This holiday season, bring out your inner photographer with the help of Google's Cinematic photos and Memories feature. In a company blog post, the product manager of Google Photos, Jamie Aspinall, wrote that Google is officially launching more realistic and "vivid" photo features for the users of Google Photos over the next month. It's part machine learning wizardry based on turning photos into 3D clips and part nostalgic memory trip.
Also, if you are a Google Photos user, now's the time to get shutter happy. Google recently announced that come June 2021 it'll no longer allow unlimited uploads of (albeit, somewhat compressed) photos. However, users can continue to upload as many images as they like until then.
How do Cinematic photos work? — Cinematic photos are Google's version of 3D photos. This kind of photography is nothing new — dozens of 3D photo apps already exist on both Apple's App Store and Google's own app marketplace, both free and paid. But in this instance it's coming straight from the company, it's baked into an app many people already use and, given Google's machine-learning smarts, the results look very slick.
Here's how Cinematic photos work, per Aspinall:
[W]e use machine learning to predict an image’s depth and produce a 3D representation of the scene — even if the original image doesn’t include depth information from the camera. Then we animate a virtual camera for a smooth panning effect — just like out of the movies.
In order for Cinematic photos to work, you need the latest Google Photos app. The app will automatically spice up your photos. You can also share your Cinematic creations with your social network through the app's video option, and if you're not satisfied with how things are looking, Google encourages you to send feedback.
How do Memories work? — Nostalgia gets the Google treatment, too. With the updated 'Memories' feature you can see what machine learning believes are keep moments you may want to relive.
The format of Memories is somewhat similar to Facebook's memories feature with an emphasis on artistic frames. Your photos could show up in a polaroid lining with the month and year stamped at the bottom, or it could appear in a faux-blackboard style. It varies based on the whims of Google's algorithms.
Of course, nostalgia can be a little upsetting. Google has an antidote for that, too. "Because not all Memories are worth revisiting," Aspinall wrote," you always have the control to hide specific people or time periods so they don’t show up in your Memories." So you can hide your ex and save your sanity.