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Google's best AI editing tools are coming to Chromebooks, not PCs

Google Magic EraserImage: Foundry

Some of the best AI editing tools Google Photos offers, including Magic Eraser, are coming to Chromebooks — no subscription required. But PCs are apparently being left out in the cold.

Google has traditionally launched new features on its Pixel phones. Those have included Magic Eraser, along with Photo Unblur and Portrait Light, which use various AI tricks to spruce up your photos. Portrait Light, for example, can “reposition” the sun to light up your photo in a more attractive way, and Magic Eraser can simply zap an unwanted object from your picture.

Beginning on May 15, Google says it will open all three tools to pretty much anyone on iOS and Android, provided you have access to an Android 8.0 phone or an iPhone running iOS 15. Google won’t charge any subscription fees, either.

But there’s a catch if you prefer to work on a more powerful device, with a keyboard. Google is not making those editing tools available to PCs, whether it be as a dedicated Windows app or even the web. Instead, you’ll need a Chromebook, and only the very latest premium models, at that.

Specifically, “your device must be a Chromebook Plus with ChromeOS version 118+,” Google says. Unfortunately, that’s all hidden in a footnote to Google’s blog post announcing the new changes.

That Google is reserving its AI editing features for the new Chromebook Plus lineup isn’t entirely unexpected; Google announced the new AI-powered Chromebook Plus lineup last fall, and mentioned Magic Eraser as a feature. They start at $399, and include models from Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, and more. Google is also expanding Magic Editor, which allows you to move objects around in a photo via AI, to all Pixel devices. Android and iOS users will get 10 free Magic Editor saves per month.

Still, isn’t it high time that Google allows photo editing on the web? I can already view my Google Photos on the web, and perform basic edits. “If you can’t find an editing feature on the web, try using the Google Photos app on Android or iOS,” Google “helpfully” suggests. C’mon.

With Microsoft bringing more and more AI features to its own Photos app, it seems like Google is just shooting itself in the foot by ignoring the PC.

As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

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