With developer program, Google Photos is about to become a lot more versatile

What if Google Photos could digitize your old photos, turn receipt photos into an expense list or send new photos to that digital photo album? Well, Google Photos will soon be able to tackle all that and more — but Google is not exactly the one building in all those features. On Wednesday, May 9 during I/O, the tech giant announced the Google Photos Partner Program. The program allows developers to integrate Google Photos into their apps for a more seamless experience, expanding Google Photos beyond just that native app.

The developer’s program gives app designers code that allows them to access specific features of the Google Photos app. The move allows apps to access the Google Photos library, add to that library or share from that library. 

While the API will allow a number of different developers to access the tools, Google’s presentation during I/O already lists a number of apps integrating the tools. Timehop can use the access to surface old memories from Google Photos. HP Sprocket, a mobile printer, can access those photos from the printer’s app to create a physical copy. Expense app Xero can look through the Google Photos Library to collect photos of receipts to include in an expense list. Legacy Republic, a company that digitizes old photo albums, can use the API to deposit scanned photos into the user’s Google Photos account. And digital frame company Nixplay can automatically send images sent to a shared album to the frame.

The API allows developers to build Google Photos integration into their apps in three different ways. Through a connection, which allows the app to access Google Photos with the user’s permission. An upload option allows other apps to send images to Google Photos or to create an album. And a sharing function allows other apps to create shared Albums — like a photo booth company creating a shared folder so you have more than that spit out physical print.

While some of the potential updates are just simple convenience, app developers will also be able to access some of the technology behind Google Photos. The apps can filter images to help users find the right one using Google-built filters, for example.

Google is providing the access — what stems from the developer’s program is up to third-party app developers and the structure and limitations of the API. Google, however, says they use a stringent app review process before allowing access, which includes checking up on apps rather than a one-and-done type of approval process. The program uses strict privacy guidelines, Google says, and users have to explicitly allow the app access to enable the access, uploads, and shares.

The new developer partner program comes after Google announced new artificial intelligence tools inside Google Photos, including suggested actions and edits, along with colorizing black and white photos.


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