Google Photos Drops Support for Android Jelly Bean

Google Photos

A new build of Google Photos is now rolling out into the Google Play Store and while it doesn’t bring any new features, it does raise the oldest supported version of Android.  The new Photos build is version 3.14 and with it, API level 19 is the oldest supported level.  That, for those who don’t recall, is Android KitKat.

The dropping of the now five year old Android Jelly Bean in this update to Google Photos isn’t a surprise.  Google has been slowly, and mostly quietly, moving the minimum supported API level up on their apps over the past year.  It is all in an effort to keep their development activities focused more on current versions of Android where they can offer more features.

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Google Photos Now Can Generate Theme Movies from Your Photos

Google Photos Movie Themes

Google Photos has a new video creation feature that can turn photos from your library into a themed video for you to share.  The video can be nine different themes including, appropriately enough for February, St Valentine’s Day.  The feature is rolling out now to all accounts on Google Photos both on the web and in the app.

The nine themes include:

  • They Grow Up So Fast – takes photos from your library of children as they get older
  • Meow Movie – photos of your cat into a movie because, cat videos
  • Doggie Movie
  • In Loving Memory – video for friends and family who have passed on
  • Selfie Movie
  • Smiles of 2017
  • Mother’s Day Movie
  • Father’s Day Movie
  • Valentine’s Day Movie

Using the new tool is as simple as selecting the theme you want, then selecting the subject of that video and tap next.  Once you do that, Photos will start creating the video behind the scenes on your phone.

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App Preview Messaging Now Supported for Google Photos

Google Photos for Android

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.

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Google Backup & Sync Update Brings Network-Attached Storage Support

Google Backup and Sync

A new update to the Google Backup & Sync app for MacOS and Windows 10 is rolling out that brings a lot of fixes and a few new features.  The updated build is version 3.39 for those keeping score at home.  This new build was released on February 1st so it is likely that you already have it installed as Google pushes updates to Backup & Sync behind the scenes.

For those who use Network-Attached Storage (NAS), this update is an important one for you as it is finally supported.  You can now backup files and folders stored on a NAS to your Google Drive.  The folder has to be mounted and you will be able to add a NAS folder from the My Computer section of Google Backup & Sync.

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Google Photos Update Brings Improved Notifications for Photo Books

Google Photos

A new update to the Google Photos app is now rolling out in the Play Store, bringing several tweaks and enhancements to the photo storage app.  The update is version 3.13 for those keeping score at home.  One of the first changes you will notice is around Photo Books.  In this update, you can now get much more granular around book notifications, your draft photo books and promotions being offered.  Previously these were on by default.

There is also a new Share Back feature.  This works when you have an album shared with you in Google Photos.  In the overflow menu, you have the option to share back to that person immediately.  This will be a great feature for friends who want to share albums together.  For family members, it is still recommend you use the Partner Account sharing feature.

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Google Photos View Being Removed in Google Drive

Google Photos in Google Drive

Google is in the process of rolling out a change they announced back in early December 2017 where viewing of Google Photos will no longer be available in Google Drive.  To be clear, this is in reference to the Google Photo menu option on the left.  If you click on that either online or in the Android/iOS app, you will no longer be able to view them.  Instead, you be prompted to go to Google Photos to view them.

Google Photos in Google Drive
Google Photos in Google Drive

The change is in an effort to simplify the connection between Google Photos and Google Drive.  Users were confused on where exactly to go and manage or edit photos as it appeared you could do it in both services.  Now Google is pushing everyone towards Photos for photo management.

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Google Photos Auto Creating “Smiles of 2017” Videos

Google Photos

Google Photos has been quietly rolling out a new AI-driven movie to many users over the past few days.  The new video will show up in your Assistant tab in the app and it titled “Smiles of 2017”.  With the hint in the name, you’ve probably guessed that this short video consists of photos of people smiling, be it selfies or other people that you have photographed over the past year.

The video falls under what is commonly referred to as the “auto awesome” features of Google Photos.  That is, the app which is driven by Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, will scour your photos to create photos or videos based on the content of your photos.

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