Google Photos is introducing a powerful upgrade that will give users unprecedented control over one of its standout features – Cinematic photos. This feature, introduced in 2020 and updated in 2022, adds a cinematic 3D-like zoom effect to photos, highlighting the subject against the background. Previously, it was Google’s prerogative to decide which photos received the effect, but now, users can convert any photo in their library into a Cinematic photo, which is saved as a short video clip alongside the original image.
This update transforms the feature from an occasional novelty into a versatile tool, opening up new creative opportunities for users. Now, users can take pictures specifically with Cinematic photos in mind. Moreover, this feature allows users to tell stories by incorporating selected Cinematic photos into longer video sequences.
The newly introduced Cinematic photos have added benefits. They tend to retain their original crop and aspect ratio, unlike the initial versions, which usually cropped in tightly on the subject. These ‘new’ Cinematic photos are also presented in up to 4K resolution, surpassing the previous 1080p limit.
To create a Cinematic photo, open the Google Photos app and go to the Library tab, then tap the Utilities button. The option to create a Cinematic photo will appear in the ‘Create New’ section. Tap on ‘Cinematic photo’, select a single picture, and adjust the slider below to choose the duration of the animation. Then tap ‘Save’, and your Cinematic photo is ready.
The first time you use this feature, a separate 30MB download is initiated, indicating that it functions as a new plug-in component of the Google Photos app. This could mean that some of the processing required to create Cinematic photos has been transferred from Google’s servers to the local device. Consequently, the speed of the feature may vary considerably according to the processing power of your device. One drawback is that new Cinematic photos are tagged with the date they were created, not the date the original photo was taken, meaning they won’t appear together in your Google Photos timeline.
At present, the feature appears to be limited to a small test group of Google One subscribers with Pixel devices (Pixel 5 and newer) and at least Android 12. However, a wider roll-out is expected to start soon, with the potential for expansion beyond Pixel smartphones, depending on device performance.
This is an amazing update for Google Photos, empowering users to unleash their creativity and personalize their photo experience like never before – on demand.