Meet Gcam, The Software Secret to the Pixel’s Camera Performance

Meet Gcam, The Software Secret to the Pixel’s Camera Performance

The Google Pixel and the Google Pixel XL are best known as Google’s flagship for the year 2016. With these devices, Google exerted greater control over the hardware and created an experience that found wide acceptance among critics and users alike. Our review of the Google Pixel XL also praised Google’s efforts and recognized the camera performance that Google nailed down.

The camera on the Pixels forms one of the better aspects of the device. The 12.3MP rear camera captures a high level of detail under a variety of lighting conditions, including low light and indoor lighting conditions.


As they say, Rome was not built in a day. And so was the case with the camera performance on the Pixels. As detailed in The Graduate series from Alphabet’s X facility, the camera performance of the Pixels can be traced as far back as the development cycle of Google Glass. Meet Gcam, the software that has been powering the camera performance on several Google products and has achieved great success.

Gcam began in 2011 as a solution to fitting a decent camera experience within Google Glass. As Glass needed to be light and wearable, Google could not approach the problem from the hardware end. So the team at Gcam looked at applying computational photography techniques on the software end to compensate, and even go up on hardware limitations.

Early Google Glass Prototype

Gcam’s solution came in the form of image fusion, a method which took rapid sequences of shots and fused them together to create a single, higher quality image. Image fusion debuted in Glass in 2013, and the success of the method prompted Gcam to bring the next iteration of image fusion to smartphones in the form of HDR+ on the Nexus 5.

Gcam’s HDR+ mode is now available as the default mode for shooting photos on the Google Pixel and Pixel XL.

In the future, the team at Gcam is exploring the possibilities of what they can do next. One among the several possibilities is merging Google’s machine learning resources with photography, allowing us to make better use of the hardware on our smartphones.

Read the full article over at The X Company Blog.

What are your thoughts on Gcam and HDR+? Where does the future of photography lie? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

About author

Aamir Siddiqui
Aamir Siddiqui

A journalist at XDA-Developers and the current Editor in Chief, I have been writing for XDA since 2015, despite being a qualified business-litigation lawyer. A low-end smartphone purchase in 2011 brought me to the forums, and it's been a journey filled with custom ROMs ever since. When not fully dipped in smartphone news and tutorials, I love traveling to places just to capture pictures of the sun setting. You can reach out to me at [email protected] And my Twitter is @aamirsidd94.

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