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Google Photos will soon let you erase painful memories

Google Photos Memories
(Image credit: Google)

The Google Photos Memories feature can be nice way to be reminded of fun times, but it can also frequently jab you in the ribs with a painful memory too – so Google is bringing some new controls to help it become a bit less tone-deaf.

While the Memories feature – which appears at the top of your Photos feed with reminders of photos from previous years – does already let you hide photos of particular people or time periods, Google says it'll be making these controls easier to find from "later this summer" (so sometime between June-September).

During Google I/O, it showed off some new controls – which can be brought up by hitting the three dots in the bottom right-hand corner of a memory – to help you quickly hide a painful memory or erase it completely.

Once you've hit the three-dot menu, it'll give you the option of removing a single photo from a Memory, renaming the memory, or removing it completely. If Google could let us do the same in our brains, that would be lovely.

This is an issue for virtually all Google Photos users, so it's great to see it being addressed – but it's not the only feature Google's adding to its cloud photo storage service. On the subject of Memories, from today you'll also be able to rename Trip highlights, while Pixel phones will soon be getting a handy new 'locked folder' feature.

Locked folders, which will become available on Pixel phones first and then other Android devices "throughout the year", will be passcode-protected spaces where you can save snaps to make sure they don't appear as you scroll through Google Photos (or any other apps). On Pixel phones, you'll also be able to save photos and videos directly to a locked folder from the camera, which is a pretty handy bonus feature for owners of those phones.

Google Photos Cinematic moment

(Image credit: Google)

Artificial memories

Winner of the creepiest new Google Photos feature though is its Cinematic moments, which uses machine learning to weave together two or three similar shots into an animated video. 

While it looks like an impressive feat of interpolation, Cinematic moments also gave us similar chills to the ones we felt on seeing MyHeritage's Deep Nostalgia tech, which brings photos of your old relatives to life.

In fact, Google says that Cinematic moments can be created with "any pair of nearly identical images", whether they were "captured on the latest smartphone or scanned from an old photo album" – which suggests that Google is indeed going for the same nostalgic themes as MyHeritage, only hopefully with slightly less of the "uncanny valley" effect.

The last big Google Photos update announced at Google IO was a slightly less potentially divisive new feature called Little Patterns. This apparently uses machine learning (of course) to spot less obvious visual patterns in your photo stream (for example, based on shape or color) and string together connected snaps in a new Memory. 

All in all, expect to see your Google Photos library get a lot more sophisticated this year – for better and, in the case of creepy AI-generated videos, perhaps slightly worse, too.