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Pixel 3a adds Playground ‘Selfie mode’ for front-facing Playmoji

The most obvious photography difference between the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a is the front-facing camera. An update to Playground this week adds a “Selfie mode” for AR Playmoji on Google’s mid-range Pixel phone.

As we noted in May, Playground mode in Google Camera lacks a bottom-left button to switch to the Pixel 3a’s front facer. Animated characters from Marvel’s Avengers, Star Wars, Detective Pikachu, and Childish Gambino cannot be overlaid when taking a selfie.

Playground 2.6 adds that Playground button in “Selfie mode” on the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL, with an introductory prompt highlighting that new feature after installing the update.

On the front camera, Playmoji characters leverage machine learning to respond to your activity and motions. For example, Iron Man will give a thumbs-up when you do in the Avengers pack.

The Pixel 3a’s Playmoji Selfie mode brings the phone in line with the original Pixel, Pixel 2, and Pixel 3. Google likely needed more time to bring over and optimize the feature following the mid-range phone’s launch in May. All other imaging capabilities were ready at launch.

This update makes one other minor tweak to Playground. Accessed via the “More” tab, tapping stickers to the left of the shutter slides up a panel with four tabs: Recent, Featured, Playmoji, and Stickers. In the last one, the animations are now displayed against a white square background to make sure there is no conflict with the dark sheet.

Playground 2.6 with Selfie mode for the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL is rolling out now via the Play Store.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: