Google Photos is making a significant change to how it manages RAW photos and backup on Android, as we noticed at the beginning of this year. The format has been substantially improved as of late, although there may be some drawbacks.
This morning, Google Photos presented the following banner on a Pixel 8 that had previously taken RAW photos in the Camera app: “New RAW shots will appear in the Photos view and will now be backed up.”
Taking a RAW photograph now automatically uploads it to Google Photos backup and displays it in the main “Photos” tab/grid. It’s labeled “RAW” in the top-right corner, and opening it shows a switcher at the bottom that allows you to view the JPEG as well. When viewed as a “Burst,” JPEG allows you to “Export this photo” or “Keep this photo only,” whereas RAW allows you to “Set as main photo” and “Keep this photo only.”
RAW files are quite huge, and Google automatically uploading to the cloud might rapidly exceed mobile data restrictions. (However, Google is no longer uploading earlier on-device RAWs.) There is no obvious way to prevent RAW uploads using existing backup settings.
It may potentially have an influence on Google One storage restrictions. Personally, I’ve always transferred RAW photographs I’ve taken via USB because I don’t have a backup for that folder.
Meanwhile, that “Raw” folder (on Pixel) found in the Library tab > Photos on device carousel is no longer in use. New RAW images are not shown there. At a glance, there’s no obvious way to view just RAW captures in Google Photos.
Meanwhile, this comes as Google Photos recently added the ability to set a default RAW editor. Photos settings > Apps & devices > Raw editor shows apps like Photos (which will convert to JPEG before editing), (Pixel) Markup, Gallery (Go), and Snapseed.
We’ve reached out to Google to explain this RAW backup change in Photos on Android.