Google Photos will see several new features later this year — but some could be a bit creepier than others.
Arriving this summer, Cinematic Moments is a Google Photos tool that yields similar results to Apple's Live Photos. The difference is that Cinematic Moments uses artificial intelligence (AI) to fill in the gaps of a few photos, rather than record short video, to produce in-motion media.
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With a handful of still images, Cinematic Moments can create a complete and animated action shot. It uses neural networks to synthesize the moment, materializing frames from thin air, practically.
This AI implementation reminds me of that feature some TV makers use for advanced motion smoothing. But rather than applying to content produced for the greater public, Google's approach is used for your personal collection of memories.
So while it's not creepy for AI to whip up frames in your favorite movie action scenes, it's a little spine-chilling to know the technology can edit intimate moments of your own into complete animations.
Although it's a new native feature for Google Photos, the essence isn't new. DeepFake programs like Wombo and Deep Nostalgia already create animations in the same, sentimental vein.
Google says Cinematic Moments is ideal for moments where you can't get a consistent image, like getting multiple kids to smile and look at the camera at the same time. Personally, I find those photographic mishaps part of the memories, but if you're in a need of a digital holiday card Cinematic Moments could come in handy.
Other Google Photos updates coming soon
In addition to Cinematic Moments, during Google I/O 2021 Google announced new editorial and control features for its photos program.
Little Patterns is a tool that pulls photos with similar markers together. It automatically surfaces a collection of images aiming to tell a story based on one unifying color, object or location.
For example, the subject of a Little Pattern could be a specific backpack you bring on your travels. Google Photos will recognize the backpack in your photos over a period of time, and pull them together to highlight the pattern. The result should be an intelligent album you might not have thought to curate yourself.
And if any of these albums surface an image you'd rather not see, Google Photo's new control features will let you hide it. In fact, you can hide images from certain time periods or even including certain people. That way these memories still buried in your albums if you want them, but they won't pop up spontaneously.