Google Photos adds automated sharing through ‘Live Albums,’ which can stream to Home Hub

Just ahead of today’s Google’s hardware event, the company quietly rolled out an update to its Google Photos application which introduces a new, automated way of organizing and sharing photos: Live Albums. [Update: Google has now announced the feature. See below.] According to the app’s “What’s New” description, Live Albums appear to be a spin-off from partner sharing, introduced last year. But instead of automating sharing of a set of photos – like those of a child – between just two people, Live Albums allow you to automate the sharing of people and pet photos with anyone you choose.

For example, the feature could be used to share photos of your children with your extended family, instead of just a spouse. You could also specify certain, close friends who would always receive the photos you took together.

Easy, collaborative photo sharing has been something of a holy grail for photo apps for years. It’s been the basis of numerous startups including Bump, whose founder David Lieb now leads Google Photos, Fabric, Batch, Color, Cluster, and many more. Facebook Moments also tries to make collaborative photo sharing easier.

But automation using A.I. technologies and facial recognition is a next step, and one that makes Google Photos an even more compelling app.

In practice, it means that you wouldn’t have to manually share photos with certain people ever again – you can just set up a Live Album once, and then allow the automation to take over.

The feature was previously spotted in testing, in an APK breakdown done by Android Police last month. However, today’s iOS app update text indicates it’s now rolling out to a broader set of users.

That may be a staged rollout, though, as not everyone has access to the feature at this time. It’s also not currently mentioned in the update text of the Android version, but Google keeps its cross-platform apps in parity, with few delays.

Here’s the full text of the change, per the App Store description:

Introducing Live Albums, an easier way to share with loved ones. Select the people and pets you want to see and Google Photos will automatically add photos of them as you take them. Now your family and friends will always see the latest photos, no manual updates needed.

It seems we’ll hear more at today’s Google event about the news, given Google Photos has been teasing updates on its Twitter account.

Update: Google officially introduced Live Albums during its event this morning, as a feature that will work alongside its new smart screen, Home Hub.

The company said that the feature means the photos displayed on the Home Hub will “never get stale because Live Albums update automatically every time you take any pictures.”

In the meantime, we’ve reached out to Google for further comment. We aren’t expecting a response as this news is likely being held until the event later this morning.

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