The Google Play edition Sony Xperia Z Ultra is one of the mobile devices that shipped without the stock Gallery app.

When Google announced the latest Android 4.4 operating system, one of the most exciting new tools for photographers was the non-destructive photo editing tools in the Gallery app. Now, some devices are shipping without the familiar app, and tech experts are speculating that Gallery might begin to be phased out completely.

The folks over at Android Central reported on the issue yesterday, noting that the stock Android Sony Z Ultra and LG G Pad 8.3, also known as the “Google Play edition” and only available from the Google Play store, are shipping without the Gallery app. Instead, they feature the Google+ Photos app.

Tech reporters had been predicting the demise of the Gallery app since the Nexus 5 shipped with both apps in November. In our review of the Nexus 5, we said the Gallery app was "probably the best photo editor we’ve seen included on a phone ... It offers unparalleled flexibility and handles everything from one-touch fixes to precise curves adjustments." 

It's not that the Google+ Photos app doesn't have editing tools, they just aren't as extensive as Gallery's. Google+ recently gave photographers a new categorization system and auto-enhance feature, but it lacks the exposure, contrast and curves adjustments that made photographers excited about the Gallery app.

With any luck, Google will fold in the best features from the Gallery app into the Google+ Photos app in a future update. But until then, if you buy a stock Android Sony Z Ultra or LG G Pad 8.3, you might have to look at some third-party photo apps to find the editing tools that used to come standard in Gallery.