At its Nexus press conference in September, Google announced that shared albums will be coming later in the year to the well-received Google Photos app. The feature is rolling out now and as the name suggests, it allows users to add friends and family to their photos in a particular album.
But it’s not limited to just adding friends and family to an album. The new feature makes taking photos at events more collaborative. For example, if you threw a party and everyone was collectively taking photos and videos, you could create an album and each person would be able to add their own media. Members in the album get notifications when new pictures are added.
“Sharing photos and videos between friends and family after your birthday bash or holiday gathering shouldn’t be difficult,” James Gallagher, engineering lead for Google Photos, said in the blog post announcement. “But between the great shots your brother has buried on his iPhone and that friend who keeps forgetting to email you her pics, you’re often left reliving the event through just the photos and videos you took yourself.”
Another example Google Photos director Anil Sabharwal demoed on-stage at the September event involved his ability to share an album with his mother to keep her in the loop about what’s happening with her grandchildren. It’s very similar to photo-sharing in Apple’s iCloud, but Google Photos isn’t exclusive and is available on a variety of devices.
To make a shared album, select photos from the sidebar, hit the plus button to make an album, and then send the link to whomever you wish to add. Google says the feature works with whatever device your family and friends are using — whether tablet, laptop, Android or iPhone. If someone is added as a contributor, they need a Google account to participate, but anyone with the link can view the album and download photos. The album owner decides who can add their own content to the album.
The photos are saved in chronological order based on when they were taken, not added, but shared album images can be rearranged by the album owner. Sadly, you can’t yet comment, caption, or like any of the photos or videos. The collaborative albums are not automatically saved into your Google Photos library, but the update brings the option to add them.
Dave Lieb, product lead for Google Photos, said to The Verge that comments and likes will be added to shared albums in a staged approach. Lieb also said that shared albums are private unless the user explicitly shares them with someone.