The web version of Google Photos just got a major upgrade that brings a slew of editing features like Color Pop, Portrait Blur and Sky suggestions. But it’s not perfect.
Google Photos has been a great photo cloud storage platform for some time, making it easy to share your snaps between devices, and on mobile it’s also a solid photo editor. It’s not on par with services like Photoshop, but you can pull off some great looking adjustments – we particularly like Color Pop which makes the image black and white except for objects you select, and Background Blur which artificially blurs the background of pictures.
While this update finally gives the web client these tools and others found on the version on your Google Pixel 7, there are unfortunately two catches to the new and improved Google Photos web version.
Firstly, you’ll need to be subscribed to Google One – Google’s paid subscription service – to be able to take advantage of these new features. The cheapest Google One tier is Basic; it costs $1.99 / £1.59 / AU$2.49 per month and gives you access to these Photos tools as well as 100GB of storage, the use of the Google One VPN and a handful of extra benefits.
The other catch is the new Google Photos web tools lack the best feature found on the Google Pixel version of the app: Magic Eraser. This AI-powered tool allows you to clean up your photos; the app removes the objects you’ve highlighted and then cleverly fills in the blank space with a background using context from the image. It’s not perfect, but nine times out of 10 you wouldn’t know the image was altered unless someone told you.
Opinion: Magic Eraser is like a photo cheat code
Magic Eraser isn’t a Google Photos editing tool you should always rely on. Our Cameras Editor Timothy Coleman recently argued that cleaning your messy photos with Magic Eraser is a bad thing. It removes authenticity from your snaps, and often options like Background Blur can create a much tidier looking image.
But there are plenty of times when a minor fix from Magic Eraser can help remove a distraction that blemishes a shot you love. When I took a holiday with my parents in December 2021, I snapped a picture of them next to a huge Christmas tree, but they’d left their brightly colored bags in the shot. Thanks to Magic Eraser I could clean up the offending items, and get a result we were much happier with.
Given my success with the tool, I’m disappointed to see it’s not coming to Google’s Photos web app yet. This is hardly a surprise though; Magic Eraser is one of the best features on Pixel phones and by making it available to any Google One subscriber, Pixel handsets would lose one of their unique appeals.
Hopefully this Pixel exclusivity won’t last forever. But even if it does, with a bevvy of AI image tools on the rise alongside the best AI art generators, you might find the best Google Photos alternatives can offer tools to rival Magic Eraser.
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Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.