Regardless of sensor quality, artificial intelligence is the battleground for the best phone camera — and Google is the undisputed king of AI.
The first is Top Shot. Think about this as a supercharged version of Motion Photos, which uses photos rather than video. When you activate the camera, the Pixel 3 will automatically record burst of frames before and after clicking on the shutter button. Then, a much smarter AI will make a selection from all shots to give you the very best image possible, using parameters like smiles, open eyes, or your dog looking at the camera.
It’s similar to the technology used by Google Clips.
The next feature is called Photobooth, which also uses Google Clips technology to take photos in selfie mode. You just have to turn this feature on and the phone will be the one deciding when to take the photo automagically based on several parameters, like smiles, people looking at the camera, funny faces, winking, and whatever the AI thinks is good photo material.
The software will let you choose amongst all the photos taken during a Photobooth session.
A more nebulous feature is Super Res Zoom, which is supposed to use artificial intelligence to create high-quality zoomed photos without using telephoto lenses. It may work like Huawei’s phones AI zoom mode, which uses multiple shots to create a much higher resolution, crisper version of an image while using digital zoom.
The front of the Pixel 3 will reportedly have a secondary sensor with a wide angle lens. 9to5Google claims that this sensor will be used to capture selfies that have more of the background, hopefully avoiding selfie sticks. The site claims that Google considered calling this feature Super Selfies.
The AI will also be used for Subject Tracking Auto Focus: Basically, the software will track people in photos, adjusting the focus dynamically to get the clearest shot possible without user intervention.
And lastly — but not less importantly in light of the iPhone Xs always-on beautification mode — is a feature that is making a comeback this year: Face Retouching. Unlike Apple’s AI, however, users will be able to choose between three settings to make their skin smoother: Normal for a bit of retouch, Soft for an increased beauty shot look, and Disabled to turn it off completely.