Google Photos will soon always show RAW images in main feed


On Pixel phones, enabling the Camera app’s RAW+JPEG capture results in an on-device “Raw” folder. Google Photos might soon offer a more integrated experience for RAW images in the app.

About APK Insight: In this “APK Insight” post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.


At the moment, taking RAW shots (on Pixel and other Android devices) creates a similarly named folder that by default has “Backup” disabled even if main upload is turned on. (It makes sense that people don’t want these bigger files to be automatically and immediately backed up.) As they are not stored in the cloud, these RAW pictures don’t appear in the main Photos feed/tab. 

Version 6.20 of Google Photos reveals an upcoming change that will always surface RAW pictures — regardless of Backup state — in the main feed. Expect the following prompt to appear once live:

<string name=”photos_raw_burst_tooltip_title”>You can now access the RAW photo here</string>

Even if Google Photos Backup is disabled, RAW images will appear alongside every other picture:

<string name=”photos_raw_move_banner_title_backup_off“>New RAW photos will appear in the Photos view</string>

RAW images in Google Photos today

If you have both general and Raw folder Backup enabled, RAW images will apparently “no longer be saved in this folder.” Hopefully, this is just a surface-level UI change referring to the Google Photos folder, and the actual RAW folder in the file system won’t disappear. Images in the grid view will presumably continue to be marked with the camera lens icon in the top-right corner. 

<string name=”photos_raw_move_banner_title_backup_on_raw_backup_on“>New RAW photos will appear in the Photos view and no longer be saved in this folder</string>

What’s more curious (and currently unclear) is how those who have general Backup enabled but Raw folder upload set to off should apparently expect to have RAW images always uploaded. It’s possible that the below string has a typo, with “now” actually being “not.” That would make a lot more sense.  

<string name=”photos_raw_move_banner_title_backup_on_raw_backup_off“>New RAW photos will appear in the Photos view and will now be backed up</string>

Google Photos 6.20 is not widely rolled out. Devices that are already running that version do not have a different experience, so there’s presumably a server-side component.

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, from which some APK Insight teardowns benefit.

Kyle Bradshaw contributed to this post.

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