Google shown to be arbitrarily limiting new Pro camera controls to the Pixel 8 Pro

Google's new Pro controls running on a Pixel 6 Pro. (Image source: Mishaal Rahman)
Google’s new Pro controls running on a Pixel 6 Pro. (Image source: Mishaal Rahman)

Google may have brought manual camera controls to its stock camera app, but it limits their usage to just the Pixel 8 Pro. It turns out that this is nothing more than a software restriction, with the Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro also shown to be capable of offering manual ISO, shutter speed and focus options within the latest version of the Google Camera app.

Google has finally introduced more manual camera options within its stock camera app, starting with Google Camera 9.x builds. While the company limits its ‘Pro mode’ to the Pixel 8 Pro, Kamila Wojciechowska and Mishaal Rahman have already demonstrated that this is merely an artificial software lock. For reference, Google’s Pro controls include options for adjusting shutter speed and ISO, as well as focus peaking.

Based on Wojciechowska and Rahman’s findings, there appear to be no technical restrictions that would prevent these features from being available on older Pixel smartphones. Currently, Wojciechowska has shown the features working on a Pixel 7 Pro, which has different primary and ultra-wide-angle cameras compared to the Pixel 8 Pro. Although the features appear to function as expected, there are some hardware restrictions, like an 8-second maximum shutter speed for the Pixel 7 Pro. In comparison, the Pixel 8 Pro can keep its shutter open for up to 16 seconds.

Likewise, Pro controls also work on the Pixel 6 Pro. With that being said, there are some caveats. Writing on Twitter, Rahman outlined that the features require a modified version of Google Camera 9.1 to appear. Thus, a rooted device is necessary too, otherwise it will be impossible to install a modified APK. Wojciechowska has no intentions of releasing the modified APK either. However, Rahman expects GCam modders to integrate Google’s Pro controls within their builds soon enough.

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Alex Alderson, 2023-10- 9 (Update: 2023-10- 9)

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