Shortly after the Pixel 2 was released, Google announced that its two new smartphones had a dedicated chip built-in that would be used to handle specialized processes like the camera app’s HDR+ image processing. Weirdly, though, Google didn’t turn on this Pixel Visual Core when it shipped its flagship devices. Now, with Android 8.1 Developer Preview 2, the Pixel Visual Core can be enabled. Here’s how…

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How to enable the Pixel Visual Core’s HDR+ feature |

Although you would think that the Pixel Visual Core’s HDR+ feature would be enabled in the camera application’s settings, it must actually be turned on in the Developer options.

How to enable Developer options |

  1. Go to the Settings menu
  2. Scroll down and select System
  3. Go to the About phone section
  4. Locate the Build number and tap on it multiple times until it says Developer options has been enabled

How to enable the Pixel Visual Core’s HDR+ feature |

  1. Go to the Settings menu
  2. Scroll down and select System
  3. Tap on Developer options
  4. Make sure the Developer options is toggled on and scroll down until you find the Debugging subheading
  5. At the bottom of this section, locate Camera HAL HDR+ and toggle it on
  6. A pop-up will appear letting you know that you must now restart your smartphone before the Pixel Visual Core can begin working

With the Camera HAL HDR+ option turned on, when you take a picture, the custom chip will start handling the HDR+ image processing. Initially, we haven’t found any real improvements to the image quality or processing speed. Hopefully, we will see better battery performance with the Pixel Visual Core handling most of the work.

Learn more about Android 8.1 |


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