Google Activates Pixel Visual Core For Pixel 2 HDR+ Photos In Third-Party Apps

We've known since the Google Pixel 2 smartphone launched that it had a dedicated imaging chip lurking inside that allows the camera to take HDR+ quality pictures when using the main photo app. Since the smartphone launched, that image processor has been just out of reach for third-party apps, but Google has finally activated the Pixel Visual Core. This means that Pixel 2 users can soon take images with HDR+ quality using apps like Instagram and Snapchat.


If you aren’t familiar with the Pixel Visual Core, the imaging chip uses computational photography and machine learning to improve image quality. Pixel Visual Core can now make images taken in those third-party apps brighter, more detailed, and clearer. The image below is a before and after shot with Pixel Visual Core off (left) and on (right).

pixel2 hdr

The improved imaging will be rolling out over the next few days and for starters, the partner apps that will be able to use the processor include Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp. You can bet other image-heavy third-party apps will be taking advantage of Pixel Visual Core in the future.

Google said of Pixel Visual Core, "Pixel Visual Core is built to do heavy-lifting image processing while using less power, which saves battery. That means we’re able to use that additional computing power to improve the quality of your pictures by running the HDR+ algorithm."

An update for Android is required to activate the processor so be on the lookout for that. That update will also bring with it some new winter sports-themed augmented reality stickers just in time for the Winter Olympics.