Google developed its own mobile chip to help smartphones take better photos

 Google originally turned off the Pixel Visual Core for everything except the stock camera app, but now the company is turning it on for use, even with outside applications. Developers can check out the open source documents here, and users will likely notice more color and range out of photos from other apps going forward. The update is part of this month’s Android update and will go into effect once you download it.

Back in the film photography days, different films produced distinct “looks”—say, light and airy or rich and contrasty. An experienced photographer could look at a shot and guess what kind of film it was on by looking at things like color, contrast, and grain. We don’t think about this much in the digital age; instead, we tend to think of raw digital files as neutral attempts to recreate what our eyeballs see. But, the reality is that smartphone cameras have intense amounts of processing work happening in the background. Engineers are responsible for guiding that tech to uphold an aesthetic. The new Google Pixel 2 phone uses unique algorithms and a dedicated image processor to give it its signature style.

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