Skip to main content

Google should keep Magic Eraser a Pixel 6 exclusive, for a while at least

Samsung already has a comparable feature, but it isn't nearly as good as Google's

Google's new photo editing feature, "Magic Eraser," is a very intuitive and good tool but isn't groundbreaking, some experts say, adding that a slew of apps and other phones have similar capabilities. However, they say that If Google is serious about its hardware advancements, then it should keep the feature exclusive to the Pixel 6 lineup and future phones, at least for some time.

The new feature was a long time coming. First announced back in 2017, Magic Eraser will edit out unwanted background images using the power of Google's in-house developed chip, Tensor, and its AI-processing capabilities. Tensor will first scan for any objects or people in the background of an image (to be removed) that has been taken on a Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro or one that has been uploaded. Alternatively, you can also manually highlight or circle objects to help Tensor identify what needs to be removed. This feature could also be used for some images in the foreground of a photo.

Android Central's Ara Wagoner and Nick Sutrich both say in their reviews of the phones that the feature is compelling. Sutrich further states that the "feature isn't perfect, but it's a massive step in the right direction and a great example of how AI can simplify or enable tasks not otherwise possible."

Mishaal Rahman, senior technical editor at Esper and former editor-in-chief of XDA Developers, agrees in an interview noting that the feature's results aren't perfect and "not representative of what Google teased four years ago." But, he says they're "more than passable at a glance, especially when viewed on tiny smartphone screens, and that's more than enough for most people."

Right now, the feature is exclusive to the Pixel 6 lineup, which are among the best Android devices. However, Rahman questioned in a tweet how long it would be before Google decides to offer Magic Eraser as a premium feature for all Google One subscribers. Google One is a subscription service developed by Google that offers expanded cloud storage along with other premium features.

Magic Eraser serves as a key differentiator between the Pixel 6 lineup and other Android devices

And while Rahman admits it's not within his purview to know Google's marketing plans, he says if Google is serious about the Pixel hardware, "as they say they now are, then they should keep this feature exclusive to the Pixel 6."

By doing this, Rahman explains that it would serve as a key differentiator between the Pixel 6 lineup and other devices.

"If Magic Eraser were to be made available to other devices through, say, a Google One subscription, then users would not be able to factor in the feature when making a phone comparison before a purchase," he says

For example, suppose someone were to consider the Samsung Galaxy S21 versus the Pixel 6. In that case, Rahman says there's more value in purchasing the latter because the user would have exclusive access to the Magic Eraser feature.

"This is even more true when another Android device is thrown into the mix, as, unlike Samsung, most other Android device makers don't offer a comparable feature. Yet if Google were to make Magic Eraser available to all users with a Google One plan, then this wouldn't even be a consideration," he says.

Jitesh Ubrani, IDC's research manager of worldwide device trackers, adds to Rahman's point by indicating in an interview that of all the latest changes to the Pixel lineup, Magic Eraser is one that is "demonstrable and highly relatable to consumers."

"Everyone has taken a picture that they wish could be made better by erasing a portion of it," he says. "Moreover, it's a unique feature that most other smartphones don't have at the moment, and this truly sets the Pixel apart from the rest of the pack."

Ubrani says he can see Google keeping the feature exclusive to the phones but struggles to see it becoming part of the Google One subscription service despite it being a great feature.

"It's something that's unlikely to be used on a regular basis, and more importantly, it dilutes the value proposition of the Pixel phones. Google stands to benefit a lot more by having a consumer own a Pixel than by having the consumer pay a small monthly fee on a recurring basis. The phone provides revenue and data stream for its lifetime of ownership, and it's a window into Google's other services while a Google One account is far more limiting in terms of reach," IDC's Jitesh Ubrani says.

And while Anshel Sag, senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, agrees, he notes that if Google were to differentiate the Pixel divice with exclusive features it would have to be a package.

"I don't think a single feature would accomplish [Google's seriousness about the Pixel hardware] effectively, it would need to be a suite of features," he says.

Avi Greengart, president and lead analyst at Techsponential, says that the feature is a Pixel 6 lineup exclusive for now, and that's partly because of the reliance on Tensor; however, this could change in the future.

"Google has many "Pixel first" features that debut on the Pixel before being integrated into general Android releases in the future. Magic Eraser is likely to stay a Pixel exclusive longer because of the reliance on Google's Tensor silicon," he says. "However, Tensor does not have dramatically better AI capabilities than top-of-the-line Qualcomm chipsets today, so this really may be more of a product differentiation move than a technical limitation."

Other manufacturers are likely to perfect their hardware to copycat Magic Eraser

Currently, Samsung is the only major manufacturer that offers a similar feature to Magic Eraser called "Object Eraser," but that feature isn't nearly as good as Google's version, and that's partly because the latter is a result of the Tensor chip.

Ubrani says that it's very likely that with Samsung's One UI 4, there is an opportunity for improvements and upgrades to Object Eraser, but doesn't see it surpassing the success Google has had with the feature.

"Google's primary advantage is the large collection of pictures that it has accumulated thanks to Google Photos. The pool of data that Google applies its machine learning algorithms to is far larger and superior to that of any other smartphone maker. That will remain the key ingredient behind Magic Eraser's success," he says.

"Nobody has the amount of image data or quality image algorithms that Google does to make [Magic Eraser] possible," Anshel Sag says.

Sag agrees and goes as far as to say that he would expect Samsung to try and partner with Adobe to implement a better version of Object Eraser rather than trying to replicate Google's capability, which "comes from its uniquely trained AI models and fast inference performance."

"Nobody has the amount of image data or quality image algorithms that Google does to make [Magic Eraser] possible. Also, it will only get smarter as more users start using it, which in mind could help Google continue to lead the competition even if they do implement similar capabilities," he says.

More users are porting Magic Eraser's capabilities

More recently, Rahman revealed that a modded APK file is making its rounds that enables Magic Eraser on any compatible Android device. After being installed, this APK tricks your Android phone into thinking that you're using a Pixel 6.

AC's Andrew Myrick tested this out on a Pixel 5 running Android 12, and it actually works pretty well. However, he says the final results are slightly different from what is experienced on the Pixel 6, mainly because Google Photos isn't relying on the Tensor chip.

Rahman notes that the APK file is actually a version of the application delivered only to the Pixel 6 but which is extracted from the device and uploaded online for others to download.

"While the image processing is rather slow on many devices, suggesting that Magic Eraser is at least partly accelerated by the Tensor chip in the Pixel 6, it does end up working," he says. "I think it's clear that Magic Eraser does not require the Tensor chip to function."

Leaker and technology expert Ishan Agarwal says in an interview that Google Agarwal notes that Google, for the most part, has always kept its camera technology to itself, and as a result, APKs have always appeared.

"This usually happens with every feature Google brings to their Google Camera app for Pixel phones. Downloading modded APKs used to be something a lot of people used to do as their phones lacked the great Pixel-quality Night Mode or better HDR algorithm," he says.

"Nowadays we see the brands bring those features themselves and hence there hasn't been the need to do the same in a while. I doubt many would even know or care enough to know about the feature until they've been introduced to a phone that does have it, so I don't see it being a motivator for Google to make the feature more widely available."



Source: androidcentral

Popular posts from this blog

FCC approves broadband 'nutrition labels' to help you shop for internet

The FCC is pushing nutrition labels for internet providers. What you need to know The FCC has voted to move forward with new rules for ISPs to display nutrition labels. The proposed rulemaking would mandate ISPs to display relevant speed and pricing information to consumers. This should make it easier for consumers to make an informed decision on their broadband. The FCC voted unanimously on a plan that would allow consumers to make better decisions about their broadband internet. The proposal will require internet service providers (ISPs) - including many of the best wireless carriers in the U.S. — to display "nutrition labels" that display relevant service information for consumers at point-of-sale. This includes internet speeds, allowances, and clear information on rates. "If you walk into any grocery store and pull boxes of cereal from the shelves, you can easily compare calories and carbohydrates," FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statemen

Yandex spins out self-driving car unit from its Uber JV, invests $150M into newco

Self-driving cars are still many years away from becoming a ubiquitous reality, but today one of the bigger efforts to build and develop them is taking a significant step out as part of its strategy to be at the forefront for when they do. Yandex — the publicly-traded Russian tech giant that started as a search engine but has expanded into a number of other, related areas (similar to US counterpart Google) — today announced that it is spinning out its self-driving car unit from MLU BV — a ride-hailing and food delivery joint venture it operates in partnership with Uber. The move comes amid reports that Yandex and Uber were eyeing up an IPO for MLU  last year. At the time, the JV was estimated to be valued at around $7.7 billion. It’s not clear how those plans will have been impacted in recent months, with COVID-19 putting huge pressure on ride-hailing and food-delivery businesses globally, and IPOs generally down compared to a year ago. In that context, spinning out the unit could

Slack’s new integration deal with AWS could also be about tweaking Microsoft

Slack and Amazon announced a big integration late yesterday afternoon. As part of the deal, Slack will use Amazon Chime for its call feature, while reiterating its commitment to use AWS as its preferred cloud provider to run its infrastructure. At the same time, AWS has agreed to use Slack for internal communications. Make no mistake, this is a big deal as the SaaS communications tool increases its ties with AWS, but this agreement could also be about slighting Microsoft and its rival Teams product by making a deal with a cloud rival. In the past Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has had choice words for Microsoft saying the Redmond technology giant sees his company as an “existential threat.” Whether that’s true or not — Teams is but one piece of a huge technology company — it’s impossible not to look at the deal in this context. Aligning more deeply with AWS sends a message to Microsoft, whose Azure infrastructure services compete with AWS. Butterfield didn’t say that of course

Xbox One S vs. Xbox One X: Which should you buy?

http://bit.ly/2v1agl5 We live and breathe tech, and also gaming, with every member of Windows Central rocking either an Xbox One console or PC gaming rig. We've compared and contrasted every iteration of Xbox One to bring you this guide. Xbox One X Raw 4K power From $299 at Amazon Pros Has thousands of games 4K media apps, Blu-ray discs, and games IR blaster for TV controls, Amazon Echo for voice controls Improved HDD speeds for faster loading times Cons More expensive at around $500 RRP Requires a 4K TV to get the most out of it The Xbox One X is the world's most powerful games console, running the latest games with the crispest, detailed visuals on TV sets with 4K HDR support. Xbox One S More affordable From $226 at Amazon Pros Has thousands of games 4K media apps and Blu-ray IR blaster for TV controls, Amazon Echo for voice controls More affordable at around $300 RRP Cons No 4K games Games run worse, even on a 1080p TV The Xbox One S i