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Google has a reason for disabling face retouching by default on Pixel phones

By Cookie Monster - on 11 Oct 2020, 10:55am

Google has a reason for disabling face retouching by default on Pixel phones

Note: This article was first published on 3 Oct 2020.Image source: Google


Google is disabling the face retouching feature by default on the Pixel phones despite the huge popularity of beauty filters and beautification apps among smartphone users.

Based on several studies done across four countries and speaking to child and mental health experts on the impact of such features, Google's Digital Wellbeing team says 80% of parents are worried about these beautification filters and two-thirds of teens claimed they have been bullied by their friends based on how they look in their selfies. 

The Digital Wellbeing team believes harm from face filter use can be anticipated and preempted through defaults, value-neutral language and visuals, transparency and education. 

Google wants OEMs to consider turning off face retouching features by default. Its research shows that features that modify users' appearance sends a signal about how they should manage their appearance. The company is leading by example with the retouching feature turned off by default on the Pixel phones.

Instead of using sparkling design elements and language that implies improving or correcting one's appearance, Google uses the feature name "Face retouching" and the icon is updated without sparkles. Adjustment levels within the feature also follow the same guidelines, using numbers and symbols or simple terms such as "low" and "high". Google believes value-neutral language and visuals help to avoid implications that these features enhance, correct or beautify one's appearance. 

As face retouching features can be subtle, Google wants users to know when such features are applied in real-time and after taking the photo. For the Pixel camera interface, Google is using a pill-style indicator that appears above the selfie to inform the user that smooth face retouching is on.

To give users more awareness and education on the level of retouching, Google suggests to have post-capture comparison of photos. It is easier for users to compare the photos on the same screen and see the level of retouching applied. 

Source: Google via Android Police

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