Google Camera Go brings Portrait Mode photography to budget Android Go smartphones
Earlier today, HMD Global announced a trio of new smartphones: the Nokia 8.3, the Nokia 5.3, and Nokia 1.3. While the Nokia 8.3 and Nokia 5.3 run regular Android 10 with a handful of HMD Global’s customizations on top, the Nokia 1.3 runs Android 10 (Go Edition), a special version of Android that’s optimized for budget smartphones with a weaker processor and lower RAM capacity. Although the Nokia 1.3 has the low-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 215 and only a single 8MP rear camera, the Nokia 1.3 can actually take portrait mode shots. That’s because the Nokia 1.3 has the new Google Camera Go app, a stripped-down version of the Pixel’s camera app for Android Go devices.
The typical Android Go device only has a single rear-facing camera, a low-end SoC, and other hardware compromises in order to bring the price down to the sub-$100 mark. Because of these design and hardware choices, Android Go devices are wildly popular in emerging markets around the world; in fact, Google says there are now over 100 million active Android Go devices. However, the camera experience is usually very limited on these budget smartphones because of the low-end SoC and lack of additional cameras. That’s where the Google Camera Go app comes in.
Google is leveraging its machine learning prowess to bring portrait mode photography to the masses with the Camera Go app. The app can apply depth-of-field effects using only software. The app is “deeply integrated” into the OS, meaning it’s “not just photo filtering on top,” according to Arpit Midha, a lead product manager for Android. According to The Verge, Camera Go even tracks device storage to suggest ways to clear up space if the remaining storage space is running low.
Camera Go is currently only available on the newly announced Nokia 1.3, but we can expect it to arrive on future Android Go devices. By enabling portrait mode on Android Go devices with Camera Go, Google is democratizing portrait mode photography.