- The Magic Eraser tool for removing unwanted people and objects and photographs has been one of the most talked about features of the Pixel 6 series from Google. It removes objects easily and without the need for any third-party app.
- A number of other brands have started including similar features on their devices, most notably Samsung, which has been updating its high-end range with what it calls the Object Eraser tool.
- Interestingly, Xiaomi has had object removal on many of its devices for almost five years now. While it has not been covered too extensively, it remains a very effective and handy tool, and what’s more, it is available on affordable devices!
It seems that during a recent media event, a mediaperson was showing a Xiaomi executive the Pixel 6a’s much-hyped Magic Eraser feature, which let you remove unwanted objects and photo bombers from your images. The Xiaomi executive, however, was not too impressed and muttered, “MIUI has had it for a while, almost five years,” and proceeded to show something similar on their own device. The amazing thing was that the device was actually a Redmi Note 11 Pro+, which is less than half the price of a Pixel 6a. What’s more, in many scenarios it actually worked almost as well as the Pixel’s feature.
Google made object removal hype-worthy in 2021
We have been trying out the feature on our Redmi Note 11 Pro+, and well, we are genuinely surprised at why Xiaomi has not spoken more of this feature in recent times. There have been ways of removing objects from images for a while, but these generally involved third-party apps that were either too sloppy or too difficult to use. With the launch of the Pixel 6 series in 2021, Google made removing objects as easy as tapping on or highlighting them and delivered very good results, thanks to its computational photography muscle and the Tensor processor.
The hype around Magic Eraser has seen other brands get on to the “object removal” bandwagon, too, with Samsung being very vocal about how the feature was coming to a number of devices via updates. However, what is notable is that Samsung’s object removal tool (Object Eraser) also seems mainly restricted to its flagship series – the S22 series, the Flip and Fold series, and the S10 series (which received it through an update in February). Xiaomi, however, seems to have had something that is comparable and is available on much lower-priced devices. And is just as simple to use.
Xiaomi has had the Object Removal feature on MIUI since 2017!
Xiaomi is believed to have brought in the object removal tool, which it calls “Erase,” in MIUI 9 as far back as 2017. However, it is notable that this was also around the time when the brand got a lot of criticism because of the number of ads in its interface. And it has been on the backfoot as regards MIUI ever since. As a result, many features in the interface have seemingly flown under many tech radars. One of them is object removal from photographs.
The feature was covered when it was initially released, but its subsequent improvement has not really gotten so much attention. Well, we tried out the feature on this year’s Redmi Note 11 Pro+ and the Redmi Note 10S of 2021, and the results were frankly impressive.
Erase on MIUI: Easy enough to use
Using the Erase feature is extremely easy. Just follow these steps (we have used the Redmi Note 11 Pro+ for this purpose)
- Step 1: Open the Gallery app, and select the photograph you wish to remove an object from. We picked a picture with a wall clock and a pile of books against a background of green wallpaper. Our objective: to remove the clock!
- Step 2: With the picture open, hit the edit button. It is in the shape of a pen on paper and is generally second from the left.
- Step 3: Choose Erase, which appears on the extreme right on the main edit screen or is generally fifth from left.
- Step 4: You will now see the Erase screen where you have to choose whether you want to erase an Object or just Lines. We went with Object. There is a slider above these two options that also lets you determine the extent to which you want the object or line removed – move it all the way to the right for total obliteration. It is set by default in the middle. We would advocate letting it stay there and then figuring out what you need. You can always undo or redo changes using the arrows on top of the screen.
- Step 5: Just run your finger over the object you wish to erase. In this picture, we chose the wall clock. You will see a yellow ‘mask’ appear over the object as you move your finger over it.
- Step 6: Lift your finger from the object you have highlighted. And voila, it is gone! You might need to do a little “cleaning up” to remove any traces, but by and large, this works rather smoothly. Save your file, and you have your de-objectified image.
Giving Google and Samsung a good run for their money
As you can see, the result is quite impressive. Just for the sake of checking, we tried the same exercise with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and, of course, the OG itself, the Pixel 6a. The results were as follows:
Now, there is no assurance that this will be the case every time, but as you can see, the Redmi Note 11 Pro+ in this specific case actually seems to have done very well indeed. We tried again, this time removing a person from a twilight snap, and this time the S22 Ultra and the Pixel 6a seemed to do better than the Xiaomi device. Of course, what needs to be remembered is that neither the S22 Ultra nor any of the Xiaomi devices can actually try to guess what needs to be removed as the Pixel 6a can.
Making object removal in photographs affordable since 2017…but not talking about it
The point to note, however, is that Xiaomi has this feature in devices that are far more affordable than flagships and even budget flagships. It is easy to use, works swiftly, and does not seem to depend too heavily on the processor.
We really think that Xiaomi needs to talk more about it. If you have a Xiaomi, Redmi, or Poco device, go ahead and try the feature out. You will be surprised.