Google Focuses On Not Repeating Mistakes With Pixel 4 Camera


Googlers are putting a sharp focus this year on improving camera performance with the Pixel 4 to avoid problems experienced with the Pixel 3. That's according to recently reported leaked documentation — now taken down — detailing efforts across teams working on the project. Associated with Google Photos, the document highlighted how poor performance takes away from consumer trust.

As a result, that's one of the highest priorities for the company with the upcoming flagship smartphone. That's an effort that stretches across the "Android system" and "performance" teams well beyond the core Camera team. The result is Googlers across the Pixel 4 development spectrum "people actively investigating all issues" as they arise.

Among the more prominent problems recorded seems to center around the fact that the camera sometimes launches slowly. Rather than depending on simple notes to combat the issue, a special page was created, shown to testers who experience a slow launch during startup.


The page tells those testers how to capture a system trace. It also informs them of how to send a bug report with that information in order to help other teams work in tandem to fix the problem. The overall goal, as of that documentation's authorship, was to get launch time down below two seconds.

Other noteworthy findings on the Pixel 4

Several other new tools have been discovered associated with the Pixel 4 software alongside documentation about Camera app performance improvements too. Most notably, there now appears to be details about one previously spotted feature and a couple of applications that could be new.

The first is a feature called Rules, which appears in the Settings application. Expected as part of Android 10, Rules allows users to set up their sound mode to change based on parameters such as Wi-Fi connection or geolocation data. For example, a user could feasibly use the tool to set their phone on silent while at the office or connected to their work Wi-Fi.


An application called "Recall" has also been spotted in the mix as well as another app called "Volta."

It's unclear whether the two apps are internal apps used only for testing or for release alongside the Pixel 4. It also isn't clear exactly what "Volta" is. The app does share its name with a Google initiative intended to help analyze and improve battery life. But that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't just used by Googlers to accomplish that during testing.

The Recall app is very obviously a recording tool. In the screenshots, the app is shown with a microphone in the notification shade on the Recall panel. Words filling in that card read "Recall is recording." So that could be a screen recording tool or a voice note-taking application.


Will Pixel 4 camera performance improvements be ready in a month?

The launch date for the Pixel 4 has now been confirmed as October 15. That's when Google will be hosting its annual hardware conference in New York City.

Typically, the search giant has held its hardware event closer to the beginning of the month — most recently on October 4. The shift in dates could be the result of any number of things. It isn't entirely unlikely the date was moved, at least partially, to give the team more time on the camera. More directly, that would be time spent on getting the camera right the first time.

With Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, Google encountered Camera app problems almost immediately. That included everything from a crashing camera to photos not saving correctly to crashing the phone itself. Google wasn't able to quickly apply fixes to all of the issues, although it eventually did. Because of that, the phone went from a must-have item to something of a pariah very quickly.


With luck, the extra time will be enough to avoid camera problems entirely at the launch of the Pixel 4.