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This article was published on November 15, 2016

Google Photos gets legitimate image editing tools

Google Photos gets legitimate image editing tools
Napier Lopez
Story by

Napier Lopez


Napier Lopez is a writer based in New York City. He's interested in all things tech, science, and photography related, and likes to yo-yo in Napier Lopez is a writer based in New York City. He's interested in all things tech, science, and photography related, and likes to yo-yo in his free time. Follow him on Twitter.

Google Photos is getting a ton of new features today just in time for holiday photo sharing. Aside from the new PhotoScan app, there are several new features aimed at helping your photos look better and making themed movies easier to create than ever.

First up, Google Photos has a new suite of editing tools. Instead of just “Light,” “Color,” and “Pop” sliders, the app now has drop down menus for the first two categories, giving you granular control over highlights, shadows, whites, blacks and more.
Two particularly useful settings were “Deep Blue” and “Skin Tone,” which are essentially selective saturation settings. The first allows you to make skies and bodies of water more vibrant while leaving the rest of colors the same.
Meanwhile “Skin Tone” will be most useful when you want to increase the overall saturation of an image without making your skin look like a ripe tomato. Alternatively, it can help skin look more natural if the overall colors are a bit dull or white balance is off.
Google is also using Machine learning to make its filters smarter. The Auto setting is able to adjust exposure and white balance around a subject’s face, to make an image more vibrant without making your subjects look unnatural.
There are also a series of new filters – which Google calls “Looks” – that similarly use machine learning to adjust your image to look its best with that specific filter. Google says it studied different kinds of professional images – such as portrait, fashion, and street photography – for inspiration.
The new tools are a welcome improvement over Photos’ current very basic adjustments, but it’s worth noting they work with JPEG’s only for now, so don’t expect to just be able to import photos from your DSLR and make advanced edits. Google says it’s looking into RAW editing, but for now it recommends users turn to Snapseed if they need the extra power afforded by RAW images.
Finally Google is also getting smarter about making automated movies. While previously it could create films around specific trips and dates, now it can make images around specific themes.
For instance, a “Lullaby” theme creates a montage around photos of baby sleeping, appropriate soft music and all,while “Holiday Traditions” caters to images of the December holidays. There will be a pet-centric theme in April, and another one for Earth day later that month.
The updates are rolling out to iOS, Android and the Web today.
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