Google Photos for Android has been updated with a much needed and welcomed change around photo editing. The changes are found in version 1.17 of the app, which is currently rolling out to the Google Play Store and devices. The update brings what is commonly considered “non-destructive” photo editing. It means that your original photo is stored along with the edited version in one file and if you want to go back to your original photo, you simply undo the edits. This behavior is quite common in other photo editing apps but, until now, was not in Google Photos.
In the app, when you edit a photo and tap the Save button, you will get a pop-up that lets you know that the edited photo is being saved and that if you want to undo those edits to use the Undo Edits feature in the menu. The other big change that comes with this editing update is that you no longer have duplicates of photos that you have edited. Until now, when you edited a photo, your original photo was kept safe while your edited version of that photo was saved as a separate file. That, effectively, created a duplicate photo which more than one user found confusing, especially if you made very minor edits to the photo (like color saturation) as in some cases it was hard to know which was the original and which was the edit.
Now when you edit a photo in Google Photos, the original is saved in the edited version of the photo. More accurately, the file details have flags for the edits you have made so when you open up the photo, the flags are used to tell the app how to render your photo. Use the menu to Undo Edits kills these flags, ala, your photo goes back to the original. This type of saving of photos is great because you don’t fill up your app with seemingly duplicate photos: Your original photo and your edited photo(s). It also makes undoing those edits a bit easier and faster.
If you use Google Photos, you can expect the new version to come to your device via an OTA update over the course of the next few days.