Google Photos receiving broad redesign, removes hamburger menu

Google Photos receiving broad redesign, removes hamburger menu

Following Xiaomi’s official teaser of the Redmi Note 9 series yesterday, images have leaked of the ‘Pro’ variant revealing the rear design while identical renders show cutout selfie camera.

Google Photos has been one of the company’s most popular services since its offering of unlimited photo and video storage (with compression) back in 2015. Since that time the app has visually changed very little, with the only notable UI update being the addition of a bottom nav-bar and dark mode in 2017 and 2019.

This design inflexibility means that Google Photos is somewhat out-of-step with the company’s own Material Design 2.0 guidelines (which offer suggestions for app design), and the innovations of more modern smartphone interface design, so the news today that Google is now finally looking to update and refresh their Photos UI and UX is welcome, as the clash of old and new philosophies is sub-optimal.

This visual overhaul, revealed by ‘Thiago’ to Android Police, leaves much of the general interface with regards to the vertically-scrolling timeline as it was, but alters and generally improves almost everything around that core experience; firstly, it entirely removes the old hamburger menu and updates the top bar to Google’s modern style – however in doing so Google has inexplicably removed the search functionality from said top bar, and instead adds a search button to the bottom nav-bar. Worse still, this search button does not immediately take you to a search interface with the keyboard open, but instead reveals a redesign of the page that reveals when tapping search bar in current builds:

Google Photos receiving broad redesign, removes hamburger menu
Old v New Google Photos main page
Google Photos receiving broad redesign, removes hamburger menu
Old v New Google Photos search page

As you can see, in terms of design the new look is visually much more pleasing, with much larger previews of people (including their names, finally), and other tags by which to sort through your photos. It is unfortunate, and classic Google despite the fact that they’ve always touted the simplicity of their Search as tantamount, that it now requires two taps to actually search via keyboard.

We also see that the old ‘Albums’ tab, which let you look through any folders of photos – on-device or on-cloud – you might have has now been replaced with a ‘Library’ tab, which also brings in the remaining tabs that were previously accessible from the hamburger menu, such as the ‘archive’ and ‘trash’:

Google Photos receiving broad redesign, removes hamburger menu
Old v New Google Photos album/library page

Overall I appreciate the redesign – it’s been a long time coming given the general distaste for hamburger menus in modern UX design – but I wish searching hadn’t been neutered, and I can also imagine a better order for the nav buttons to be in; Photos, Library, Search, For You, Sharing, as this would conform with Google centering the Search button in their other apps.

As usual, Google is rolling out this update randomly to users via server, not client update, so expect to see this redesign yourself in the coming weeks.

Located in Melbourne, Australia, Oscar has been a tech enthusiast for over a decade, though only finally getting his first smartphone in 2014 with an HTC One M7, followed by a OnePlus 2, OnePlus 3, Essential Phone, and now Xiaomi Mi 9T. Now studying astrophysics and linguistics, Oscar has become immersed in the evolving phone industry, with a great memory for specs and details, he is always looking for the best value smartphones to recommend.