Google combines camera and cloud into a new darkroom
As part of the overhaul of its Hangout feature, Google has launched new photography functionality designed to take the labor out of on-the-spot shooting and editing in the cloud. The new features will roll out this evening.
The fresh features enhance photos with three major points: Highlighting the best and most important photos, enhancing your shots, and applying special effects. Altogether, this spells backup, highlight, enhance, and "awesome" in the cloud.
Google+ has gotten a lot of traction with photographers, and photo sharing is increasingly the heart of the social web, so it's not surprising that Google is concentrating on this. The service now supports full image resultion for large digital camera images. Cloud backup for standard-sized photos up to 2048-by-2048 is infinite, while the backup available full-sized pictures at larger resolutions has tripled, from 5GB to 15GB because, "Some memories are not meant to be downsized." (That 15GB of cloud storage space is shared with your Gmail messages and general Drive storage, however.)
The Highlight feature takes the hundreds of images you shot on vacation and curates them, showcasing only the best of the lot. Its algorithm chooses the best images by eliminating blur, poor exposure, duplicates, and recognizing famous landmarks and smiling people. It also recognizes family and other important people in your life.
Auto Enhance, which appears similar to one-tap functionality in other programs, works on tonal distribution, skin softening, noise reduction, structure, white balance, vignette, sharpening, red eye removal, and more. All you need to do is point the camera and tap the button. While it is automatic, you can turn the feature off or use it selectively. Auto Enhance works differently on people than on landscapes because it deeply recognizes the human face, according to Google. It can separate out eyes, teeth, glasses, and so forth, so that it does not product a grotesque looking exaggeration of facial features.
Auto Awesome, says Google, takes a collection of images, and from them creates a new one that did not exist before. For example, it can take a stack of photos shot in burst mode and create an animation. It offers motion, but also pano, smile, HDR, and mix. If you have multiple portraits, they can be combined into a collage. If multiple pictures of same people in burst mode, they'll find where people are smiling and construct a new image from it.