Google Photos is 5 Years old and brand new

Google Photos was released in May of 2015, see the launch video here. To celebrate 5 years and over 1 Billion users, Google has given the app a major facelift. First of all, it has a new logo.

 Old icon

 New icon

Simplify, simplify, simplify

What should the app focus on? Based on watching their users, the Google Photos team has decided that reminiscing is the core of the app. With the thousands of photos we all collect in our lifetimes, and our lack of time to manually organize them all, the ability to be reminded of our memories is of great value.
With that in mind, the Google Photos team cut down the main choices (Tabs at the bottom) from 4 to 3, putting Search front and center. Search is so good – that’s nothing new – the hope is that seeing the search icon as one of only three tabs, will make people use it.
The Memories section at the top is kind of like Facebook stories. Just enjoy. Click on one and watch a little slide show. Go back thru the years and see photos you forgot you had. New with the redesign is “Recent Highlights.” That’s where Google picks what it thinks are the best of your recent photos. Just watch and enjoy. You’ll also find the old “For You” creations in this memories section. If you’re ever bored and in need of some entertainment, try opening up your Google Photos, click on the first tile of the Memories section and just watch. I’ll bet you’ll like it.

Old app

  1.   3-line menu (aka “Hamburger”) menu
  2.  Search bar
  3.  Chromecast button (only if on a network with Chromecast)
  4. Google Account profile button
  5. Quick scroll button (disappears when not scrolling)
  6. Memories – content of this area will change depending on which tab is selected
  7. Photos – content of this area will change depending on which tab is selected
  8. Tabs

 New app

  1. Sharing – takes you to sharing screen
  2. Chromecast button (only if on a network with Chromecast)
  3. Google Account profile button, find Settings and help here
  4. Quick scroll button (disappears when not scrolling)
  5. Stars represent favorites
  6. Tabs: Photos, Search, Library
  7. Photo Grid – content of this area will change depending on which tab is selected
  8. Memories – only shows at the top of Photos tab

Where did everything go?

If you are accustomed to using the Google Photos app, it is disconcerting at first when you open the new app. There is no 3-line menu at the top left, there is no search bar at the top, no Albums tab, For You, or Sharing. Everything is still there, they’ve just rearranged the furniture. Here is a grid of where to find the old things using the new app. They’ve moved a lot of functionality under the new tab at the bottom called “Library.” Most anything to do with managing your library of photos is there. The other button where you’ll find a lot of the moved furniture is the Account profile button at the top right. Settings, Free up Space, backup status, and Help & Feedback are there.

The New Map View of Photos

There’s not a whole lot that’s new in this version, mostly just rearranged, but one new thing is pretty spectacular and that’s a Map of your memories. Just tap the Search button and right away you’ll see a way to “Explore Map.”  If you pinch the map, you can see all of North America on one screen with a “heat map” of where you have taken pictures. 
Zoom in on a location and you’ll get a split screen with the map on top and a grid of photos/videos on the bottom. You can move the map and the photos will change accordingly, or you can scroll thru the photos and the map will change accordingly. It’s very fast, and very cool. Good job Google!
Any questions? Please leave a comment below. Also see our YouTube show where we went thru all the changes: Episode 194 What’s new with Google Photos.

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the blog, and author of Mrs. Geek’s Guide to Google Photos
She loves to teach! If you want to learn, you’ve come to the right place.

8 thoughts on “Google Photos is 5 Years old and brand new”

    1. It’s true that the actual setting is 2 layers down, however, if your phone has more than a few photos ready for “Free up space” a suggestion will appear right after tapping the Account button. Just below “Backup Complete” you will see “999 items to delete from this device” Tapping that message is doing a Free up space.

  1. Very pleasant icon and great new setup for Google Photos. I was a great fan of Picasa a time ago now I have another improvement to have fun with. Thanks …

  2. Thank you for all the clarification on the new Google Photos.

    I have one question and it is not about the update but an issue with my “photos” on iPhone and iPad. The photos in my albums disappeared when the update was done. I’m hoping you can suggest how to restore them. It was a lot of work creating them and I really don’t want to have to do it manually only to have them disappear again at another update to Google Photos,

    1. Diana, It sounds like you’re referring to albums created using the native Apple Photos app. Albums only exist in the app that created them. So, to see albums created in Apple Photos, you need to open the Apple Photos app. If you want those albums in Google Photos, you need to recreate them with Google Photos. The individual photos will be in Google Photos, just not the album structures.

  3. When I select collections the biggest icon is the photo book shop, order now for free delivery. I am not interested in in buying photo books. Why bother people. Make it possible to remove it. Thanks.
    Anyway Picasa was and is always better for me.

    1. Sandro – I think you should give the photo books a try. I have several and I love them. Best part is they only take a couple minutes to make. In any case, sorry but there is no way to get rid of the book shop icon. Realize this is one way that Google makes money to support the free app we all use. I don’t begrudge them the space to advertise their services – especially since it is the only advertising in the whole system.

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