Google Photos can back up images, edit your photos, share albums — and now you may not have to download the full app to get those features. Google Photos online platform is now available as a Progressive Web App, which means the webpage has similar app features without talking up space on your smartphone for the app itself. The Progressive Web App is available on browsers that support PWAs, including Chrome on Android and Chrome OS, at photos.google.com.
Google was quiet about the change, but users spotted the update over the weekend. Inside Chrome with the PWAs enabled, Google Photo maintains more of the app’s features from the web browser. PWA webpages can also be saved as a shortcut on the home screen, which allows users to access the webpage in a process just like opening the app.
The Google Photos PWA allows users to access their images similar to the access inside the app, including creating albums, sharing photos and the assistant. Android users using Chrome may also get a popup shortcut to add the webpage to the home screen. The PWA version is missing a few things, however, including notifications and offline photos.
PWAs use less device storage than the complete apps while offering some of the same feel. Google says PWAs are also designed for a reliable and fast experience. Google Photos move to a PWA helps users access photos stored online while taking up less space on the device itself.
Google introduced PWA at the Chrome Dev Summit in late 2016. The format treats the webpages like an app rather than opening them in Chrome. And while Google Photos doesn’t appear to support notifications in PWA form yet, the format makes it possible to enable features like notifications even without the full app download. Since the launch, PAWs have been activated for Chrome Dev and Canary apps, while Safari is also adding support.
Google launched several tweaks to the Photos Platform over the last few weeks. Social reactions are arriving inside the app, while a developer program allows for third-party integrations with the cloud photo service. Last month, Google also rolled out new artificial intelligence-powered features for the app.
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