Google Photos Is Adding New Editing Tools, but You’ll Have to Pay

Google Photos Is Adding New Editing Tools, but You’ll Have to Pay
Photo: Sam Rutherford
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For people who have been debating about whether to pay Google for extra cloud storage or not, today Google just sweetened the deal by giving new photo-editing tools to Google One subscribers.

In a blog post, Google outlined the new effects that will be added to Google Photos for people with Google One subscriptions, which include porting over features previously only available on Pixel phones. The new effects even include support for pics snapped by older phones that don’t have the same set of depth sensors available on more recent devices, and any existing photos you’ve already taken.

Gif: Google Gif: Google

The new editing features include both Portrait Blur and Portrait Lighting to help improve pics you’ve snapped of friends and family, along with Blur and Colour Pop effects to help highlight a certain subject or emphasise specific shades and hues. And as usual, you can apply these effects yourself, or let Google Photos come up with its own edits via automatic suggestions.

There’s even support for more advanced editing effects, which Google is calling dynamic suggestions, that use machine learning to adjust a variety of settings including brightness, contrast, and colour saturation, all with a single tap. For landscape photographers, Google even made a special sky suggestions filter (example above) that can add some extra drama to your shot by tweaking multiple settings and overlaying a handful of colour palettes “inspired by breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.”

The Portrait Lighting and Portrait Blur effects should work even on older pics you've already taken.  (Gif: Google) The Portrait Lighting and Portrait Blur effects should work even on older pics you've already taken. (Gif: Google)

On top of the new effects, Google is also adding a new video editor to Google Photos for all users (even non-paying ones) with more than 30 different settings and controls, including trimming, stabilizing, adding filters, changing perspectives, and more.

However, while it’s tough to be upset about getting new features for free, it’s important to mention the new upgrades to Google Photos for people with Google One subscriptions comes just a few months before Google turns off unlimited storage in Google Photos. Starting in June, anyone with more than 15GB of photos will need to either find somewhere else to store their pics, or pay $US2 ($3) a month for 100GB of cloud storage with Google One.

On one hand, it was always clear that free unlimited storage in Google Photos was a deal too good to last forever, but at the same time, the switch forces people to make a hard decision about what to do with all the digital media they’ve captured over the years.

Here's a preview of the new video editor in action.  (Gif: Google) Here's a preview of the new video editor in action. (Gif: Google)

When it comes to cloud storage, the free 15GB of storage you get from Google Photos is already three times as much space as you get from Apple iCloud or Microsoft OneDrive, which only offer 5GB of free storage. So if you’re already capped out on storage in Google Photos, switching to one of the other big cloud storage providers probably won’t save you any money.

And if you do decide to opt for extra cloud storage, currently Google One and Microsoft OneDrive charge about $3 a month for an extra 100GB of space (or $4 a month for 200GB with Google One), while Apple charges $2 a month for 50GB or $4 a month for 200GB. It’s a bummer that Google Photos is no longer completely free, but Google One is still a pretty good deal compared to the competition.

Google One subscribers on Android will see the new photo-editing features “over the next few days,” and the new video-editing features (which are already available on iOS) will be available on Android sometime in the “coming weeks.”