Google Photos tests larger text in the image library and other changes

Google Photos tests larger text in the image library and other changes

At Google I/O last month, Google unveiled the third major iteration of its design language. Material You brings an updated look and feel to Android and other Google-developed platforms. The new design emphasizes customization, rounded corners, and big header text. We caught an early glimpse in the Android 12 beta at how Google is tweaking Android’s design to be more one-handed friendly, and now we’re seeing evidence that the same design principles are being extended to the Google Photos app in subtle ways.

An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by the developers in a future build.


Tipster @damned_im reached out to us stating that they spotted a new design in version 5.43 of the Google Photos app. In the screenshots they sent us, we could see that Google made the header text for the date much larger. The images reminded us of the new Settings app in Android 12, but interestingly, our tipster was running Android 10 on a first-generation Pixel. It shouldn’t be too surprising to see a Material You-redesigned app on an older Android version, though, since it’s just a new design language and not actually part of the latest OS version. The only aspect of Material You that’s limited to Android 12 is the updated color extraction algorithm used for theming the system and apps based on your wallpaper, but even then, less robust color extraction APIs exist in older OS versions. (Of note, the actual theme generation algorithm is proprietary to Google.)

In any case, with a bit of effort, we were able to enable the Google Photos redesign that our tipster showed off. Apart from making header text much larger, there are also a couple of functional changes. For example, when you zoom in and scroll through the image library, the date the current set of images was taken on is persistently shown on the top left (second image below). Over the past few weeks, Google Photos has added a bunch of new memories featured at the top, but the app is also preparing to show these memories in-line with the image library (third and fifth images below). If you created an album of images on a certain date, that album may also be shown in-line when you scroll through the image library (fourth image below). Finally, the Photos app is also testing an overflow menu that, when tapped, shows a “select” button. If all images on a given date were taken at a recognized location, then the overflow menu may also show a “view on map” button that quickly takes you to the app’s map view.

New design

Old design

Google Photos is the first major Google app that we’ve spotted a Material You-esque redesign for. There are hints that Google Chrome is getting a big redesign, but the changes we’ve seen so far have been subtle. We’ll keep an eye out for more tweaks in the Photos app, since we’re still not seeing one of the most anticipated changes: support for “monet.”

Google Photos
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.

About author

Mishaal Rahman
Mishaal Rahman

I am the former Editor-in-chief of XDA. In addition to breaking news on the Android OS and mobile devices, I used to manage all editorial and reviews content on the Portal.

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