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Google brings AI-powered editing tools, like Magic Editor, to all Google Photos users for free | TechCrunch

Google Photos is getting an AI upgrade. On Wednesday, the tech giant announced that a handful of enhanced editing features previously limited to Pixel devices and paid subscribers — including its AI-powered Magic Editor — will now make their way to all Google Photos users for free. This expansion also includes Google’s Magic Eraser, which removes unwanted items from photos; Photo Unblur, which uses machine learning to sharpen blurry photos; Portrait Light, which lets you change the light source on photos after the fact, and others.

The editing tools have historically been a selling point for Google’s high-end devices, the Pixel phones, as well as a draw for Google’s cloud storage subscription product, Google One. But with the growing number of AI-powered editing tools flooding the market, Google has decided to make its set of AI photo editing features available to more people for free.

Image Credits: Google

There are some caveats to this expansion, however.

For starters, the tools will only start rolling out on May 15 and it will take weeks for them to make it to all Google Photos users.

In addition, there are some hardware device requirements to be able to use them. On ChromeOS, for instance, the device must be a Chromebook Plus with ChromeOS version 118+ or have at least 3GB RAM. On mobile, the device must run Android 8.0 or higher or iOS 15 or higher.

The company notes that Pixel tablets will now be supported, as well.

Magic Editor is the most notable feature of the group. Introduced last year with the launch of the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, this editing tool uses generative AI to do more complicated photo edits — like filling in gaps in a photo, repositioning the subject and other edits to the foreground or background of a photo. With Magic Editor, you can change a gray sky to blue, remove people from the background of a photo, recenter the photo subject while filling in gaps, remove other clutter and more.

Previously, these kinds of edits would require Magic Eraser and other professional editing tools, like Photoshop, to get the same effect. And those edits would be more manual, not automated via AI.

Image Credits: Google

With the expansion, Magic Editor will come to all Pixel devices, while iOS and Android users (whose phones meet the requirements) will get 10 Magic Editor saves per month. To go beyond that, they’ll still need to buy a Premium Google One plan — meaning 2TB of storage and above.

The other tools will be available to all Google Photos users, no Google One subscription is required. The full set of features that will become available includes Magic Eraser, Photo Unblur, Sky suggestions, Color pop, HDR effect for photos and videos, Portrait Blur, Portrait Light (plus the add light/balance light features in the tool), Cinematic Photos, Styles in the Collage Editor and Video Effects.

Other features like the AI-powered Best Take — which merges similar photos to create a single best shot where everyone is smiling — will continue to be available only to Pixel 8 and 8 Pro.

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Robotic Automations

Biden’s FCC argues net neutrality restoration will increase online free speech | TechCrunch

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on Wednesday announced plans to vote on rules restoring net neutrality. The vote, set for April 25, would reinstate 2015 internet rules adopted under President Obama that were subsequently repealed by President Trump’s FCC two years later.

Rosenworcel, a longtime advocate for net neutrality, announced plans to reverse the reversal toward the end of last year, arguing that the Trump administration had, “put the agency on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law and the wrong side of the public.”

In a call with the media this morning, a senior FCC official echoed the sentiment, arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic reaffirmed the importance of broadband intent access. The official added that ongoing national security threats have further highlighted the need for strong oversight.

Net neutrality has the rare chance to receive widespread bipartisan support. In 2022, a poll from the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation found that 82% of Democrats, 65% of Republicans and 68% of Independents supported its restoration.

Opponents suggest that the rules disincentivize investment in telecommunication technologies and represent a form of government overreach. South Dakota Senator John Thune called proposals to reinstate such rules, “a heavy-handed government solution – in search of a problem.” The Republican added, “The Biden FCC wants to use the idea of net neutrality as a cover to assert broad new government powers over the internet using rules that were designed for telephone monopolies back during the Great Depression.”

This morning, FCC officials pointed out that investments only increased following the adoption of the rules in 2015. Speaking on behalf of the committee on Wednesday’s call, a representative added that the FCC is not interested in policing speech online — if anything, they argued, such rules increase speech by taking it out of the hands of internet service providers (ISPs).

“After the prior administration abdicated authority over broadband services, the FCC has been handcuffed from acting to fully secure broadband networks, protect consumer data, and ensure the internet remains fast, open, and fair,” Rosenworcel noted in a prepared statement. “A return to the FCC’s overwhelmingly popular and court-approved standard of net neutrality will allow the agency to serve once again as a strong consumer advocate of an open internet.”

More difficult to answer, however, were questions about how to enshrine such rules. Should they pass, it would represent the third reversal of course in as many administrations. Should Trump be reelected in November, how can current officials ensure we don’t live through this all over again? For this, the FCC was not able to provide a satisfactory answer, only that it believed it had firm legal footing and a shared hope that this would be the last time the committee was forced to revisit these rules.

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