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Google Photos’ Search Tool Just Got Worse for Some Users

Google Photos app on a smartphone application icon on iPhone X screen close up

This probably won’t come as a surprise, but Google just made one of its products worse. In a new support thread, the company explains that Google Photos will no longer use your “Location History” to approximate where an image was taken. Instead, it will try to guess the image’s location based on visual clues, such as landmarks or signage.

Update, 2/22/23: Google is now emailing customers to warn of this change. If you want to keep estimated location data, open your Google Photos app. A prompt will appear and ask for your preference. You have until May 1st to make this choice.

In other words, the “Search by Location” feature in Google Photos will get a lot less effective. But only for some users.

Google doesn’t always “approximate” where a photo was shot. If you have location tagging enabled in your camera app, this change doesn’t matter—your photos already contain geolocation metadata, which Google Photos will use.

But if location tagging is disabled in your camera app, Google is forced to guess where an image was shot. Previously, this was done by checking the “Location History” associated with your Google account (something that users can disable). Now, Google says it’ll guess where a photo was shot based on visual clues.

I have a feeling that this visual tagging system will work decently. But it won’t work perfectly. Anyway, next time you open Google Photos, it should ask if you want to keep approximated location data for your old images. You have until May 1st of 2023 to decide—if you don’t make a decision, the approximated location data will automatically disappear.

Source: Google via Android Police

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is the News Editor for Review Geek, where he covers breaking stories and manages the news team. He joined Life Savvy Media as a freelance writer in 2018 and has experience in a number of topics, including mobile hardware, audio, and IoT. Read Full Bio »