Just a few days ago, Google announced the addition of a few new features available for Google Photos for Google One subscribers. The highlight was clearly Magic Eraser, but in that same announcement, Google also added the ability to adjust HDR on videos you have stored in your Google Photos library, regardless of whether you have a Pixel phone or not.
The update is still technically rolling out to users, so whether or not you see this feature right now is going to be hit or miss for at least a few more days. But once it arrives, you’ll now have the ability to add some helpful HDR to your existing videos, bringing up crushed shadows and calming down highlights not only in still photos, but across your videos, too. And you can do it all right on your Chromebook!
The effect takes a few minutes to show up for recently added videos, so give it a few seconds if you just recorded and uploaded. After that short wait (presumably giving Google’s servers a few minutes to process and crunch your video a bit) you’ll now have the option for adding some HDR to your video right in the edit section. Once you click the edit button, the second tab that contains all the other color adjustments should now show an HDR slider with a little Google One logo attached.
Sliding this adjustment will tax the system a bit on your Chromebook, and I’ve found it works quite a bit better on Android phones for sure. However, even though the playback can get wonky with the adjustment made on your Chromebook, once you save the video, the effect still applies and you can see a marked difference on the end result. Again, this process is a lot smoother on my Galaxy S23 Ultra, but I love that I can also get the same final product with my Chromebook, too.
You can see the difference in the two videos above and though there’s a bit of artifacting present in the modified video, the shadows and dark spots are brought up quite a bit without the video being blown out. That is the magic of HDR and if I weren’t making this to show off the feature, I would definitely have dialed it back a bit to limit the noise in the final video. Either way, it works in a pinch if you just need your video to be a bit brighter without completely losing your highlights along the way.
Clearly, Google needs to iron out a few kinks with the playback and speed of use on a Chromebook, but I’m encouraged to see some feature parity between Android phones and Chromebooks with these new tools. Google Photos is supposed to be bringing us a dedicated video editor for ChromeOS as well, so I’m happy to see some of these other features making it to the Chromebook experience before that rollout happens.
It gives me hope that one day in the future, Google Photos (the Android app version) will be a go-to app for Chromebook users across the board. It is clearly one of Google’s best products ever, so it would make a lot of sense to make sure it runs like butter on a Chromebook. We’re not there yet, but these latest, small additions are steps in the right direction for sure.