This new Google Photos feature turns your snaps into 3D cinematic images

Google Photos
(Image credit: Google)

Google Photos is getting into the Christmas spirit with a new family-friendly feature that will soon automatically turn your snaps into moving, cinematic photos.

The new addition to the service's Memories feature, which serves up both recent and old highlights from your photos collection, will start to appear in the app "over the next month", according to Google.

The Cinematic photos feature will work on all images, even those that don't have the depth information gathered by portrait modes. Instead, Google says that its machine learning (what else) will predict an image's depth and produce a 3D representation of the scene.

The result (below) is an effect that looks like a cross between a pop-up book and the dolly zoom effect, although it's slightly less dramatic and terrifying than famous example of the latter in Jaws. Instead, Cinematic photos provide a smooth zooming effect that's certainly eye-catching and could work nicely for some well-framed people shots.

The rise of AI photo editing

The incoming Cinematic photos feature follows the recent addition of new collage designs in Google Photos, which automatically creates layouts of your favorite snaps by detecting common colors in the images and working them into the background color and fonts.

While this boom in AI photo features and editing is certainly handy for getting periodic reminders about fun memories or anniversaries, but it doesn't come without its downsides. For example, AI photo services are still prone to sending you insensitive 'on this day' photos of things you'd rather not be reminded of.

That's why Google Photos also includes the option to hide specific people or time periods, so you don't get sent unwanted memories. To do this in the Photos app on Android or iOS, tap your account profile in the top right, then go to Photo settings > Memories > Hide dates, or Hide people & pets.

Google's new AI features in Google Photos are also part of a wider trend of automated photo editing that's spreading to pro photo editors, too. The much-anticipated Luminar AI, which includes features like the ability to choose a different sky for your photos, has just become available to buy today. And Adobe recently unveiled almost scarily powerful new Photoshop tools, including neural filters that let you change a subject's facial expression.

Whether you're a Google Photos fan or pro photo editor, this is likely to be just a taster of the AI-powered possibilities to come in 2021.

Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at both TechRadar and Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.