Google today announced a new messaging service integrated with Google Photos. It works almost like a traditional messaging client, but its sole purpose is to make sharing images with others easier.
New only currently available in the United States
The company has begun offering a way to upload photos and chat directly with another user or users of the Google app. This feature will allow users to quickly and easily share unique photos or videos with others, rather than having to create a shared album, for example.
The feature itself is simple to use. Instead of creating a shared album for a single photo, you can simply send it directly to someone and start a private conversation.
Simply select the photo, tap the share icon, and then select the option to upload the photo to Google Photos. Then you can touch the icon of your most frequent contacts or search for a user by name, phone number or email:
The recipient will need a Google account to receive the photos as they will need to log in to view the conversation. Since not everyone is a Google user, this may limit the new feature.
You can also use this feature to start a group chat by selecting "New Group", then adding recipients. Once a chat has started, you can return to it at any time from the "Sharing" tab in Google Photos. Here you can see the photos and videos each shared, comments, chats and likes. You can also save the photos you want to your phone or tap the "All Photos" option to see only the photos without conversations around them.
Google explained that the idea with the new direct sharing option is not to replace users' favorite messaging apps – a strategy that differs from Google's investments in apps like Hangouts and Allo in previous years. Instead, the feature wants to reallocate to Google Photos some of the photo sharing activities that occur in messaging apps.
The new feature is now available today for iOS, Android, and Web apps. If the feature doesn't immediately appear to you, wait a few more days.