Hands-on with Google Camera 8.0 from the Google Pixel 5
Google Camera offers one of the greatest experiences when it comes to smartphone photography. Even though the camera hardware has remained unchanged for several generations of Pixel smartphones, each new device gets new and exciting software features. With the recent launch of the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G, Google introduced several new Camera features such as the Night Sight portrait mode, Cinematic pan, and more. While these features will be exclusive to these two devices, Google is bringing the updated Google Camera 8.0 app to the Pixel 5 with subtle visual changes and a bunch of new features. Following the Pixel 5, the updated version of the Camera app will be made available for the older Pixel devices.
This article highlights some of the new features that the latest Google Camera 8.0 brings to Pixel devices. Along with a major revamp of the user interface, the new Camera app comes with many subtle changes meant to improve its usability. Towards the end, you can also find a link to the article that elaborates on how to install Google Camera 8.0 on older Pixel devices. Let’s take a look at these changes!
Hands-on with Google Camera 8.0
The Google Camera UI gets a number of new visual features with version 8.0 that set it apart from v7.5 or the older ones. The most evident of these changes is the new shutter button along, less dense icons, and a gray accent to highlight the text for the current mode.
Another pronounced feature in Google Camera 8.0 is the quick toggle for zoom. Using this toggle, you can easily switch between 1x and 2x zoom in the Camera, Video, and Night Sight modes, and between 1x and 1.3x when in Portrait mode. Notably, in the previous versions of the Camera app, the portrait mode would only allow you to capture images at 1.3x but you can now choose a wider view with the new update. Likewise, for the front camera, you can switch quickly between 1x and 1.4x zoom in all the three modes except Portrait mode, wherein the options include 1x and 1.2x zoom.
Irrespective of whether you’re using the rear or the front camera, you long-press on the zoom toggle to activate a slider that allows you to zoom in or out by scrubbing left or right.
Quick access for video modes
Modes such as Slow motion and time-lapse can be easily accessed directly from the video mode. In addition to switching to these modes, you can also modify the settings per mode — ie choose between 120fps and 240fps slow-motion recording or change the speed of the timelapse video.
New icon for recording
Other minor changes include the new recording icon as you can see in the images below:
Cues for better images
Lastly, the Google Camera also helps you with various cues, like describing the utility of a specific setting or suggesting better angles or modes that will help you click better pictures.
Face retouching disabled by default
Citing how artificially altered and enhanced images can have a negative impact on the psychology of users by setting unrealistic beauty standards, Google recently announced its decision to keep the Face Retouching off by default. These changes are now live with Google Camera 8.0. In addition, Google also includes images of a variety of users of different ages and facial features so that users can compare how these filters work.
Alongside the new visual improvements, Google has added a second leveler in the Camera 8.0 app to implement a three-dimensional perception. Now, complementing the classic rotation leveler that is white in color, the camera app shows a yellow leveler to represent when the forward or backward lean. This helps users avoid any unwanted tilting that may lead to perspective issues. Here’s a demo:
Furthermore, when the smartphone is parallel to the ground, ie either facing directly upwards or downwards, the vertical lines are replaced by crosshairs so it is easy for the users to perceive how to tilt the smartphone while taking pictures of the ground or the sky.
Super Res Zoom improved
The new Google Camera also brings improvements in Super Res Zoom — a feature used to improve the quality and sharpness of images with AI, exclusively on the Pixel smartphones. The improvements, however, are limited to the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G. Thanks to some device spoofing, XDA Senior Member cstark27 was able to force the new Super Res Zoom algorithm to work on his Pixel 4 XL so he could visually demonstrate these improvements. Here are some sample photos that he provided:
Social share on Video mode
Just like for photos in the previous versions, Google Camera 8.0 now allows users to share videos instantly to up to three apps via Social Share. You cannot, however, choose the three designated apps for videos and photos separately.
Sideloading Google Camera 8.0 on the Pixel 4 brings Audio Zoom, a feature that “boosts sound and reduces background noise” when “zooming in on [a] subject.” Of course, this feature is also available on the Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5.
Download Google Camera 8.0 on older Pixel phones
Google Camera 8.0 is officially available on only the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G at this moment. But if you have an older Pixel phone running Android 11, you can check our guide on how to download and install the Google Camera 8.0 on your device. If you’re interested in seeing sample photos from Google Camera 8.0 on the Pixel 5, check out our review here.