Google sent out an “update to Album Archive” email today telling users that an old picture gallery interface for Hangouts is going away next month. Google says, “Some content that can only be found in Album Archive will be taken down on July 19.” This includes:
In rare cases, like small thumbnail pictures, comments, or likes on albums,
Some Google Hangouts data from images posted to the Gmail theme picker’s Album Archive before 2018
When you go to get.google.com/albumarchive, you’ll see an old picture interface where “Photos from Hangouts” is the most important album. Google says that these are your “Photos and videos shared on Hangouts.”
It is set up by conversation, including SMS threads, and the most recent record in my case is from 2016. Some of these galleries have hundreds of pictures that I also saw in Google Chat during a random conversation.
“Album Archive will no longer be available” on July 19, 2023, and Google suggests that users make a copy of the data before then using Takeout. It won’t hurt to do what Google suggests and get a copy of these images, but as far as I can tell, these images should be available in Google Chat and will stay so even after next month. If nothing else, it’s a good way to remember when you used Google a lot for marketing messaging.
This email is pretty hard to understand, and the support document that goes with it is posted on a “Picasa and Picasa Web Albums” help page. It looks like a leftover from that product and Google+. That said, this gallery view is pretty cool because it lets you see all the pictures you’ve ever sent in a chat.