Google is turning off face retouching by default on Pixel devices

Google is turning off face retouching by default on Pixel devices

Taking selfies has become a time-honored tradition in the age of social media, but our obsession with them might actually be having a negative affect on our wellbeing — especially when filters are applied. That’s why Google is turning off its face retouching algorithms by default in the Google Camera app for its Pixel devices. The changes will be available first on the Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, and Pixel 5.

Google said it made its decision after conducting multiple studies and speaking with child and mental health experts. Apparently, when users aren’t aware a camera or photo app has applied a filter, the photos can negatively impact mental wellbeing by setting an unreasonable beauty standard.

In addition to turning face retouching filters off by default, Google is also making an effort to steer away from references to “beauty.” Iconography will be changed with value-neutral language, so users better understand what filters do and the potential consequences of using them. “And if you choose to use face retouching effects, you’ll see more information about how each setting is applied and what changes it makes to your image,” Google said in a blog post.

Google turned face retouching on by default in the Pixel 4, but a lot has changed since then. “These are the first of many steps we’re taking to support wellbeing and bring your voice into our design process,” Google said.

Notably, upon releasing the first stable build of Android 11, Google published the latest version of Android’s Compatibility Definition Document, which detailed what features OEMs were required to implement to meet compatibility requirements for Android 11. One of the requirements bans OEMs from implementing facial retouching algorithms during image processing. Retouching can, however, still be done in post in the OEM’s camera app. Hopefully, other OEMs follow Google’s lead and disable all facial retouching features by default.

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Brandon Russell
Brandon Russell

Brandon's love of technology can be traced back to his childhood, when he would obsessively watch Back to the Future. Since then he's followed the industry and its many innovations, from handheld consoles to powerful smartphones. He's still waiting on a hoverboard.