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What happened to Google Photos' Remove Obstruction feature? (Update: Not a priority)

Google still hasn't added the "remove obstruction" feature to Google Photos. Will we get an answer at this year's I/O nearly 12 months later?

Published onMay 12, 2018

The Google Photos app icon.

Update, May 12: Google I/O 2018 shed a little light on the mystery of the missing “Remove Obstruction” feature. When asked about it, members of the Google Photos team explained that, while the technology is real and available, Google didn’t think it’s a priority for users. Furthermore, it doesn’t sound like that’s going to change in the near future. In the absence of Remove Obstruction, Google has teased features like Color Pop and other AI-assistant image editing tools that are already rolling out to some users.

Original post, April 26: At last year’s Google I/O, the Photos team revealed a new feature called “Remove Obstruction.” This feature essentially detected objects in the way of your subject and used machine learning to edit the obstruction out. From the examples Google showed off, the feature looked incredibly useful, allowing users to do things like removing gates while photographing their kids’ baseball game.

It’s been almost an entire year and we still haven’t seen the feature make it to the app. Google has a habit of announcing features and apps and waiting many months before actually pushing them out, but in this case we might actually make it to an entirely new Google I/O before we hear anything.

We’ll be heading to the annual conference yet again this year, and I’ll be chasing up the Photos team to see what happened. I’d personally love to use this in my everyday life, and I would hope Google’s AI and machine learning algorithms had gotten good enough in the past year to perform the feature accurately.

What's coming to Google I/O and how to reserve your seats

We’ll be sure to report back on any new features the Google Photos team shows off this year, but be sure to check back. I am determined to get an answer regarding what happened with this feature.

Could you see yourself using this feature often? Let us know in the comments below and make sure you stay tuned to our massive Google I/O hub page for all the latest news from the event!