What is Google Pocket Operator?

Google Pocket Operator app
(Image credit: Google screenshots)

What is Google Pocket Operator?

Best answer: Google Pocket Operator is an app that can be used as a fun way to mix and adjust recorded videos in a more musical way. The app, which works with Pixel 5 and newer devices, uses the Teenage Engineering approach, the company behind the popular OP-1 synthesizer and instant cameras. The process takes a video file and, using AI algorithms, divides it up into categorized slices, with a specific icon representing each one.

What kinds of things can you do in Google Pocket Operator?

Why you can trust Android Central Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Google Pocket Operator has some neat features to make fun and creative videos that are musical, set to beats, with various effects, and more. Keep in mind that there’s a bit of a learning curve so you’d be wise to look through some of the readily available online tutorials (check sites like YouTube). 

There’s a short tutorial when you first download and open the app that will give you a quick idea of which buttons do what, but you’ll likely need some more guidance. Once you get the hang of it, however, you’ll be creating like a pro. 

First, download the free app to a compatible Google Pixel phone, including the new Google Pixel 7. You effectively begin with four video tracks and can build patterns of up to 16 beats. The app works by using the Pixel phone’s video camera as a sampling tool and Google’s TensorFlow machine learning to analyze the samples and place them in categories. It detects pitch in a recorded video (you making a funny sound, for example) and creates a sample of it on a grid using the song key you select. 

Then, using step sequencing, you can create patterns, make the sound play on a loop, and link sounds together to create different sections of a song. There are options to add things like drum beats and other sample sounds, slowly turning your seemingly insignificant sounds into audio and musical masterpieces. 

Finish the process by layering effects to alter both the audio and the video. The process does not override your original video, and you can remove and add layers and effects as desired to tweak the clip until it’s perfect for sharing.

Outlining some of the basic features of Google Pocket Operator

Google Pocket Operator app

(Image credit: Christine Persaud / Android Central)

You’ll find tons of unlabeled buttons and options within the Google Pocket Operator app, which is all about discovery: the more you play around with it, the more unique features you’ll discover. But there are a few details about some icons and other worthwhile things to note to get you started. 

Squiggly arrow: This icon at the top is what you select to start a video recording and add it to the app. You can create a new one or upload one from your phone’s library. You’ll need to grant the app access to your photos, videos, music, and audio. 

Swiping on the top screen: The top portion of the screen where your video still shows can be swiped to the left to open up other menus. These include Patterns, Mixer, Tempo, and Slices. It’s worth experimenting with these to see how you can alter your video further. 

Tracks: At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see Track icons 1, 2, 3, 4. You can toggle among these to create different tracks for the recording and layer these on top of one another. 

FX: To the right of the Tracks is the FX button, which is where you can go to add fun videos and additional audio effects to finish things off. 

Settings: The small Settings “cog wheel” icon at the top, right will let you view and automatically save the project.   

Why would you want to use Google Pocket Operator?

People love using Google Pocket Operator to create fun clips to share on social media, to add to personal music videos, and to liven up presentations. It’s also downright fun to use, and will help get those creative juices flowing, particularly for those who are looking at more unique ways to create content. 

While Google Pocket Operator isn’t necessarily just for musicians, it may rank among the best Android apps for musicians who can use it to test beats, sequences, patterns, and other concepts they might have for their music. 

As noted, there’s a pretty big learning curve with Google Pocket Operator, so it’s advisable to download and play around with it when you have the time to experiment. Consider, also first dedicating some time to watching an informative tutorial online.

Christine Persaud

Christine Persaud has been writing about tech since long before the smartphone was even a "thing." When she isn't writing, she's working on her latest fitness program, binging a new TV series, tinkering with tech gadgets she's reviewing, or spending time with family and friends. A self-professed TV nerd, lover of red wine, and passionate home cook, she's immersed in tech in every facet of her life. Follow her at @christineTechCA.