[Update: Rolling Out] The Google Pixel 3a will get Playground support in the front camera in a few weeks
The Google Pixel 3a hosts a camera performance equivalent to the flagship Pixel 3 but with a few compromises in areas such as the material of construction, a duller display, a lower-powered processor, and a single front camera. We’ve seen in our initial impressions of the Pixel 3a that the while the smartphone matches up to the Pixel 3 in almost all respects when it comes to the rear camera – in spite of its lack of the Pixel Visual Core chipset – it falls behind significantly in terms of the front camera.
One of the features that the Pixel 3a borrows from the more premium Pixel 3/3XL is Playground inside the Camera app. In this mode, you can drop animated AR characters – called Playmoji – from popular franchises like Star Wars, Marvel Avengers, or Stranger Things onto the canvas and make them perform certain actions so they look realistic. The feature is currently limited to the Google Pixel devices but there’s a catch in the case of the Pixel 3a. On the smartphone, the button to switch from the rear camera to the selfie camera in the Playground features is not available, which simply means that the feature is currently restricted to the rear camera.
While the exact season for this missing feature is not clear, it may be attributed to the mediocre front camera on the Pixel 3a, especially the lack of autofocus capabilities on this module. This single-camera also produces lower details and captures lesser light compared to the Pixel 3. Despite this, Google’s Product Manager Soniya Jobanputra reportedly said during an interview after the Google I/O 2019 keynote that the product team has “optimized every last aspect of the camera features to get to work” on the affordable Pixel.
In line with this, 9to5Google reports that we will get to play with Playmoji using the Pixel 3a’s front camera as Google is working to bring it in the “coming weeks.” We don’t know exactly when but we’ll be sure to update you when the feature arrives.
Update: Rolling Out
Playground support for the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL front camera is rolling out now. Version 2.6 adds the Playmoji button to the Google Camera in selfie mode. Tap the button and you’ll see the usual array of stickers and animated emoji to insert into your front camera photos and videos.