The biggest advantage of Pixel ownership, outside Google's highly optimized software experience, is the camera. Pixels have been consistently near or at the top of the pack when it comes to photo quality, and in no small part that's because of that Google software. A camera is more than just hardware, image processing can be as (or more) important than simply having a good sensor, and Google has included plenty of camera improvements this year. Let's take a look.
Adobe Photoshop Express is one of the more popular photo editors on Android. It recently passed 100 million downloads from the Play Store, leaving competitors like VSCO and Snapseed in the dust. The app has also picked up a few new tricks, including that most important of photo-editing features: stickers.
Google Photos version 3.23 just started making the rounds, but there doesn't appear to be anything immediately changing with the update. However, the traditional clues about upcoming features are certainly there to be seen. We can look forward to applying some of those smooth bokeh effects of portrait mode, and this time, we'll control the intensity of the blur. There will also be a new option to downgrade your already backed-up photos to high quality so you can get back some of that cloud storage. I've also included a couple of other teardown sections for earlier versions that were slated to appear in the next Update Notes post, but this is the better place for them.
While we await the imminent rollout of the screen sharing feature we've been watching for a fewmonths, a new version of Duo is rolling out with even more clues about upcoming changes. There haven't been any immediately obvious changes going live in this update, but a teardown points to a couple of enhancements. The first will be read receipts for video and audio messages sent through Duo. The second set of clues points to three different levels for the upcoming bokeh effect.
The Portrait mode on the new Pixel 2 phones is impressive. With just a single camera, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are able to mimic a convincing depth of field effect, like that created by much larger hardware. It isn't quite as good as an SLR, but it's a reasonable approximation. And if you were interested in exactly how it works, we've put together an explanation.
Google is imbuing the Street View app with some clever new features in its latest update. This version adds automatic face detection for 360 photos for quick blurring, groups together unpublished 360 photos by place or time, and adds a share link to user profiles. Additionally, a teardown shows that there's a new feature on the way that will clue in ambitious users about nearby places that should be photographed.
Unpublished 360 photos will now group together based on place or time.
Automatically detect faces for blurs in 360 photos.
There's a fresh update to Street View rolling out today and it has a little something for everyone. Counting among the changes in this release, there's a new satellite mode and a toggle for photographers to market themselves for work. A few visuals have been tweaked, including a better-looking search results screen. And a teardown item lets us know that the developers are planning a cool little feature that can take care of blurring out faces before uploading photos for the public to see.
For many of us, the Street View name is linked to a convenient way to look around at places we haven't been, whether it's just an address we're about to drive to or one of the world's greatest mountains. We don't usually associate it with making money, but a lot of businesses have started investing in virtual tours to attract more customers. For a few years, Google has been working to help businesses pair up with independent photographers and agencies to capture scenery for potential visitors. The interface for this was entirely web based, but now it looks like some of the operations will soon become available through the Street View app itself.
Here's a surprise for you. For once we're not talking about a photo editing app that has come to Android after being available on iOS for months or worse yet, years. How novel! Overam is the name of said app and it's being released on Android first (maybe only?).
While Overam does offer the usual panoply of filters, its selling point is the usage of geometric shapes to create a disconnect between two parts of the image and highlight the one you want. You start with one of 200+ geometric shapes ranging from the simple to the most complex, pick one of the 5 different blur effects included, add a filter if you want to (including dual filters that only apply to part of the image), and you can save your photo locally, share it, or go on to make another edit on top of it.
Developer Klinker Apps, the folks behind the Talon Twitter client and the EvolveSMS messaging app, have just released Blur, a free launcher replacement that takes the approach introduced by the Google Now Launcher and opens it up to other apps. With Blur, any app that adds on support for the launcher can have its own dedicated page that rests right on a person's homescreen. In practice, this means users can swipe to the left to access their Twitter feed, text messages, a basic calculator, or a dedicated Google Now page that the Klinker brothers MacGyvered to imitate the GNL. More pages are hopefully on the way.