While Google still hasn’t set an official date for its annual spring product showcase, thanks to inside sources and a recent APK teardown, we may have just gotten a preview of some new camera features set to debut on the Pixel 4.
According to a “reliable” source who spoke with 9to5Google, one of the first new Pixel 4 camera features is called Motion Mode that apparently makes snapping pictures of fast-moving subjects easier, while still retaining the blurry backgrounds that typically can only be captured by traditional DSLR or mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses.
9to5Google’s source claims that Google’s Night Sight mode — which remains one of if not the best low-light photo modes found on any phone — will be getting some general enhancements that will make it faster and more powerful. This reportedly includes one based around astrophotography that will allegedly allow the Pixel 4 to better capture things like star trails or constellations without the need for the expensive accessories.
Meanwhile, a member of the XDA Developers community recently spotted some new code in the Google Camera 6.3 APK, which contains references to three new camera improvements due out later this year.
All three features are marked in code as “experimental2019,” which further indicates that these new features will be exclusive to the Pixel 4 before potentially being ported over to existing Pixel phones sometime in the future.
The first feature is called Audio Zoom, which appears to be very similar to the Zoom-in Mic feature Samsung recently added to the Galaxy Note 10. By adjusting audio levels based on where the camera is pointing and how much you’re zooming in, the new camera feature would presumably make it easier to highlight sounds from a particular subject, while also reducing distracting sounds coming from the surrounding environment.
Next comes something called Live HDR, which is expected to use machine learning to automatically retouch photos in order to enhance things like contrast, colour saturation and more in real-time. XDA Developers speculate that Live HDR is likely based on the HDRnet algorithm, which was developed jointly by researchers from Google and MIT and was demoed more than two years ago back in the summer of 2017.
The last new feature spotted in the Google Camera 6.3 APK is an algorithm that is meant to cut down on distortion from the Pixel 4's selfie cam by better correcting for the front-facing camera’s wide field-of-view. If launched, this feature should help prevent things like people’s faces from appearing fat or stretched out, and with the Pixel 4 going back to having a single selfie cam instead of the dual cams used on the Pixel 3, should help prevent the perception that the Pixel 4's selfie game has regressed from last year.
And as a seeming confirmation of the Night Sight improvements mentioned by 9to5Google, there is code in the Google Camera 6.3 APK that includes references to a Zero Shutter Lag option for Night Sight that could speed up the process of taking low-light shots.
All told, fancy camera features and excellent image quality are already some of the biggest selling points of Google’s Pixel phones, so it shouldn’t really be surprise that Google has been working on some new tricks for its upcoming flagship handset. And who knows, based previous teasers for the Pixel 4, if enough leaks and rumours keep coming out, Google might just confirm even more new features before the Pixel 4's official launch later this spring.