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(Pocket-lint) - Google is revamping the way you can share photos through its Google Photos service. It's basically introducing a private messaging feature.

Since launching in 2015, Google has allowed you to share individual photos through Google Photos by creating an album for a single photo and sharing the link. Google Photos also had other sharing options via live albums, shared libraries, and shared albums, all of which make sharing loads of photos easy. But now, when you share a photo or video, you’ll see the option to add it to a private conversation in the app.

Google said you'll be able to like photos and even comments in the conversation, and you can save photos or videos in any chat to a gallery without a loss in image quality. Here's what you need to know.

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How to chat in Google Photos

Google says that, as long as your friend or loved one has Google Photos, they can open messages you send and view the photos and videos you've attached. In the actual conversation itself, you can both start chatting too, as well as react to the photos with likes, etc.

  1. Click a photo or video your Google Photos library.
  2. Select the share option for the photo. Existing chats should appear.
  3. Pick a contact or group of contacts to message.
  4. In the message pane, add your message.
  5. Once done, press send.

This feature isn't supposed to "replace the chat apps you already use", Google said, but it hopes to improve your Google Photos experience.

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When will this be available?

Google is gradually rolling out this feature in early December 2019. It should be available to all users on Android, iOS and the web.

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So, is that it? What's the point?

The share-chat feature isn’t too complicated: You can start a group chat with any number of people, and you can all like posts, comment, and share more. We suspect Google may evolve the feature over time, however. Just think about it. Google Photos has over one billion users. It is a huge product, and there's no reason why it can't morph into a chat app like Facebook Messenger or even a photo-sharing app like Instagram.

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Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on 4 December 2019.