Google Photos flirts with returning to an interface we thought was too big


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Google loves to change up the look every once in a while – that’s why Android 12 got a makeover with Material You. Usually, a whole new design philosophy means that all of its apps will follow, whether with dynamic themes or bottom navigation bars. It’s not often we see Google revert to an older design, but with an unexpected change to Photos, the company seems to be setting a pattern with its current trends.

As spotted by @PrajjwalPorwal on Twitter, Google Photos briefly displayed a three-line hamburger menu in the app before it disappeared after a restart. The icon did nothing when tapped, just turning on without opening a specific menu or performing any other action. We haven’t seen the menu icon appear on any of our devices, so without further context, it’s unclear if this was just a bug or something Google is testing to roll out. possibly to users.


It comes at an interesting time. Last month, the company updated Google Messages to feature a new three-line menu icon, something the app didn’t feature before. Generally speaking, these menus have been removed from Android apps over the past couple of years, with services like the Play Store discontinuing them for good. Google Photos actually lost its hamburger menu icon in May 2020, after which the app officially switched to bottom bar-based navigation.

Google may be staging this icon to make a comeback in 2022, though that would certainly be an unexpected move. Still, with Photos Now the second app in which we’ve seen a hamburger menu button reappear, anything is possible.

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