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Google is introducing a new feature called “default gallery access” that allows selected smartphones to have two-way access to Google Photos libraries directly from their default gallery apps. This feature is currently available only to devices from OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, and Xiaomi, excluding iPhone and Samsung Galaxy users. With default gallery access enabled, users can conveniently access, browse, download, edit, and share content stored in Google Photos without switching to the Google Photos app, as long as Google Photos is installed on their device.

Enabling default gallery access on a compatible smartphone, such as the Xiaomi 14, will cause the gallery app to sync images with Google Photos in the background. This process may take some time for larger photo libraries, but users can continue to use the gallery app while the syncing takes place. Once connected, photos and videos stored in Google Photos can be edited directly in the gallery app, with separate albums for favorites, videos, screenshots, and images shot locally with the camera. However, existing albums created in the Google Photos library will not be displayed in the gallery app.

Google notes that default gallery access will work on devices running at least Android 11, with the option to switch backup providers between Google Photos and Microsoft OneDrive on some devices. However, there are important caveats to consider when using this feature. Users must keep their device configured to back up photos to Google Photos for the sync to work, and turning off Google Photo backup will disable default gallery access and disconnect all synced images. Additionally, the synchronization process may not always be seamless, with issues such as edits made on different devices or through the Google Photos website not syncing correctly with connected gallery apps.

Due to these limitations and potential syncing issues, it is recommended that users stick to the Google Photos app for now until these issues are resolved. Despite the convenience of accessing Google Photos content directly from the default gallery app, users may encounter difficulties with album support, synchronization, and backup settings. Google is expected to address these issues in future updates to improve the functionality and reliability of default gallery access for compatible smartphones. For now, users of OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, and Xiaomi devices can enjoy the benefits of accessing and sharing their Google Photos content seamlessly from their default gallery apps.

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