Google Photos has disrupted the cloud media backup industry. By offering unlimited storage for photos and videos on your smartphone for free (with a bit of compression), using the app is a no-brainer for any Android (or even iPhone) user. An increasing number of Android phones (like the Google Pixel and HTC U11) only have the Photos app, and no other default Gallery app preinstalled.
But is Google Photos the only image viewer you need on your phone? Probably not. Here are the reasons why you’ll want to install another app as well.
Why Don’t You Love Google Photos?
There’s no question that I absolutely love Google Photos. There are several features to love other than just photo backup: its search and face recognition is industry-leading, and it intelligently creates albums, animations, and even movies of events.
It even has some ingenious features like a click-and-drag gesture to highlight multiple photos swiftly, and a one-click button to free up space by deleting media from your phone that’s already backed up. If you have a Google Cast device like a Chromecast, you can easily beam your photos and videos to the big screen. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Having said that, there are some interesting Gallery apps out there that do much more. Many of them also have that familiar “Gallery app” feel, which should make users feel right at home.
The Best Third-Party Gallery App: QuickPic
QuickPic has been the go-to third-party image viewer app for Android for several years now. This app has some highly customisable features, starting from changing the view from a stack, grid, or a list.
Ever had that moment when you want to see a photo clicked in landscape, but tilting the phone sideways doesn’t change its orientation? We’ve all been there — that’s mostly due to the rotation lock turned on, that prevents the interface to go into landscape mode. In QuickPic, head to Settings > View > Change Screen Orientation and choose By orientation sensor. Now, your pictures will switch sideways when you tilt the phone, irrespective of whether the lock rotation is on or off.
Another great QuickPic feature is in Settings > View and it’s called Maximum brightness when view. A lot of us tend to set the brightness not too high to conserve battery, but then end up manually cranking it up when viewing photos.
Turning this setting on means you don’t have to do that every time, and the full brightness will revert to the original setting when you’re done seeing fullscreen pictures. Awesome, right? There’s also an option to hide images or folders and protect it with a pattern lock.
Now before you go ahead and install QuickPic, it’s probably fair to inform you that the app is now acquired by Cheetah Mobile. QuickPic’s parent company is known for creating some questionable apps, and QuickPic is reportedly uploading user data to their servers. However, despite this security concern, we still think it’s one of the best gallery apps out there.
Download: QuickPic (Free)
Other Third-Party Gallery Apps
If QuickPic isn’t quite your cup of tea, try out one of these.
This app made it onto our list of the best Android apps of all times. The good news is that all those epic features from QuickPic (like screen orientation, or auto full brightness) are also available in Piktures. Apart from that, this app has a unique design with album cover photos that exhibit a parallax effect.
With Piktures, you can filter by photos, videos, GIFs, or even by location. There’s also this interesting calendar view, where it shows a month view with thumbnails and a count of how many photos were taken on a particular day. Piktures also has a QR code scanner built into the app — this should be useful if your default camera app doesn’t have it already.
But if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a neat OCR (Optical Character Recognition) feature that converts text within pictures into an editable format! Just click on any image, click the three-dot button in the top-right > Extract Text (OCR).
While all the features mentioned above are free to use, there is an in-app purchase that unlocks features like accessing cloud drives like Dropbox and OneDrive, and even physical drives via USB OTG.
Download: Piktures (Free, $6 Pro)
A+ Gallery has a spartan appearance but with one standout feature — similar to the Photos app on iOS, it offers a day, month, and year view of all your photos.
Also, you can check where your photos were taken on a map, and you can view photos from your Facebook, Dropbox, or Amazon Cloud Drive accounts. While the Facebook integration seemed like a cool idea, photos from my personal album didn’t quite load as expected.
The app is free to use, but it shows ads within the interface. To get rid of the ads, you can upgrade to the premium version for just a dollar. Along with disabling ads, you’ll get features like a recycle bin and themes.
Download: A+ Gallery (Free, $1 Premium)
F-Stop Gallery also has a similar Places feature that charts the geolocation data from your photos on a map. You can also view the precise co-ordinates of any photo on Google Maps.
There’s a plethora of sorting options in this app — other than sorting by name and date taken, you can also sort by size and even day, week, month, or year. Each image can be rated by a press-and-hold action while viewing it full screen.
While the app is free to install, a $5 upgrade to the Pro version unlocks features like writing metadata, custom sorting, themes, nested albums, etc.
Download: F-Stop Gallery (Free, $5 Pro)
If you’re looking for a Gallery app with a simpler appearance, Focus is as clean as it can get. It includes the ability to tag photos using a couple of preset tag as well as the ones you create (custom tags are a Pro version feature). This app also supports the smart picture rotation and brightness features we’ve talked about above.
Other than custom tags, the two dollar upgrade to the Pro version gets you a dark mode, custom collections, a vault to protect your media, wallpapers, etc. There’s also a mode to locking down the screen to a single image within an album, so others can’t swipe beyond to see more than what you want them to see.
Download: Focus (Free, $2 Pro)
And finally, there’s MyRoll Gallery. The most unique thing about this app is a feature called “Moments”. It puts pictures from each day in a folder, making it easier to gloss over snaps taken on a specific date.
There’s also a handy play button that slideshows photos from a particular “moment”. A Smart Mode creates a personalized album, highlighting the best photos on your phone. Basically, it identifies images it thinks should go together and groups them. MyRoll Gallery also supports Android Wear, allowing smartwatch wearers to view and even delete photos directly from the wrist.
The app shows ads in the free version, and upgrading to the Pro version removes them.
Download: MyRoll Gallery (Free, $3 Pro)
Which of These Do I Install?
Google Photos is a great application that preserves your precious memories seamlessly in a cost-effective way. But that doesn’t make it the holy grail for viewing your photos and videos. From the list, we warmed up to Piktures quite a bit, because it had almost everything we were interested in. But QuickPic is obviously the favorite of many.
Which photo gallery app do you prefer? Let us know any hidden gems you’ve discovered in the comments below.