Throughout the year, we’ve seen evidence Google might introduce premium editing features to Google Photos that would be locked behind a paywall. At first, we thought that Google would introduce new editing features that required a Google One membership, but now it looks like the company is already testing locking existing features behind a paywall.
Shortly after we published our teardown of Google Photos 5.18 confirming that a Google One paywall for photo editing features is in the works, a reader in the comments section informed us that the Color Pop feature is locked behind a Google One membership for him. We’ve attached the two screenshots shared by the user, and we’ve also added two screenshots showing off the Color Pop feature in action (this was from a Google account that doesn’t have a Google One subscription).
Credits: Andy J
Color Pop in Google Photos
Google first introduced the Color Pop feature to the Google Photos app in May of 2018, shortly after the company’s I/O developer conference. The feature essentially keeps the subject in color while turning the background black and white (or vice versa), allowing the subject to “pop.” It’s a fun feature, and seemingly one Google thinks is advanced enough to convince people to pay for.
It’s unclear what other premium editing features will be put behind a paywall. However, we recently uncovered strings of code in version 5.18 that suggest Google will introduce preprocessing suggestions and a Skypalette feature, which will include new filters to help users edit the sky.
The changes come on the heels of a major redesign to the Google Photos editor. The company also recently added a print service that will send subscribers 10 high-quality photo prints each month for $6.99. Google Photos has been one of Google’s best services since its introduction in 2015, offering free, unlimited storage for photos up to 16 MP. These new features might be Google’s way of trying to better monetize the service.
We reached out to Google PR for confirmation about the changes, but we haven’t heard back before the publication of this article.
Update 1: Color Pop requires Google One subscription for photos without depth info
In a statement sent to Engadget, Google says that the color pop feature will only require a Google One membership if the user attempts to apply the feature to photos lacking depth information. “In Google Photos, color pop is a feature that continues to be available for anyone to use, at no cost, for photos with depth information (such as portrait mode),” a Google spokesperson told Engadget. “As a part of an ongoing rollout that began earlier this year, Google One members can apply the feature to even more photos of people, including those without depth information.”
Now that it’s confirmed that Google is already locking an editing feature behind a Google One subscription, it’s possible that some future editing features in the Google Photos app will be paywalled. Per our teardown of version 5.18 of the app, we already know that more editing features are on the way. We’ll keep an eye out for when these go live and will let you know if one or more of these will require a Google One subscription.