Google Camera update may let you take Astrophotography time-lapses
After Google launched the Pixel 4 series in 2019, the company started to regularly release new software features in what’s called a “Pixel Feature Drop.” The first such release happened in December of 2019, while the most recent one happened in the beginning of March 2021. We’re expecting the next Pixel Feature Drop to land on June 7th — the first Monday of this month — alongside the June 2021 security patches. Ahead of the release, Google has pushed a new update to its Pixel Tips app, the app that educates Pixel owners about new features. While the update doesn’t reveal much info about the upcoming Pixel Feature Drop, it does drop a hint at a possible new feature coming to the Google Camera app: astrophotography time-lapses.
Version 188.8.131.523287606 of the Pixel Tips app rolled out today on the Google Play Store, and after decompiling it, we discovered a new class called “CameraAstrotimelapseSettingController.” If the installed version of the Google Camera app is version 8.2.3 or higher (the latest publicly available version is 8.2.204), then the Pixel Tips app will surface the “CameraAstrotimelapse” tip. We don’t have access to version 8.2.3 of the Google Camera app nor do we have access to the assets for this new “CameraAstrotimelapse” tip, but we’re guessing based on the name and the version check that this feature is coming to the next Google Camera release.
As for how it’ll work, it’ll probably be pretty straightforward. The Google Camera app will likely be able to automatically take an astrophotography shot every couple of minutes for a set amount of time (eg. 1-2 hours). This will let you capture a moving shot of the starry sky. Currently, astrophotography can capture a single image of the starry sky after exposing for a maximum of 4 minutes.
Astrophotography is available in the Google Camera app on the Pixel 3 and later, though it doesn’t support the wide-angle lens on the Pixel 4a 5G or Pixel 5. Time-lapse, on the other hand, has been available on Pixel phones for a bit longer than astrophotography, though it’s a pretty straightforward feature you’ll find in a bunch of other camera apps. Google put a lot of effort into developing astrophotography, so it’d be nice to see it become more useful by combining it with the time-lapse mode.
Another class added to the latest Pixel Tips release is called “CameraLockedFolderSettingController”, but this is likely related to the “safe folder” feature that Google announced back at I/O 2021.
Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.