In brief: Google is utilizing its strength in machine learning to provide a new way to surface old photos. Memories is a take on the "stories" style format popularized by Instagram and Snapchat except it's your private photos instead of publically shared. Google is also adding the ability to order prints for pickup or delivery to the home.
Google Photos has generally been one of the better photo storage services and today, Google is adding a new feature to rediscover old memories. It's called...well, Memories. It's a format that looks similarly to the "stories" that are popular with Snapchat or Instagram.
Previously, rediscovering older photos that you may have forgotten involved delving into the Assistant tab at the bottom of the Google Photos app. Now, the memories will show at the top of the screen above your recent photos as small circles. Once you tap on the circles, it will show you a selection of photos that were taken on that day. Google stresses that although this looks like the public stories format on other social media sites, these photos are strictly private.
The photos are curated using machine learning to discover photos that are probably meaningful and are of good quality. Helpfully, Google realizes that not all the photos we have are worth bringing back up so users have the ability to hide certain time periods or even certain people. If you can't remember exactly the date or occasion, you can even search for text in the photo. Google used the example of trying to find a photo of a carrot cake recipe and literally just searching for words in the recipe. If you don't necessarily care about Memories, you can shut the feature off.
Other new features include a future update that will enable users to send photos as a direct message to another user. The photos will be an ongoing conversation that's only between you and the other person.
If you prefer actual physical photos instead of digital, Google is also allowing users to order 4x6 prints directly from Google Photos and pick them up the same day at a CVS Pharmacy or Walmart. You'll also be able to order canvas prints directly from Google Photos which will be sent right to your home. Canvas prints start at $19.99 with sizes ranging from 8x8, 12x14, and 16x20.
The new features (except direct messaging) are available today on iOS and Android. Direct messaging is supposedly rolling out "in the coming months". Google is clearly trying to combine popular social media features with the strength it's machine learning algorithms.