Do the Pixel 8’s Magic Editor and Best Take make you uncomfortable? | Phones

Google Photos Magic Editor Cover.jpg

“Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?”

That question from Westworld, which had a phenomenal first season and then… went to Cold Storage, has been on my mind since seeing the Pixel’s editing capabilities in Google Photos. However, my hesitation dates back to the Camouflage feature announced at I/O 2022.

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Magic Eraser removes objects, while Camouflage changes their color to make them less distracting. The example Google used on stage was a brightly colored cooler that stood out in a beach picture. Instead of being neon green, it took on the beige color of sand so that the focus shifted to the subject.

I am more comfortable with straight object removal than changing the fundamental appearance of a thing. The former feels much more likely on any picture I encounter in the world given my modern expectations for imagery in a post-Photoshop era.

Back in May, Google announced Magic Editor as the latest editing feature. I described it as generative AI making possible drag-and-drop Photoshop. Launching on the Pixel 8, you can:

  • “reposition the subject of your shot to the best spot”
  • “relocate and change the scale of your subject”
  • “remove the bag strap you forgot to take off”
  • “make the sky brighter and less cloudy, so it matches how you remember that day”

This is more than making a fix/edit in my mind because it changes the objective truth of the moment the photo was taken. To me, it feels dangerously close – and I hope this doesn’t come off as being alarmist – to altering memories and the nature…

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