It doesn’t take much to damage an otherwise great photo. This could mean that there is someone you don’t want in the background or a blurry, brightly colored object behind your subject that you didn’t see when you picked up the shutter. Removing these uninvited guests from photos usually takes time, expensive software, and advanced knowledge of photo retouching. If you’re lacking in any of the above, Google wants to help — that is, if you have an existing Pixel phone.
Google introduced its Magic Eraser feature with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, and it’s available on the Pixel 6A as well. It is designed to tackle the above scenarios by removing or hiding distracting elements from your photos. The results are not exactly, uh, magical, but they are often better than what you started with. Anyway, you don’t need a Photoshop subscription to try it out.
I followed these steps on a Pixel 6A phone running Android 12 with the April 2022 security patch.
- to open Google Photos
- Click on the photo you want to edit to open it
- Magic Eraser may appear as one of the suggested editing tools, but if you don’t see it, tap Edit > Tools > Magic Eraser
You might also end up in the Magic Eraser tool if you’re browsing through your photos and see (and click) a suggestion to “remove people in the background”. In both cases, the workflow below is the same.
The system will look for areas that it can suggest scanning, and if it finds any, a text will appear at the bottom of the screen that says “Suggestions found.” Suggestions in the image are highlighted with a white border.
On the Pixel 6A, there is also a toggle switch at the bottom of the screen to switch between two modes: erase And the camouflage. Erase will remove the object completely and use AI to try to fill in the background based on context; The blur will change the color or brightness of the area to make it less distracting. You can switch between these modes by tapping on it, and as you do, the suggested area will change accordingly.
To use phone suggestions, tap either erase all or disguise everything, Depending on the mode you’re working in (and the phone you’re using). If you prefer to manually select an object or area for Magic Eraser, click the “X” at the text prompt to dismiss suggestions. Use your finger to draw on the area you want to edit – you can either clean up the entire area you want to edit or circle it. You can also pinch to zoom, which is really useful if you’re making a manual selection. Use two fingers to navigate to different parts of the image and one finger to draw and make a selection.
Once you lift your finger off the screen, the effects will be automatically applied to your chosen area. You can use the Undo and Redo buttons at the bottom of the screen to cancel and reapply changes or tap Re-Set To return to the origin.
When you’re done, either tap he did To save changes or return to the main editing screen – From there, you can continue to use other editing tools or save a copy of your photo.