Google has officially taken the wraps off its all-new Pixel 8 series. And just like last year, this year, too, we have two new devices: Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.

google photos features on pixel 8

Although the series’ unveiling itself wasn’t very exciting since pretty much everything about the two smartphones had leaked way in advance, Google still managed to turn some heads at the event by displaying some of its AI wizardry.

The prime of these is a set of AI-focussed features in the Google Photos app, available exclusively on the Pixel 8 and the Pixel 8 Pro. Google says these features build upon some of its existing features and incorporate technologies, like generative AI, to facilitate complex editing tasks, which aren’t easy to pull off otherwise without professional editing software and expertise.

Let’s check out all these Google Photos features you’ll get with the Pixel 8 series.

Best Take

We’ve all been there: got together a bunch of people to capture a group photo, only to realize minutes later that someone’s looking away or blinked just before the shot. Google has acknowledged this and introduced a new feature in Google Photos.

Aptly called Best Take, the feature eliminates the stress of capturing the perfect group shot. It works by analyzing a series of similar-looking photos taken close together. After which, it automatically creates a blended image with everyone’s best expressions. If you don’t like the final image, perhaps because you prefer another expression, Google gives you the option to manually select another look (from your previously captured images) to get the group photo with your desired expressions.

What’s good about the Best Take feature is that it doesn’t take away the realness from photos. Google isn’t using generative AI to generate a new expression and slapping it onto faces. Instead, it’s analyzing a bunch of photos and blending them to give you an image where everyone has their best expressions, so you don’t have people complaining about their peculiar expressions in the image.

Zoom Enhance – Pixel 8 Pro Only

Zoom Enhance is a Pixel 8-only feature, slated to come later sometime. Using it, you can zoom in on any photo after capturing it and crop it to bring to focus what matters to you the most in the picture without losing quality and details.

Unlike Best Take, Zoom Enhance uses generative AI. It need it to intelligently predict fine details in the image and fill in the gaps between pixels. In some sense, it’s kind of like image upscaling.

Video Boost – Pixel 8 Pro Only

Video Boost is another Google Photos feature limited only to the Pixel 8 Pro and will arrive at a later time. As you can guess by the name, the feature helps boost your videos to enhance them and make them more appealing to the eyes. Put simply, it’s HDR enhancement, which can come in handy in certain scenarios.

Google says you can use this feature on videos shot in low light, for instance, to make them look more sharper. The way it works is that, as soon as you toggle the feature on for a video, a copy of it is sent over to Google’s Cloud. Here, all the video processing, including reducing noise, enhancing clarity, and improving stabilization, is carried out. And once it’s done, the video is sent back to your device.

Audio Magic Eraser

Google isn’t serious just about photography and videography. On the all-new Pixel 8 series, it’s also paying long-due attention to audio quality, especially background noise, which has plagued videos for years to ensure there aren’t annoying noises distracting viewers from the actual audio in your videos.

Google is calling this feature Audio Magic Eraser. It’s based on the same principle as Magic Eraser (for photos), except it works with videos and helps you eliminate background noise from videos so the main audio can be head without any distractions.

Google is doing this using machine learning algorithms, which allow it to identify different sounds in a video, like music, wind, or people talking in the background. After that, it sorts them into different layers, which you can control manually with a few taps to eliminate noises you don’t want in the video.

Magic Editor

If the Google Photos features we discussed so far don’t excite you enough, the Magic Editor surely will. As the name implies, Magic Editor gives you magical editing capabilities. It uses generative AI to help you make complex edits and make your photos appear just how you want them to look.

Currently, Magic Editor offers only a few photo editing capabilities. For instance, you can use it to resize a subject in an image or reposition it in the photo to wherever you want. Google demoed the latter with an edit where they moved a person from the scene to a different position, and the editor magically filled the empty space with a matching background. Of course, the edits were made on an image from Google, and we’ll need to check this with different images to know its effectiveness and accuracy.

Similarly, they also mentioned that the Magic Editor can help you change a scene’s lighting. So, say you captured an image with overcast conditions (with a gray sky) but want it to have the look of a golden-hour sunset. With Magic Editor, it’s possible to make this edit, as you now get multiple scene suggestions when you tap on the sky, which you can simply select to apply to your photo.

Magic Editor is currently in its early stages. If you have a Pixel 8 device, you can try it under Labs. Beware, though, that you may not get the best result every time. Google says it plans on improving the editor over time and bringing in more AI features to give you new ways to reimagine your photos.

Related Read: 10 Best Google Pixel 8 Cases and Covers

AI Editing Seems to Be the Way Forward

google photos on pixel 8 series
IMAGE: Google

Google’s reliance on software isn’t anything new. We’ve already seen the company giving more importance to software—over camera hardware—on previous Pixel smartphones over the years. And it continues to be the case with this year’s devices, too.

On its latest Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, Google hasn’t upgraded the hardware much. Instead, it’s added a bunch of AI-based software smarts to these devices, like the ones we’ve talked about above, along with several others for image processing, to simplify the editing workflow on its devices.

Now, whether these AI enhancements and editing capabilities are actually needed or uncalled for is debatable. Something like Magic Eraser, a feature Google released last year, for instance, makes good sense as it helps people remove distractions from their images. On the contrary, with features like the ability to change a subject’s position in an image or change the scene itself, Google seems to be stretching image manipulation to a point where it’s beginning to take away the true essence from pictures and, going forward, may make it harder for people to trust photos they see on the internet.

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