Following the release of App Preview Messaging for Google Allo and Google Duo, support for the feature has now been added to Google Photos. If you don’t recall what App Preview Messaging is exactly, it is a function that allows those who don’t have the app installed to get a notification on their Android phone. In this case, they can then action that notification by viewing the photo or, optionally, installing the Google Photos app.
The feature works when someone shares a photo with you from Photos and sends that share notification to your mobile number. This will trigger the notification which will have the name of the sender. If you don’t know the sender, you can block them or you can open the notification to see the content. From there, you are taken to the Photos website where you can install the app on your phone.
Technically, the App Preview Messaging feature is driven out of Google Play Services on your phone via an API which is still in preview. Google is obviously doing a lot of internal testing with the API on their own apps but you can expect over the course of this year to see more apps offering similar function once the API is public. The feature has some benefits in that it will expose more people to the app, in this case Google Photos, and encourage them to download it.
From an end user perspective, this update is primarily on the cloud-side of things from Google. The latest version of Google Play Services is needed but that generally is an automatic, behind the scenes update for everyone so you and your friends or family you want to share with likely already have it.