Google Photos is seeing stars (and hearts) with new social reactions

Google Photos is continuing a push to serve as both a photo storage platform and a social media site by rolling out an essential social network feature: Reactions. Google photos will soon have a star and heart option on photographs, the company tweeted on Monday, May 21.

The two different reaction icons serve two different purposes. The heart is available when viewing photos friends have shared on the platform. The reaction is available for individual photos and entire albums. When a friend reacts to your photo or album, a heart icon with their name appears underneath.

The star, on the other hand, is designed for your own photos. Tapping the star icon in the app will mark photos as a favorite, collecting all the favorites into one automatically generated album, similar to the heart icon in Apple Photos. Favorites won’t work on photos friends have shared with you, however, unless you add the photo to your own Google Photos library.

While both take up a small portion of the screen, they could be a significant update for users. Just imagine Facebook without the like button or Twitter without the heart icon. Google Photos is more dual purpose, serving both as a cloud photo service and as a way to socially share images through shared albums or with Google contacts.

The heart icon serves as a social tool, while the favorites are geared to beef up Google Photos’ existing options that help users find photos faster. Once users start selecting favorites, those shots will appear in a new Favorites albums. The option works alongside the platform’s existing auto-generated albums like the ones organizing people, places, and things.

The announcement follows an even longer list of Google Photos updates the company shared during I/O earlier this month. The platform’s assistant can now help create effects like color pops or colorize a black and white photo using artificial intelligence. Other updates include suggestions to share photos with the person in the image. During I/O, the company shared that Google Photos now has 5 billion photo views every day.

The star icon to mark favorites is rolling out this week, while Google didn’t share an estimated arrival date for the hearts.

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