One year later, Magic Eraser is still the Google Pixel’s best party trick

When Google launched the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, one of the standout features was Magic Eraser. It’s a relatively simple tool in the Photos app that allows you to remove people or objects that you don’t want in the background of an image. It’s one of the main reasons I wanted to check out a Pixel phone to begin with, because this is the kind of thing I wish Apple had done with iOS years ago.

Since coming aboard here at Digital Trends, I’ve had the opportunity to check out Android devices, including the Google Pixel 6a and the new Pixel 7. I’m primarily an iPhone user with my iPhone 14 Pro, but I’ve been testing out Magic Eraser on the Pixel 7 to see if it’s all that it’s cracked up to be, even though the feature originally debuted on the Pixel 6 series. Here’s what I’ve found.

It’s simple to use and works surprisingly great Erasing items in Magic Eraser.Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

One of the main reasons I wanted to try the Magic Eraser feature is because I have a ton of photos from Disneyland. As you’d imagine, Disneyland is a place that is pretty much impossible to not have people in the background of photos.

I have a Magic Key for Disneyland (aka an annual pass), so I go there frequently (sometimes just for photos), whether that’s my own photos or through Disneyland’s PhotoPass service. And unless you get lucky, there’s always someone in the background of what would otherwise be a perfect shot.

Christine and husband pose in front of Disneyland castle with Club 33 shopping bags.
Christine and husband pose in front of Disneyland castle with Club 33 shopping bags with background people removed with Magic Eraser.
  • 1. Posing with Club 33 shopping bags in front of Disneyland castle
  • 2. Magic Eraser used to get rid of a few people in the background

Since I got my hands on the Pixel 7, I’ve been transferring my photos from my iPhone 14 Pro to my Google Photos account for the sole purpose of editing them with Magic Eraser. I noticed that Google will give me editing suggestions as I browse through my photos, which I thought was nice, though it didn’t always pop up for images that I thought could use some Magic Eraser-ing. Regardless, I began to put that Magic Eraser tool to the test.

Christine and husband pose in front of Disneyland's castle.
Christine and husband pose in front of Disneyland castle with Magic Eraser taking out background people.
  • 1. Posing in front of the castle at Disneyland
  • 2. Magic Eraser used to remove background people

On most of my images, Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) would automatically detect people and objects in the background once I hit the Magic Eraser button — and sometimes it wouldn’t. When it does magically detect those unwanted background objects though, I could see all of them highlighted, and with a single tap, I took them out of the picture.

Magic Key Terrace at Disneyland park enjoying refreshments.
Enjoying drinks at Magic Key Terrace at Disneyland with background people removed.
  • 1. Enjoying a drink at the Magic Key Terrace in Disney California Adventure
  • 2. People in background removed with Magic Eraser

I did notice that Magic Eraser would leave behind some items that the erased person would have, such as a stroller or balloon, and that’s when I manually tried to erase those objects left behind. When Magic Eraser had issues automatically detecting things to get rid of, it was easy enough to manually circle or highlight those unwanted objects myself.

Duck at Disneyland.
Disneyland duck asking for food from people with Magic Eraser used to remove trash on ground.
  • 1. Duck at Disneyland looking for food
  • 2. Magic Eraser used to remove trash from ground

Magic Eraser is also great for getting rid of minor imperfections in a photo — such as dust or debris, scratches and scuffs, stray hairs, or other small things you notice after the photo was taken. It’s a simple tool that allows for quick and easy removal of unwanted objects in your photos. But like everything else in life, it’s best used in moderation.

It’s definitely not a full Photoshop replacement

Christine poses in front of headless horseman statue at DCA.
Christine poses in front of headless horseman statue at DCA with Magic Eraser used on background people.
  • 1. Christine poses in front of the headless horseman statue at Disney California Adventure
  • 2. Magic Eraser used to get rid of people in the background, but some digital artifacts remain

As much as I like using Magic Eraser, I noticed that it is far from perfect. In my testing, I’ve found that it is great for removing a few, more prominent people in the background. However, since Disneyland is often full of people and you’ll have dozens of folks in the background at any given time, Magic Eraser seemed to struggle with those situations.

While I could erase those dozens of people, it left behind a lot of digital artifacts in those spots since they needed to be filled, so the final image looked worse than before. And even though we mostly look at our photos on the small screens of our smartphones, the noise that Magic Eraser left behind was far too much, and very noticeable from a single glance. As much as I want to rely on Magic Eraser, it certainly is not ready to replace a professional Photoshop job.

Camouflage helps remove further distractions

Google added a Camouflage tool in conjunction with Magic Eraser with the Pixel 6a, and it eventually made its way to the rest of the Pixel lineup, including the newer Pixel 7 series. Camouflage helps pick up the slack where Magic Eraser isn’t the best tool for the job — this is especially true when background objects may overlap with other image elements, which often happens at Disneyland.