Earlier today, we published an article detailing all the UI changes and new user-facing settings we could find in Google Camera 7.0 from the Google Pixel 4. This version of the Google Camera app was sent to us by our tipster, Hani (@HANI_4K), who obtained the APK from Vietnamese YouTuber ReLab. There are a lot of changes to the UI in the latest version of the Pixel camera app, but there’s also a ton of code that reveals the camera features of the Pixel 4.
Last weekend, we analyzed the latest publically available version of the Google Camera app, version 6.3, to reveal that Google has been working on several new features that we believed will be present on the 2019 Pixel smartphones. We found features like Audio Zoom, Live HDR, mesh warping to correct wide-angle selfie distortions, and possible Night Sight improvements. The leaked version 7.0 of the Google Camera app continues work on these features and corroborates their presence on the Pixel 4. The leaked APK also reveals work on several, previously undisclosed features, as well as a possible list of Pixel 4 camera features.
Motion Blur on the Pixel 4
Although it feels like an eternity ago, it was only last week when we first heard that the Pixel 4 will have a “Motion Mode” in the Google Camera app. According to a source speaking to 9to5Google, the new camera mode will be one of the Pixel 4’s headlining features. It’ll supposedly let you take shots of moving subjects in the foreground while blurring the background, perfect for photos of sporting events.
This “Motion Mode” feature hasn’t shown up in any of the recent leaks, but that’s likely because the feature is still hidden in the Google Camera app on the pre-release devices. We spotted a string for a new camera mode, though the string itself only lists the mode’s code-name: “paneer.”
For reference, Night Sight is called “cuttlefish” internally and Time Lapse is called “cheetah” internally. We’re not sure why the “paneer” code-name was chosen, but it’s clear that it’s for a new “Motion Blur” feature in the Google Camera app. It’s possible that “Motion Mode” is the marketing name for this “Motion Blur” feature.
Testing Zero Shutter Lag Night Sight and Astrophotography
9to5Google‘s source also claims that Google’s famous Night Sight feature, which uses computational photography algorithms to produce detailed images in low lighting conditions, will not only get faster but also will be capable of taking photos of the starry sky. A leaked promotional video corroborated the Pixel 4’s astrophotography capability, but the new Night Sight code we found in Google Camera 6.3 fell short of meeting our expectations. With Google Camera 7.0, however, we’re more confident that Night Sight will be improved on the Google Pixel 4. We spotted multiple flags in a dogfood configuration class that show how Google has been testing major improvements to Night Sight.
Whereas in the previous APK we only spotted a vague reference to Zero Shutter Lag for Night Sight (zsl_ns), the latest APK makes things quite clear. ZSL_NIGHT_SIGHT confirms that Google is testing a much faster Night Sight, likely for the Pixel 4. On the other hand, for astrophotography, Google will be using the GPU (the Adreno 640 in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855) to accelerate segmentation of the sky and then optimize the image by “finding” the stars and brightening them. Tripod detection has also seen improvements, as it now changes the shutter button to a stop button and adds the frame count to the middle as it counts down.
Live HDR, HDRNet, and Mesh Warping
During our teardown of Google Camera 6.3, we discovered references to a “Live HDR” mode that seemed like it was related to the “HDRNet” algorithm developed by MIT and Google researchers. This algorithm could be used to apply HDR in real-time to the camera viewfinder, and it may also be used to automatically retouch photos milliseconds after taking them. Mesh warping likely refers to a new technique developed by Google researchers to correct the distortion from wide-angle front-facing cameras. The presence of mesh warping in the Google Camera app lines up with the rumor that the Pixel 4 has a wide-angle front-facing camera.
We again spotted references to Live HDR, HDRNet, and mesh warping in Google Camera 7.0, though this time the references were less obfuscated. These features are limited to 2019 Pixel smartphones (excluding the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, since Google refers to the Pixel 3a line as “PIXEL_2019_MIDRANGE” in the code) as they require new camera libraries.
Audio Zoom on the Google Pixel 4
Some smartphones use their microphones to focus in on a major source of audio when the camera zooms in. LG and HTC have been doing this for several years now, and Samsung recently brought it back on the Galaxy Note 10 after getting rid of it a few generations back. The new Apple iPhone 11 also has its own Audio Zoom feature, so we’re not surprised that the Google Pixel 4 is also likely shipping with the feature. After all, Google did acquire much of HTC’s IP and talent. The config for the 2019 Pixel lists “AUDIO_ZOOM_SUPPORTED” as true, so it’ll likely launch on the Pixel 4.
Dynamic Depth Format Support
Android 10 adds support for a new file schema called Dynamic Depth Format (DDF). According to Google, DDF files contain the depth data for photos, allowing apps to use the data to change the blur in post-processing without touching the original image. The Pixel 4 camera configuration lists “EMBED_DYNAMIC_DEPTH_REAR” and “EMBED_DYNAMIC_DEPTH_FRONT” as both true, indicating that the devices will support saving the depth data as a DDF file. For what it’s worth, we also noticed that the Google Photos app is testing support for handling the Dynamic Depth Format.
Possible Photobooth Integration with Playground AR Stickers
Photobooth is a Google Camera feature introduced on the Google Pixel 3. The feature automatically takes photos when it detects smiles or funny faces in the frame. Although we don’t exactly know what kinds of improvements will be made to the feature, it looks like Google might introduce some under-the-hood changes. Throughout the code, we spotted checks to see if “Photobooth2019” is supported, in comparison to just “Photobooth,” meaning that this is an update to the existing Photobooth feature.
One method in particular checks to see if the “com.google.vr.apps.ornament.funshot.activity.FunshotActivity” Activity is found on the device before activating “Photobooth2019.” This Activity does not exist on a Pixel 2 XL or Pixel 3 XL running Android 10. Given that “com.google.vr.apps.ornament” is the package name for Playground (formerly called AR Stickers), it’s possible that we’ll see some AR sticker integration with Photobooth. Since rebranding the feature to Playground, Google made AR stickers more expressive and interactive, however, we don’t know if the upgraded Photobooth will snap photos based on the expressions of AR characters.
Measure Mode, Rewind Mode, and “Rocky”
Back in April, we spotted evidence that Google was preparing to integrate its ARCore-powered augmented reality measurement app, Measure, into the Google Camera app. Code for this feature still exists in Google Camera 7.0, but it’s unclear if Google plans to launch it with the Pixel 4.
Next, the past few versions of the Google Camera app have hinted at a Rewind Mode code-named “McFly” (after the Back to the Future protagonist.) We aren’t too certain about how it works; all we really know for sure is that its icon is a rewind symbol.
Another feature that’s even more unknown to us is “rocky.” We spotted references to it in ViewfinderEffectElement and in the “MultiCropModule,” but we don’t know what it’s supposed to do yet.
All the Google Pixel 4 Camera Features, According to Google Camera Config
Lastly, the dogfood configuration class lists basically all the camera features for the Google Pixel 4. There are also arguments listing the updated camera configurations for the 2016, 2017, 2018, and mid-2019 Pixels, but for brevity, we’ll stick to just the new devices. The camera config suggests the following is true:
- The Google Pixel 4 supports Audio Zoom
- The Google Pixel 4 supports saving depth data using the new Dynamic Depth Format (DDF)
- The Pixel 4 has a telephoto lens (a finding that has been corroborated numerous times.)
- The devices support longer exposure times in Night Sight.
- The devices support the HDRNet algorithm.
- Google Lens suggestions can detect and recommend document scanning (there is indeed a string for a new “scan document” suggestion chip.)
…among other things. In comparison, the list of features supported by the 2018 Pixel 3 is much shorter.
Bonus: The Mysterious 2019 Pixel “Needlefish” Re-emerges
Back in April, a comment in the AOSP Gerrit mentioned code-names that were believed to belong to the 2019 Pixel smartphones. In a twist, 3 – not 2 – code-names were mentioned: “coral,” “flame,” and “needlefish.” We now know that “flame” is the smaller Pixel 4 while “coral” is the larger Pixel 4 XL, but we haven’t seen a reference to “needlefish” since April nor have we seen evidence that Google is working on a third Pixel for late 2019. Well, “needlefish” is back, and we’re still as confused as we were in April.
The “DeviceProperties” class in Google Camera 7.0 differentiates between the Pixel devices so the right camera configuration can be loaded. We noticed that alongside “coral” and “flame” in isPixel2019() is “needlefish,” indicating that it’s indeed a 2019 Pixel. However, the mystery remains as to what it might actually be. A test device? A code-name like “wahoo” for the unified kernel? Who knows. There’s little to no evidence pointing to the existence of another 2019 Pixel besides the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, so this is one mystery we’ll have to table for now.
That’s all we dug up from the leaked Google Camera 7.0 build from the pre-release Pixel 4. If we learn more about either 2019 Pixel, we’ll try to let you know even though these leaks are becoming exhausting to keep up with.
Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.
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