29 November 2019
If you might remember, Google announced a new Google Photos feature called Colorize at Google I/O 2018. This feature is said to add colors to black and white photos with the help of AI-powered algorithms. Fast forward to this year's Google I/O event, it was confirmed that the feature was still under development. After a wait of about one and a half years, the folks over at 9to5Google finally managed to enabled Colorize mode on Google Photos version 4.26 which is the latest version.
Once enabled correctly, the feature becomes accessible via Google Photos' in-built photo editing options which makes sense. It is the third option after Original and Auto options. It also has a Beta tag next to it confirming that the feature is still not ready for the prime time and is part of the internal testing. Google describes the feature as, "Colorize analyzes black and white photos and adds color" through a pop-up which appears when you tap the option for the first time.
Since the feature works only with black and white photos, the team tested it after applying the B&W filter of Snapseed application to their already colored photos. The test revealed that the Colorize mode is sending the photos to Google's servers for all the processing part which takes a few seconds to get completed. It was confirmed by the fact that the feature asks the user to upload the photo. It is quite possible that Google might release local processing for the feature by the time Colorize exits beta stage.
Here is a preview of the feature in action. The first photo is the original one, the second photo is after applying the B&W filter, and the last one is the Colorize mode's output.
As one can notice, the final result is not as good as one would expect it to be. The early testing reveals that Colorize has a tendency to go for an old, vintage-type colored look which is something you might have seen in old VHS tapes. Nevertheless, it still seems like a good feature to make those old black and white photos colorful and give them a new look. And who knows Google might make it better it by the time it becomes available for everyone.