Google Photos is getting one of its best free upgrades ever

Google drops the paywall to make some of Google Photos' very best features free

Google Photos Magic Eraser
(Image credit: Google)

When Google announced its various AI-powered features for Google Photos last year, there was a catch: you needed to pay for them or buy a Pixel phone. That's now changed, and Google has made some of its very best Photos tools completely free to everybody on iOS, Android and ChromeOS.

As you'll see from the list, a lot of goodies are going free. According to 9to5google, they are:

  • Magic Editor
  • Magic Eraser
  • Photo Unblur
  • HDR effect for photos & videos
  • Portrait blur
  • Portrait light
  • Color pop
  • Sky suggestions
  • Cinematic photos
  • Styles in collage editor
  • Video effects

I think the first three – Magic Editor, Magic Eraser and Photo UnBlur – are the biggest draws here. Magic Editor uses generative AI to change the composition of photos, for example by resizing or moving individual objects. Magic Eraser can make items including people vanish as if they'd never been there in the first place, and Photo UnBlur uses AI smarts to bring sharpness to poorly focused images.

There are still some Pixel and Google One perks: Pixel owners and Google One subscribers will get unlimited saves in Magic Editor on Android, while other mobile users will be limited to ten monthly saves.

How to get Google Photos' best features for free

If you have iOS, Android or a Chromebook, all you really need to do is wait: the new features will be "widely available" in May on all three platforms. In terms of system requirements Android users will need to be on Android 8.0 or better, while Apple owners will need to have iOS 15 or later. 3GB of RAM is recommended for both platforms. Meanwhile on ChromeBooks, the OS requirement is ChromeOS version 118+.

These are really impressive features, and while the previous price wasn't exactly wallet-threatening – here in the UK the 100GB Google One plan that gave you the extra photo features is £15.99 a year – we know that even a fairly low price tag means a lot of people won't be using premium features. So you can expect a flood of fakery from family and friends when these features go live next month. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (