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Google Photos just got killer Pixel features — what you need to know

Pixel 4a 5G
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

There are lots of advantages to owning a Pixel phone, but the biggest draw has to be the exclusive features Google has to offer.

If you buy a different brand of phone, those are obviously off-limits. Or they were because Google’s mixing things up. Pixel-exclusive photo editing tools are coming to other devices, but only if you have a Google One subscription. 

Google One, for those that don’t know, is Google’s premium subscription. It offers up to 2TB of Google Drive cloud storage, full backups of your phone, full-resolution photo backups on Google Photos, access to expert customer service, and exclusive discounts in a number of places — including the Google Store.

Now Google is adding more editing capabilities to Google Photos, and users with a Google One subscription will be able to access them on non-Pixel devices for the very first time.

Naturally, Google isn’t rolling out all its exclusive editing features to Google One. Instead, subscribers can expect to find editing tools that capitalize on Google’s machine learning, including Portrait Blur and Portrait Light. 

Those two features let you blur and improve the lighting on faces after the picture has been taken. It doesn’t matter if the original image was taken in portrait mode or not.

Also available will be two “super filters” that can apply more complex edits to your photos in one fell swoop. The Dynamic filter enhances brightness and contrast, while the sky filter is designed to improve your “golden hour” shots by boosting the color and contrast in the sky. That way your sunrise and sunset pictures could get even better.

Blur and Color Pop will also be available for all Google Photos users, provided the image they’re editing includes depth information (like portrait mode shots). Google One subscribers, however, will be able to apply them to pictures of people regardless of whether there's depth information or not.

Of course, there’s more coming to Google Photos, regardless of the users’ Google One subscription status. There’s a new video editing tool on the way, with over 30 different controls to help you improve your footage. They include options to apply filters, crop, change perspectives, boost contrast and brightness, and more.

The new video editor is already available in Google Photos for iOS, and will be rolling out to Android users in the coming weeks. The formerly Pixel-exclusive image editing features will be rolling out to Google One subscribers on Android over the coming days. 

If you’re not already a Google One subscriber, you’ll miss out on the latter features unless you sign up. Subscription costs range from $2 to $10 a month, depending on how much storage you get.

Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.