Twinkling Christmas Tree

Click the image to see it sparkling

Google’s new ‘Auto Awesome’ feature (how very American) adds a little twist to images uploaded to Google+ Photos and is a whole new way of ‘improving’ your photos. It’s Google having a little bit of fun with some clever technology which dynamically adds an entertaining surprise to your images.

What’s really clever is that you need do nothing. The system analyses the images and when it finds one that looks like a snowy scene for example, it will add falling snow to the image. Not just a bunch of white dots splattered across your image but actually animated, falling snow. If it finds something that looks like a Christmas tree or fairy lights, you’ve guessed it, Google will actually make the lights twinkle. In some examples the latter is superb.

Auto Awesome has been around for a little while as a way to enhance the images you upload and, I have to say that in my experience it doesn’t do a bad job at all. If you upload an image that’s a bit dull and lifeless or low contrast for example, it will create a new version that’s brighter and clearer and altogether more pleasing to the eye.

Granted your average amateur or professional photographer would have a fit at the thought of some automated technological wizardry having the audacity to determine how best a photo can be improved but this feature is not for them and it’s also just a bit of clever fun.

Google updated the feature mid-December to add their own Christmas spirit in the form of snow and sparkly lights.

There’s way more to Auto Awesome than snow and twinkling lights though and here is a run-down (courtesy of Google) of all the features for photos:

  • Eraser – If you take a sequence of 3 or more photos in front of a structure or landmark with movement in the background, Eraser will give you a photo with all of the moving objects removed. It’s helpful for those situations when you’re trying to get a great shot of a landmark or other crowded place, but want to avoid including all of the people in the background of your photo.
  • Action – Take a series of photos of someone moving (dancing, running, jumping) and Auto-awesome will merge them together into one action shot where you can see the full range of movements in a single image, capturing the movement in one captivating still.
  • Pano – If you’ve taken a series of photos with overlapping landscape views, Auto-awesome will stitch these photos together into a panoramic image.
  • HDR – High Dynamic Range is the process of taking multiple exposures of the same image. By merging these images together, your photos will achieve a greater range of shadows and light. Uploading three similar images at different exposures – low, medium and high exposure – will create an HDR image for you.
  • Motion – If you’ve taken a series of photos in succession (at least 5), Auto-awesome will stitch these photos together into a short animation.
  • Smile – If you’ve taken a few group photos, Auto-awesome will choose the best shots of each person in your image and merge them into one great-looking photo.
  • Mix – If you’ve taken a series of portraits sharing similar background elements, Auto-awesome will compile these photos together into a photobooth-style grid. Mix is meant to showcase portrait photos taken with similar backgrounds in time, so it works best with close-ups of faces.

As if that wasn’t enough, Auto Awesome can also automatically create video montages of video clips you upload! Here’s an example of Stanford University filmed by a quad-copter and then put together completely automatically by the Auto Awesome Video Editing tool:

Oh, and if you’re worried about Google tampering with your precious images, don’t. The original images remain untouched and a copy is created in whatever format is best for the final outcome. For example, all photos containing motion are created in the form of an animated GIF.

So go on, upload some photos or video clips to your Google account and see what happens.