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