Google Shows Off 'Auto Awesome', Image Enhancements

One of the many new "small" features that Google showed off at I/O is online photo enhancement. Google's Vic Gundotra promised that "your darkroom is now a Google data center"… as long as you allow Google+ to handle your photos.

One rather startling feature that Gundotra introduced was Google's ability to select the best photos for you, called Auto Highlight. He gave the example that after he's back from a vacation filled with photos, he doesn't have that free time to sort and go through to find the best ones. Google now supposedly has an algorithm that's able to select the best photos for you based on tons of data points, such as facial recognition and smile detection. It can also pick out landmarks, so if you have a photo standing by the Eiffel Tower, then Google will know to pick that one as a top photo. Is this a bit like Gmail scanning your emails for keywords to know which ads to present to you? Yeah, sounds like it. Privacy types will have an issue with this for sure, but they really shouldn’t be uploading their photos onto Google's social networking site anyway.

Another new feature announced today is very simple and basic photo enhancements, called Auto Enhance. They're extremely simple settings that help make photos 'pop' a little more. Some of it appears to be tweaking brightness, contrast and saturation, but likely to a smarter degree than just "auto levels" due to Google's image recognition software. Photo purists will likely feel that this will affect photography like what Instagram has done, but it's not nearly as dramatic. Nevertheless, it is a feature for the casual photo user. Check out some sample images here.

The last feature Google showed off in its upgraded photo system is called Auto Awesome, which identifies a series of photos taken in a burst sequence and then makes a new image from them, which could be an animated gif.

What's next from Google? Perhaps it'll be an automatic meme generator.

Check out our other Google I/O coverage:

Live Blog: Tune in for Live Coverage of Google I/O 2013

Google Announces GS4 with Stock Android at Google I/O

Google Launches All Access Music Streaming Service

Google Intros Google Play Game Services at Google I/O

Google Maps Gets a Revamp You'll Actually Notice

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • d_kuhn
    Google is pushing hard to provide an automatic path between android media capture devices and their cloud storage... and subsequently to Google+. This looks like another "if you use our tools you get all this cool stuff" sales pitch. Facebook had better beware, this is aimed at them. Too bad no android device can take a picture that looks as good as the shots in the video.
  • paladinnz
    Had a look at some of the "Enhanced" images, some look pretty terrible as it's screwed with the colour balance. Check out the photos Asian lady or the dog for an example.
  • Shannon Bradford
    So, Google turns on Auto Awesome by default. My photos that I pay Google to protect are now ruined by Google. Awesome it isn't!

    Does anyone know how to get your original photos back that Google messed with before I had a chance to turn this crap off?