The update to Android Q Beta 6 for devices participating in the test program started rolling out today and appears to not only confirm recently spotted changes to the Google Pixel-specific camera app. It also appears to confirm suspicions about how the camera software will be updated.
After the update, Google Camera is bumped up to version 6.3. As spotted in the Google Camera app via a firmware leak reported last month, it also no longer prominently features a "Panorama" mode in the UI's primary mode-switching carousel.
Promotion of a feature but apparently only for Android Q
The change doesn't bring about any real alterations to the feature as that was spotted just under a month ago. Now, instead of the carousel's options reading "Panorama," "Portrait," "Camera," "Video," and "More," the first option has been replaced by "Night Sight" — Google's low-light enhancing camera mode. Panorama, as might be guessed from the change, has taken the place of Night Sight in the "More" menu.
The biggest difference seems to be that the promotion of Night Sight from a background feature to one that sits on the carousel is intrinsically linked to the Android Q update itself. At very least, the change is linked directly to the Beta release.
More succinctly, this doesn't appear to be a feature that's being made visible via an update from the Play Store. Now, that might mean that Google is actually stepping back from releasing its Pixel device-specific apps to the Play Store. The company began taking that approach to effectively all of its apps several updates back. The underlying goal was to get updates iterated more quickly.
A change to that approach had been speculated when the alteration to the Camera app was first made but hadn't been confirmed.
At the very least, the implication seems to be that Google won't be following that route with its in-house camera application anymore. Conversely, it may choose to hold off on releasing updates to the Play Store until after its next-generation smartphone, the Google Pixel 4, launches.
That device is expected to be announced in October at the search giant's annual hardware event, although the change won't necessarily be any more detailed following that.
Other changes implemented on the user-facing side with this update include the removal of tools for adjusting white balance and color temperatures, previously occupying the top bar. Now, users won't have access to a "flash" in the front-facing camera UI when in Portrait mode either. Instead, that's been given a screen brightening filter and associated slider dubbed "Illumination."
What's in Android Q Beta 6?
Regarding the rest of Android Q Beta 6, there aren't many new updates to discuss with the latest update to the beta program. That's because the sixth release is effectively the final test variant of the update, meaning that the software is all but finished. In fact, Google says that is only "a few weeks away" as of today — for Pixel handsets.
Summarily, most of the new additions to the firmware center around making gesture controls work better. Part of that includes a sensitivity preference setting for the "back" gesture, although that's only a portion of what's been tweaked for a smoother experience.
Behind the scenes, developers will now have access to the final API 29 SDK, system images for Pixel, Android Emulator and other development tools. So even though there aren't many big user-facing changes, the latest release should make everything better for end-users when Android Q finally does land since it will allow developers to prep their apps for the next version of Android.