Smartphone cameras have some serious constraints to overcome when it comes to image quality. For one thing, they have to coax images from smaller sensors and tiny lenses. But smartphone makers have their own advantages, including advanced hardware and AI-powered software that can deliver features traditional digital cameras simply can’t.
Apple used its advanced hardware and software to develop Portrait Lighting--a software tool to mimic the look of professional photographic lighting. Google is tapping it for more informative purposes in a feature dubbed Google Lens.
Lens is a new app that will be available in a preview on Google’s new Pixel 2 smartphone. It leverages Google’s progress in machine learning and image recognition to detect objects in a photo and provide information about them. As Frederic Lardinois writes, if you snap an image of a flower, Google Lens will tell you the type of flower you’ve just photographed alongside information about it. Objects like movie posters, artwork, landmarks, restaurants can also be recognized.
Lens will do more than just provide rich information about an image’s contents. If you photograph text, the Lens app will let you highlight and copy the text to extract it from an image. If you photograph a wireless router’s SSID and password, your phone will automatically connect to its network.
Beyond the Lens preview, Google’s Pixel 2 appears to be quite the camera phone. DxO Mark says it ranks highest of any smartphone they’ve tested for image quality, surpassing the iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.