Astrophotography on Google PixelSource: Google

What you need to know

  • The latest Google Camera port from developer cstark27 brings new Pixel 4 camera features to all older-generation Pixel phones.
  • This app is a free download and only requires a simple installation in Android; no coding or hackery needed.
  • Among the new modes are astrophotography, for unparalleled night mode shots, and Super Res Zoom, for enhanced pinch-to-zoom quality.

Google's Pixels are world-renowned for their camera prowess, particularly when it comes to taking photos. Typically, the newest features are only available on the latest hardware, citing more powerful hardware or additional cameras as the reason for the restriction. Google tends to stick to its software guns with just about everything, though, and that ends up paying off quite nicely for folks who like to hold on to their phones for a little bit longer than a year or two.

Google's camera software has been lauded for its abilities to work miracles on even the lowest-end hardware that developers can port it to, and XDA Developers' user cstark27 has been able to port Google's latest Camera 7.2 all the way back to the original Pixel. You'll find that free download here, and it's as easy as clicking 'install' and opening up the new modified Google Camera app.

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Check out our extensive photography comparison between the iPhone 11 and the Pixel 4, which showcases the incredible night mode abilities of Google's latest Pixel and its accompanying software to get an idea of what you're in store for.

This latest modded version of Google Camera brings about significant enhancements for all four generations of Google Pixel devices, including:

  • Enable Astro mode for Pixel 1 & 2
  • Enable Focus options in Night Sight (along with "infinity" - may be same as far)
  • Modded lib for Learned Depth in Portrait Mode (Pixel 2)
  • Enable Super Res Zoom while zoomed or in Night Sight (no zoom required) - this is like Pixel 3 stock
  • Enable auto timer (photobooth), it's in the selfie camera in the Timer options
  • Enable synthetic fill flash for Pixel 2 and enable SFF in Camera mode for 3a

That's an astounding list of upgrades for any older phone, and the best two are wrapped up in Super Res Zoom and Astrophotography. Super Res Zoom enhances that pinch-to-zoom functionality by adding in a bit of machine learning to the mix, making it feel more like you have an optical zoom lens on the back of your Pixel 1, 2, or 3. Astrophotography has been all the rage on social media lately, and you won't have to look far to see some amazing examples of what this mode can do. Expect this mod to come to other phones, eventually, but the list of features will differ for each phone it may get ported to.

No modding required

Google Pixel 4

The best photos

If you're a Pixel owner, you already know Google's cameras are among the best in any phone generation. The Pixel 4 is no exception, adding in a second camera on the back for enhanced zoom up to 8x, superb new low light shooting abilities, and even a suite of facial recognition cameras up front for hassle-free secure biometric authentication.