but Google is now making it a more central part of the app.
From today in the US (other regions in the “coming months”) the Memories feature is moving to the bottom of the app’s navigation bar and getting some useful new tricks. One of these is the ability to “co-author” Memories albums with friends and family, in a similar way to shared albums.
This feature sounds particularly handy for big events like weddings, as you’ll be able to invite friends or family to collaborate on specific Memories and add their photos and videos to help fill in the gaps. You can also save any Memories that are shared with you to your Google Photos account.
Google is also promising to add a couple of other new features to Memories soon. If you’re struggling to think of a title for your collection of snaps (which we can’t imagine is a major issue) then you’ll be able to use generative AI to come up with some suggested names like “a desert adventure”. This is apparently an experimental feature, and only currently available to “select accounts in the US”.
Perhaps more useful will be the option of sharing your Memories as videos, which means you’ll be able to send them to friends and family who aren’t on Google Photos in messaging apps like WhatsApp. Google says this is “coming soon”, but unfortunately hasn’t yet given a rough timescale. Knowing Google, that could be anything from three months to three years, but we’ll update this article when we hear something more specific.
Google upgrades the photo album
While these are only minor tweaks to the Google Photos app, they do show that Google increasingly sees its cloud photo service as a social app.
The ability to “co-author” Memories albums is something that’ll no doubt be used by millions for events like weddings, vacations, pets, and celebrations. And as Google Photos isn’t used by everyone, the incoming option to share Memories as videos to WhatsApp groups and other messaging apps should also prove popular.
On the other hand, these AI-powered photo albums have also sparked controversy with their sometimes insensitive surfacing of unwanted memories and photos. Google says that its updated Memories view lets you quickly add or remove specific photos or videos, or hide particular memories, to help with this.
On the whole, the Memories feature is certainly an upgrade to having to pass around a physical photo album, and its AI powers will no doubt improve rapidly if half a billion people continue to use it every month. If it works as well as it does in the demos, it could effectively be an automated highlights reel of your life.