Android Photo Picker Now Lets You Search Your Gallery

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Android's Photo Picker now includes gallery search and cloud photo integration, enhancing photo management and sharing on Android 12+ devices.

Google has announced a significant update to the Android Photo Picker, bringing new functionality that allows users to search their photo galleries more efficiently. This update is part of the February 2024 Google System Update and is set to roll out to devices running Android 12 and later.

What’s New with the Android Photo Picker?

The most notable change in this update is the integration of cloud photo services directly into the Photo Picker. Previously, the Photo Picker was limited to accessing photos stored locally on the device. Now, it can seamlessly merge local photos with those stored in cloud services like Google Photos, providing a unified browsing experience.

When users open the updated Photo Picker, they will see a combined view of their local and cloud-stored photos. This eliminates the need to switch between different apps to access all their media. A new banner, “Cloud photos now available,” will inform users about the feature upon its first use.

Enhanced Search Functionality

One of the key enhancements is the ability to search through the gallery, including cloud-stored photos. This feature addresses a significant limitation of previous versions of the Photo Picker, which did not include a search function. Users can now quickly find specific photos by typing keywords, making the process of locating and sharing images much more efficient.

Integration with Google Photos and Other Apps

Google Photos is the first app to support this new feature. When users opt to integrate Google Photos, their cloud-stored images will appear alongside local ones in the Photo Picker. Albums, including favorites, are prominently displayed, and a new “Cloud media app” settings page allows users to select their preferred cloud service or revert to local-only photos if desired.

This integration is not exclusive to Google Photos. Google has opened the API to other cloud media apps as part of a pilot program, encouraging developers to integrate their services with the Photo Picker. This move aims to create a more cohesive and user-friendly experience across various media management apps.

Developer Integration and Backporting

For developers, incorporating the new Photo Picker functionality into their apps is straightforward. The Android Developers Blog has provided detailed instructions on how to update apps to support the enhanced Photo Picker. This includes updating dependencies and integrating new code snippets provided by Google.

Additionally, while the new Photo Picker capabilities are primarily available on Android 12 and newer versions, Google has backported some features to devices running Android 4.4 KitKat. This ensures broader compatibility and allows developers to prepare their apps for a seamless transition to the updated system.

User Experience and Privacy

The updated Photo Picker also prioritizes user privacy. By integrating cloud services directly into the system picker, Google reduces the need for apps to request extensive permissions to access media files. Users retain control over which apps have access to their photos and can easily manage these settings.

The Android Photo Picker update represents a significant step forward in media management on Android devices. By merging local and cloud-stored photos and adding robust search functionality, Google is enhancing the usability and convenience of photo sharing and management.


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Lakshmi Narayanan

Lakshmi has a knack for diving deep into the world of technology and extracting stories that resonate with our readers. Her articles often explore the broader implications of tech advancements on society and culture.

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