Pixel 8’s photo editor pushes image manipulation to a new level

Google’s latest mobile device offerings, the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, take AI photo editing to a whole new level that it is sparking debates about the very essence of reality that our screens present.

Edited photos that are indistinguishable from reality

Picture this: you’re in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, trying to capture that iconic “holding-up-the-tower” shot. It’s a challenge, requiring precise positioning and patience for the perfect moment. But with Google’s AI-powered Magic Editor, that frustration might be a thing of the past.

Available in Google Photos on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, the Magic Editor uses generative AI and advanced processing techniques to perform complex photo edits.

It does more than just enhancing colors or adjusting light: you can relocate subjects, enlarge objects, remove distractions, and even alter the sky’s color.

Also read: Pixel 8 Pro’s temperature sensor: Just a party trick?

In other words, you can put your subject as far or as close to the Leaning Tower of Pisa as possible and it would be nearly impossible to tell that the photo is edited.

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, explains: “If you’re trying to get the perfect photo from your time at a popular waterfall, you could remove the bag strap you forgot to take off… make the sky brighter and less cloudy… and relocate and change the scale of your subject so they’re perfectly lined up.” It’s a revolution in photo editing, allowing anyone to create the image they envision, effortlessly.

The promise and peril of new AI editing tools

The Magic Editor creates new talking points about the authenticity and credibility of online images. Google’s new Pixel phones epitomize the power and peril of AI.

On one hand, AI provides creative freedom and convenience in digital media; on the other hand, it challenges our trust in online content, already a fragile commodity.

The AI tools, including the Magic Editor, Best Take, and others, promise to enhance our daily lives. They make tasks like answering calls, reducing background noise in videos, and achieving the perfect group shot easier.

However, as these technologies advance, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between edited and unedited photos. Google markets AI as a unique selling point for its Pixel 8 phones, making it central to their user experience.

New ethical questions

While these AI tools empower users creatively, they also present ethical dilemmas. What happens when someone manipulates professional photos to deceive or create fake news? How can we trust what we see on social media when AI can so easily alter it?

While image editing is not new, the Magic Editor simplifies a process that once took hours into a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, it also opens up new opportunities for abuse and misuse.

Also read: Google and Qualcomm team up to create wearable chips

From a public policy perspective, these tools can facilitate disinformation campaigns by malicious actors. Adding watermarks to edited images could help verify their authenticity, but Google has yet to indicate if this will be implemented.

Image credit: Google Keyword


Bal M

Bal was BTW's copywriter specialising in tech and productivity tools. He has experience working in startups, mid-size tech companies, and non-profits.

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