Interactive map to quickly find photos and explore your past travels
With a completely updated information architecture, there is now a dedicated top-level tab for everything search related in Photos. Within the Search tab, a new map view provides a heat map of everywhere someone has taken photos. We were able to take the map view from a rough hack week demo to production-ready in 8 months. This was "the fastest I've ever launched a feature at Google" according to one of the developers. Because of the tight deadline, I collaborated closely with another UX designer and a motion designer for this project.
Although we had a working demo, this would be the first time Photos had an interactive map, so we wanted to explore all posibilities before confirming that something similar to the demo would be the best approach.
After initial design explorations, we ran user research sessions to identify confusing edge cases and answer specific questions about initial zoom levels and visual design. User research also allowed us to better prioritize and stack rank followup features after launch.
With a working demo, questions answered from research, and additional visual design explorations completed, each team member specced out the parts of the feature they had been working on most closely. All specs remained in Figma to improve the speed and quality of collaboration and keep everyone on the same page.
Continuing collaboration with the Android and iOS engineering teams was all the was left to get the project completed and ready for launch. We had to make some tradeoffs to meet the tight deadline, but seeing 100s of users screenshot and share the feature with no built in sharing tools (yet) was strong evidence that people were using and enjoying the map view.
See the current map experience below or try it out with your own photos in Google Photos on iOS or Android (tap Search, then Explore Map)!