The integration of tactile feedback into smartphone apps and system behaviors is not a new venture. Yet, as Android continually seeks to refine and enhance the user experience, haptics are garnering more attention. One prominent app aiming to improve vibration feedback is Google Photos, as evidenced by a recently introduced haptic element that is intriguing users.
Some Google Photos users have reported a distinctive vibration when zooming in and out of photos, specifically upon reaching the maximum zoom limit. This feature is noticeable in version 18.104.22.1683312880 of the app, giving a light buzz when you’ve zoomed in as far as the app allows, and another when you’ve zoomed all the way out.
The integration of such tactile feedback, it seems, is Google’s latest attempt to enhance user engagement and provide a more immersive experience. There’s no setting to control the haptics, nor is there one to turn them off. We saw this behavior on most of the accounts we tested with, but not all, so it’s likely that the change is a server-side one in a phased rollout.
Looking back, just two years ago, Google Photos underwent another haptic transformation. A new feature was added to provide a tactile sensation when scrolling through the timeline — specifically, users felt “clicks” for each month as they navigated through their entire photo library. This change was well-received, as it made the search process for specific photos more intuitive and enjoyable.
Haptic feedback, while a subtle addition, can provide a sense of dynamism and physicality to what’s primarily a digital experience. Notably, this approach of introducing tactile sensations wherever possible mirrors that of Apple’s ecosystem, which has embraced strong haptic feedback for a while.
The latest vibration feedback when zooming in Google Photos is just a piece of the larger puzzle. As our digital and physical worlds continue to merge, the line between the tactile and the virtual becomes increasingly blurred, and proper haptics go a long way towards preserving that illusion.