With the update that starts rolling out today, you’ll see more videos — including the best snippets from your longer videos that Photos will automatically select and trim so you can relive the most meaningful moments. Even your still photos will feel more dynamic thanks to a subtle zoom that brings movement to your memories. And to bring it all together, next month we’ll start adding instrumental music to some Memories.
Happily, they’ve finally built a subset of the collage editor I spec’d out eight years ago (🧂🤷🏼).
Soon, you’ll begin to see full Cinematic Memories that transform multiple still photos into an end-to-end cinematic experience, taking you back to that moment in time. Cinematic Memories will also have music, making your photos feel a little more like a movie.
Google Photos’ portrait blur feature on Android will soon be able to blur backgrounds in a wider range of photos, including pictures of pets, food, and — my personal favorite — plants… Google Photos has previously been able to blur the background in photos of people. But with this update, Pixel owners and Google One subscribers will be able to use it on more subjects. Portrait blur can also be applied to existing photos as a post-processing effect.
I was really pleased to see Google showcase the new Magic Eraser feature in Pixel 6 marketing. Here’s a peek at how it works:
I had to chuckle & remember how, just after he’d been instrumental in shipping Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop in 2010, my teammate Iván Cavero Belaunde created a tablet version he dubbed “Trotsky,” in mock honor of the Soviet practice of “disappearing” people from photos. I still wish we’d gotten to ship it—especially with that name!
Update: Somehow Iván still has the icon after all these years:
Nearly 20 years ago, on one of my first customer visits as a Photoshop PM, I got to watch artists use PS + After Effects to extract people from photo backgrounds, then animate the results. The resulting film—The Kid Stays In The Picture—lent its name to the distinctive effect (see previous).
Now I’m delighted that Google Photos is rolling out similar output to its billion+ users, without requiring any effort or tools:
We use machine learning to predict an image’s depth and produce a 3D representation of the scene—even if the original image doesn’t include depth information from the camera. Then we animate a virtual camera for a smooth panning effect—just like out of the movies.
Photos is also rolling out new collages, like this:
And they’re introducing new themes in the stories-style Memories section up top as well:
Now you’ll see Memories surface photos of the most important people in your life… And starting soon, you’ll also see Memories about your favorite things—like sunsets—and activities—like baking or hiking—based on the photos you upload.
A couple of exciting new features have landed for Pixel users. My colleague Navin Sarma writes,
Sky palette transfer in Photos – Sky palette transfer allows users to quickly improve their images that contain sky, achieving a dramatic, creative, and professional effect. It localizes the most dramatic changes to color and contrast to the sky, and tapers the effect to the foreground. It’s especially powerful to improve images of sunsets or sunrises, or where there are complex clouds and contrasty light.
Dynamic/HDR in Photos – The “Dynamic” suggestion is geared towards landscape and “still life” photography, where images can benefit from enhanced brightness, contrast, and color. This effect uses local tone mapping, which allows more control of where brightness and contrast changes occur, making it especially useful in tricky lighting situations. You can use this effect on any photo by using the “Dynamic” suggestion, or navigating to Adjust and moving the “HDR” slider.
TL;DR: High quality storage will no longer be unlimited, but this won’t happen for a while; free storage remains a generous 15GB (more than enough for most people); and 100GB of storage costs two bucks a month.
Beginning June 1, any new photo or video uploaded in High quality in Google Photos will count toward your free 15 GB storage quota or any additional storage you’ve purchased as a Google One member. To make this transition easier, we’ll exempt all High quality photos and videos you back up before June 1. This includes all of the High quality photos and videos you currently store with Google Photos. Most people who back up in High quality should have years before they need to take action—in fact, we estimate that 80 percent of you should have at least three years before you reach 15 GB. You can learn more about this change in our Google Photos post.
I have been waiting, I kid you not, since the Bush Administration to have an easy way to adjust lighting on faces. I just didn’t expect it to appear on my telephone before it showed up in Photoshop, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Anyway, check out what you can now do on Pixel 4 & 5 devices:
This feature arrives, as PetaPixel notes, as one of several new Suggestions:
Nestled into a new ‘Suggestions’ tab that shows up first in the Photos editor, the options displayed there “[use] machine learning to give you suggestions that are tailored to the specific photo you’re editing.” For now, this only includes three options—Color Pop, Black & White, and Enhance—but more suggestions will be added “in the coming months” to deal specifically with portraits, landscapes, sunsets, and beyond.
Lastly, the photo editor overall has gotten its first major reorganization since we launched it in 2015:
With the latest version of the image.canon app (available on Android or iOS) and a compatible Canon camera, you can choose to automatically transfer original quality photos to Google Photos, eliminating the hassle of using your computer or phone to back them up.
In addition to a compatible Canon camera and the image.canon app, you’ll also need a Google One membership to use this feature. To help get started, Canon users will get one month of Google One free, providing access to up to 100 GB of cloud storage, as well as other member benefits, such as premium support from Google experts and family sharing.
As part of the new search tab, you’ll see an interactive map view of your photos and videos, which has been one of our most-requested features since we launched Google Photos. You can pinch and zoom around the globe to explore photos of your travels…
In addition, the “Stories”-style strip up top is getting upgrades:
We’re adding more types of Memories, like the best pics of you and your closest friends and family over the years, trips, and even just the highlights from last week… We’ve also moved our automatic creations–like movies, collages, animations, stylized photos and more–from the “For you” tab (which is now gone) and into Memories.
It’s always been easy to create a sharable link for your albums, but it wasn’t possible to prevent others from resharing that link. Now Photos offers more control:
Last December, we launched direct sharing to make it easy to share one-off photos and videos in Google Photos by adding them to an ongoing, private conversation in the app. Today, we’re bringing a similar experience to shared albums. Rolling out this week, when sharing an album, the default option will be to share with a specific person or people via their Google account. This gives you more control over who’s added to the album.
00:12 “Show me photos of me and Loretta” To use the Assistant to pull up photos, make sure you and your favorite people are tagged in your Google Photos. Then just say, “Hey Google, show me photos of me and [their name]”
00:21 “Remember, Loretta hated my mustache.” To try this one, just say, “Hey Google, remember…” and then whatever you’d like the Assistant to help you recall later. Like “Hey Google, remember Dad’s shoe size is 8 and half” or “remember Maria loves lilies.” Then, to see everything you’ve asked the Assistant to remember, just say, “Hey Google, what did I tell you to remember?”
00:39 “Show me photos from our anniversary” To see photos from a wedding, anniversary, birthday, or graduation, you’ll need a Google Photos account, and you’ll also need to tell your Assistant the specific date. Just say something like, “Hey Google, remember my anniversary is May 18th” or “remember Mark’s birthday is March 30th.” Then you can use that information in many ways, like “Hey Google, show me photos from our anniversary” or “Hey Google, remind me to buy flowers on Mark’s birthday.”
00:51 “Play our favorite movie.” First, tell your Google Assistant what your favorite movie is by saying, “Hey Google, our favorite movie is Casablanca.” Once you’ve purchased your favorite movie on Google Play Movies or YouTube, all you have to say is, “Hey Google, play our favorite movie” and the movie will start playing.
Now, you can turn a photo into a portrait on Pixel by blurring the background post-snap. So whether you took the photo years ago, or you forgot to turn on portrait mode, you can easily give each picture an artistic look with Portrait Blur in Google Photos.
I’m also pleased to see that the realtime portrait-blurring tech my team built has now come to Google Duo for use during video calls:
Now when you share one-off photos and videos, you’ll have the option to add them to an ongoing, private conversation in the app. This gives you one place to find the moments you’ve shared with your friends and family…
You can like photos or comment in the conversation, and you can easily save these photos or videos to your own gallery. This feature isn’t designed to replace the chat apps you already use, but we do hope it improves sharing memories with your friends and family in Google Photos. This is gradually rolling out over the next week.
Bonus smart-ass response o’ the day:
Sometimes Google goes two or three months without launching a new messaging app and I get worried. So this news comes as a great relief https://t.co/QFz5Q7iye3
Gallery Go is a new app from Google designed to let people with unreliable internet connections organize and edit their photos. Like Google’s regular Photos app it uses machine learning to organize your photos. You can also use it to auto-enhance your pictures and apply filters. The difference is that Gallery Go is designed to work offline, and takes up just 10MB of space on your phone.
Starting in July, new photos and videos from Drive won’t automatically show in Photos. Similarly, new photos and videos in Photos will not be added to the Photos folder in Drive. Photos and videos you delete in Drive will not be removed from Photos. Similarly, items you delete in Photos will not be removed from Drive. This change is designed to help prevent accidental deletion of items across products.
FWIW I bailed on this integration a long while back. Instead I now import images from my SLR & Insta360 to my Mac; edit/convert the selects to JPEG via Lightroom Classic & the Insta app; then drag the JPEGs into a photos.google.com in a browser window (so they’re grouped with my phone pics/vids); and finally back up the originals to an external HD. It’s not exactly elegant, but it’s simple enough and it works.
Here’s a nice little gift for my fellow shutter-happy parents (of human and/or furry children): You can now include up to 20,000 images (up from the previous limit of 10,000) in a live album (i.e. one that automatically includes pics/vids of selected people & pets.
This is a timely godsend for my family, as my brother & I just gave our folks a Google Home Hub for Christmas, set up to automatically show photos of our kids. Between our families we quickly swamped the 10k limit, so this headroom is very timely. Thanks, team!
Pretty much like it says on the tin. PetaPixel writes,
There isn’t a filter in the app that lets you selectively see only Portrait mode photos, but the new option in the Edit menu will be present for any Portrait shot.
Download the latest version of Google Photos for iOS to get started with this new feature. Depth editing is already available on the Pixel 3, Pixel 2, and Moto phones that have depth photo support. Google says it’ll also be adding more Android devices soon.
“Been waiting to build this since the beginning of Google Photos :)” tweeted Dave Lieb, product lead for Google Photos. As TechCrunch writes,
[U]sing A.I. technologies and facial recognition is a next step, and one that makes Google Photos an even more compelling app. In practice, it means that you wouldn’t have to manually share photos with certain people ever again – you can just set up a Live Album once, and then allow the automation to take over.
Oh, and with the newly announced Google Home Hub, people (e.g. my folks) can have an auto-updating picture frame showing specific people (e.g. our kids).
The Favorite (star) button will only appear on photos in your own library, allowing you to mark an individual item as a favorite which, in turn, will automatically populate a new photo album with just your favorite photos. […]
Meanwhile, the heart icon is Google Photos’ version of the “like.” This will appear only on those photos that have been shared with you from your family and friends.
Starting today, you may see a new photo creation that plays with pops of color. In these creations, we use AI to detect the subject of your photo and leave them in color–including their clothing and whatever they’re holding–while the background is set to black and white. You’ll see these AI-powered creations in the Assistant tab of Google Photos.
Thoughts? If you could “teach Google Photoshop,” what else would you have it create for you?
Now available on both iOS & Android, and offering a few neat tricks:
Lens works on photos of business cards, books, landmarks and buildings, paintings in a museum, plants or animals, and flyers and event billboards. When you use Lens on a photo that has phone numbers or an address, you can automatically save this information as a contact on your phone, while events will be added to your calendar.
You know how Google Assistant can say “Hey, [stateyourname], you should probably leave for the airport by 5 to make it in time for your 7 o’clock flight?” I want it to also say, “You know, it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday. Would you like this photo book to show up on your mom’s doorstep then together with some nice flowers?” Take my money, robot; make me into a better son!
Clearly such work involves a lot of moving parts & hard-to-define qualities (e.g. whether the memories evoked by an image are happy or sad may change greatly depending on things entirely outside the pixels). On the visual quality front, however, my teammates are making interesting progress. As Engadget writes,
If Google has its way, AI may serve as an art critic. It just detailed work on a Neural Image Assessment (NIMA) system that uses a deep convolutional neural network to rate photos based on what it believes you’d like, both technically and aesthetically. It trains on a set of images based on a histogram of ratings (such as from photo contests) that give a sense of the overall quality of a picture in different areas, not just a mean score or a simple high/low rating.
“Dogs and cats clustered together—mass hysteria!” Google Photos can now search by breed (e.g. Maine Coon, Labrador), and it clusters pets alongside people:
When you want to look back on old photos of Oliver as a puppy or Mr. Whiskers as a kitten, you no longer need to type “dog” or “cat” into search in Google Photos. Rolling out in most countries today, you’ll be able to see photos of the cats and dogs now grouped alongside people, and you can label them by name, search to quickly find photos of them, or even better, photos of you and them. This makes it even easier to create albums, movies, or even a photo book of your pet.
The app’s available on Android, too. Android Police writes, “It’s is essentially a GIF camera, but the app stabilizes the video while you’re recording. You can record for a few seconds, or use the fast-forward mode to speed up and stabilize longer videos.”
Not to be outdone, Google Photos on Web, iOS, and Android now displays Live Photos as well as Motion Photos from the new Pixel 2, giving you a choice of whether to display the still or moving portion of the capture. Here’s a quick sample on the Web. Note the Motion On/Off toggle up top.
I’m thrilled to have joined the team behind Motion Stills, so please let us know what you think & what else you’d like to see!
You made a grown ass man cry like a baby by automatically making a video titled “They grow up so fast”.. which has about 45 clips of videos with my daughter in it.. aged around 4-5 months to 22 months (current).
I have watched that 3 minute long video 3 times so far.. first time while I cried like a baby.. next two times with my jaw dropped due to the technology that made this possible.
I got one of these myself on Saturday, and now my mom & wife can’t stop watching our Henry Seamus grow from cooing blob to fun-sized weirdo. Cue gratuitous showing!
“Simpler, speedier and more reliable”—I can get behind that:
This new tool replaces the existing Google Photos desktop uploader and Drive for Mac/PC.
Backup and Sync is an app for Mac and PC that backs up files and photos safely in Google Drive and Google Photos, so they’re no longer trapped on your computer and other devices. Just choose the folders you want to back up, and we’ll take care of the rest.
Check out the help center if you need details—but generally it should be set it, forget it, get (optionally) free unlimited photo storage.
Bad old world: Even though I’m standing next to my wife while she snaps pics of our kids, it’s only if Facebook buzzes my phone that I see what she took & shared. The rest remain a mystery.
Good new world: Every photo I take of the kids can be automatically shared with her, and vice versa.
With shared libraries, sending and receiving photos with one person is effortless—you can automatically share your full photo library or customize just what you want to share. Suggested sharing uses machine learning to automatically identify photos and suggest recipients, making sharing as simple as a single tap.
I’ve been waiting for this for years. Setup is super simple: pick your partner, select people to share (or whole library), send invite; goodness ensues. You can check out the details here, and you can use the feature now on iOS, Android, and Web. Enjoy!
Auto-hide (but don’t delete) pictures of receipts, whiteboards, etc.? Cool:
To help you quickly find and organize those photos you want to save but don’t necessarily want to often see among your memorable moments, beginning today you may see a suggestion in the Assistant tab with pre-selected photos to help you quickly archive these photos. You can review the suggestions and remove any photos you don’t want archived, and tap to confirm when you’re done.
You can also archive individual images anytime. Select the photos you want to remove from the main gallery without deleting them from your library, just tap the three dots, and choose “Archive.”
You can find archived photos anytime under “Archive” in the left hand nav, view them in albums and find them via search.
This feature is rolling out today for both Android and iOS users as well as the desktop version of Google Photos. Check it out!
Doesn’t yet auto-suggest hiding pictures of exes. 😉
Starting today, people can go to photos.google.com/mothersday, pick a mom and kids, and then Google Photos does the rest. It automatically chooses the best photos of the mother and children, and sets it all to music to make a personalized movie. If you want to remove any of the photos or add others, you can make adjustments on Android or iOS.
Here’s the one I made for my mom featuring her grandsons:
It’s not glamorous, but optimizing apps for low-bandwidth environments is critical to democratizing access to their benefits. Having traveled in Nepal, I can tell you that all the cool creations in the world don’t matter if you can’t even back up & share your photos.
Now your photos will back up automatically in a lightweight preview quality that’s fast on 2G connections and still looks great on a smartphone. And when a good Wi-Fi connection becomes available, your backed up photos will be replaced with high-quality versions. We’re also making it easier to share many photos at once even on low connectivity. Never mind if you’re at the beach or hiking in the mountains, with Google Photos you can now share pictures quickly even with a spotty connection by sending first in low resolution so friends and family can view them right away. They’ll later update in higher resolution when connectivity permits.
Photographer and educator Seán Duggan shares a collection of power tips that can help you get the most out of Google Photos. Learn how to manage photo storage, use the stellar search capabilities of Google Photos, edit your photos, and make animations, slide shows, and movies from your images. Plus, learn how to share photos securely with friends and family.
Photograph Seán Duggan has posted a great 5-minute overview on Lynda.com showing how to use Google PhotoScan to digitize your old snaps. It’s free for everyone through next Monday, then available only to Lynda subscribers.
With its new Photo Scan (Android, iOS) app, Google basically donned a leather motorcycle jacket, strutted into a party full of regular photo-scanning apps, knocked everyone’s drinks out of their hands, kissed the prettiest one straight on the mouth, and told the DJ to take a hike.
They go on to say,
If you’ve got old photos to digitize, this should be your first stop. The app is fast, accurate, and best of all, free. And it’s a complete no-brainer if you already store your snaps on Google Photos, as it’ll zing all your scans there automatically.
So, now that you’ve downloaded PhotoScan & digitized a bunch of images, how can you give them proper dates? Here’s how:
On photos.google.com, just select the group of photos you’d like to adjust and click “Edit date & time” in the menu dropdown. You’ll be able to shift or set the time stamps, and preview the changes before saving.
Here’s a quick video demo (showing how to edit one image, but applicable to multiple simultaneously):
The first batch of movie concepts (“the kinds of movies you might make yourself, if you just had the time”) that Photos introduced in September have been really well received, and now the team is rolling out more:
More automatic movies, made for you: baby’s first months, holiday traditions, highlights from the year, and more.
As before, just live your life, back up your pics, and keep an eye out for movies arriving via the Assistant in Photos.