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Google Photos is getting a new ‘Magic Editor’ feature, powered by generative AI


Google Photos is expanding its use of AI to help users edit and enhance their photos. Although the company has already used AI for its tools such as the distraction-removing Magic Eraser and corrective Blur photo features in Photos, it now turns to AI for more complex edits with the introduction of Magic Editor. The new tool combines AI techniques, including generative AI, for editing and re-rendering photos, Google says.

The company previewed the new experimental feature at this week’s Google I/O developer conference to show off its capabilities.

Magic Editor allows users to edit specific areas of the photos, such as the foreground or background, and fill gaps in the photo or even move the subject for a better framed photo.

For example, Google showed how Magic Editor can be used to enhance a shot of a person standing in front of a waterfall.

In a demo of the technology, a user can first remove the other people from the background of the photo, then remove a bag strap from the subject’s shoulder for a cleaner look. While this kind of editing was previously available in Google Photos via Magic Eraser, the ability to move the subject is new. Here, the AI ​​”cuts out” the subject in the foreground of the photo, so that the user can then drag and drop the person elsewhere in the photo.

Image Credits: Google

This is similar to the image cropping feature that Apple introduced last year with iOS 16, which could also isolate the subject from the rest of the photo to do things like copy part of the image and paste it into another app, extract the subject from images found via Safari search, or place the subject of the photo in front of the clock on the iOS Lock Screen among others.

However, in Google Photos, the feature is meant to help users take better photos.

Another demo showed how Magic Editor’s ability to reposition a subject can also be combined with the ability to fill in gaps in an image using AI techniques.

In this example, a boy is sitting on a couch with a bunch of balloons attached, but the couch is shifted to the left side of the photo. Using Magic Editor, you can pull the boy and couch closer to the center of the photo, using generative AI to create more of the couch and balloons to fill the rest of the photo. As a finishing touch, you can brighten the sky behind the photo so it’s a brighter blue with white fluffy clouds, instead of the gray, overcast sky of the original.

1683738968 110 Google Photos is getting a new Magic Editor feature powered

Image Credits: Google

The sky fill feature is similar to what several other photo editing apps can do, such as Lensa or Lightricks’ Photoleap, to name a few. But in this case, it’s included with the main photo organizer app, rather than requiring an additional download of a third-party tool.

The result of the edits, at least in the demos, is that of natural-looking, well-composed images, not necessarily ones that look like they’ve been heavily edited or AI-created.

Google says it will release Magic Editor as an experimental feature later this year, warning that there will be times when it won’t work quite right. The testing and user feedback will help improve the feature over time, as users now edit 1.7 billion photos each month using Google Photos, the company said.

However, it’s unclear if Google will eventually charge for this feature, or perhaps make it a Pixel exclusive. It may turn Magic Editor into a Google One subscription benefit, as it did with Magic Eraser earlier this year.

The feature will initially be available to “select” Pixel devices, but Google declined to share which phones will receive it first.

The company said it also plans to share more about the AI ​​technology under the hood as the release of the early access feature gets closer, but won’t go into detail right now.

Learn more about Google I/O 2023 on TechCrunch

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