Google Photos will lock some new features behind a paywall

Google has been working on adding premium editing features to Google Photos for the last couple of months. Back in March this year, we first spotted evidence of this feature in an APK teardown of Google Photos v4.45. At the time, we learned that the features would only be offered to Google One members. In the following update, we unearthed more strings, which suggested that the Photos app would “upsell” the new premium editing tools to users. However, the strings shed no light on the editing features. Now, we’ve finally managed to find some concrete evidence about the upcoming features in the latest Google Photos release.

An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by the developers in a future build.

Google Photos v5.18 recently started rolling out to users via the Play Store. On the surface, the update only includes bug fixes to “improve saving and storing of edited photos and videos on SD cards.” But a teardown of the APK has revealed strings that highlight new information about the premium editing features.

As a Google One member, you get access to extra editing features

Get extra editing features with a Google One membership

Unlock this feature and more with a Google One membership

Unlock more editing features and {storage_amount} of storage with a Google One membershipFirstly, the strings include new prompts that will alert the user of the premium editing features and urge them to get a Google One membership. These new prompts will read as follows: “As a Google One member, you get access to extra editing features,” “Get extra editing features with a Google One membership,” “Unlock this feature and more with a Google One membership,” and “Unlock more editing features and {storage amount} of storage with a Google One membership.” But while these new prompts explicitly mention the premium editing features, they reveal no information about exactly which features will be locked behind the Google One subscription.

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Update: Andy J in the comments says that the “Color Pop” editing feature is locked behind a Google One paywall for him. We wrote about this test in more detail in this follow-up article.

Preprocessing suggestionsNext up, we found new strings that talk about preprocessing suggestions coming to Google Photos:

Dynamic

HDR

VividThese strings suggest that the photo editor in the app will offer three preprocessing suggestions — Dynamic, HDR, and Vivid. But at the moment, it’s unclear how these suggestions will be shown to the user.

Skypalette suggestionAnd finally, the following strings suggest that Google Photos might soon get new filters to help users edit the sky:

Afterglow

Airy

Ember

Luminous

Radiant

StormyThe Skypallete suggestions include six filters — Afterglow, Airy, Ember, Luminous, Radiant, and Stormy. These filters will, most likely, work like Sky replacement filters found in the MIUI Gallery app, allowing users to swap the sky in their images with the included presets.

As of now, we can’t confirm if the new Preprocessing and Skypallete suggestions will be locked behind the Google One subscription. But since they’re being developed at the same time as the new premium editing lock out, that may be the case.

Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.