During Google’s ‘Launch Night In’ event, they revealed two new Pixel phones and in the process, unveiled a refreshed suite of editing tools in Google Photos. Along with its much improved design comes a focus on machine learning and AI so that you can make more helpful edits to your photos.
The new design of the Google Photos editor has a much darker color palette that’s more in line with Google’s material design. Each tool’s icon is also housed in a circle for better accessibility. Google’s very own Snapseed editor, while it still has more functionality, is no longer more beautiful than the built-in Photos editor, which Google acquired from Picnik back in 2010. With Color Pop and other machine learning tricks being added to Google Photos, we could very well be looking at the beginning of the end for Snapseed.
The first technical improvement to the editor comes in the form of more granular control of tweaks. While the old slider was fine for adjusting color, sharpness, contrast and more, you now have notches along a bar which will allow you to see specific numbers for the strength of the tool you’re using. One-tap suggestions will also be more prevalent in the new editor.
This one took me off guard a bit. Starting with the Pixel 4a (5G) and the Pixel 5, Google will begin offering a really cool trick in Google Photos which will allow you drag your finger around a photo and artificially change the light source direction. The in-built machine learning algorithms allow for Google to perceive the intended depth of a photo based on its light, shadows and more, even though it’s just two-dimensional. The fact that it does all of this in real-time is the most insane thing I’ve seen in quite some time. Here’s where it gets even crazier – you can apply this same effect to any photos in your library, regardless of whether or not they were snapped with the new phones. This feature will be rolling out to older Pixel devices in the near future.
If you get an update for Google Photos soon, you’ll know why. The new editor is rolling out immediately, though Google uses a staged roll out method for such things so it may be up to a few days before everyone gets it.