More powerful cameras key to smartphone success, says Google manager

Taking photos is one of the “most important” parts of using a smartphone, a Google senior manager has said, saying the firm must make devices to allow people to “better capture and reminisce” with their pictures.

Navin Sarma said Google wanted its Pixel range of devices to take advantage of technology to bring more complex photo-taking and editing tools to “everyday users” in an accessible way.

Pixel smartphones have been commended by industry experts for their photography tools, including a feature called Magic Eraser – first introduced with the flagship Pixel 6 last year – which enables users to remove distracting objects and people from images.

“We know that people do care about their memories, and we’re able to allow people to capture memories even more viscerally and realistically than ever before, having been able to improve upon the camera quality – not only the hardware specs but the software that powers it,” Mr Sarma, a senior product manager, told the PA news agency.

“And I think features like Magic Eraser are really able to continue to help users really focus on what matters by removing those distractions and really keeping the focus on what you care about.

“So it’s a suite of things that help us to build towards the better capture and reminiscing of those memories. We find that that’s one of the most important use cases for our users.”

Smartphone photography has advanced enough in recent years for the devices to be used in professional settings by photographers and videographers instead of dedicated digital cameras.

Greater processing power and advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning mean complex and power-consuming editing features that were once only available on powerful PCs can be used on a smartphone.

Mr Sarma said this is exciting for casual photographers and smartphone users.

“Certainly the field is advancing extremely rapidly, and with every new innovation comes a new opportunity for us,” he said, adding that the challenge for Google is to streamline complex technical photo and editing tools to “bring it down and make it practical for an everyday user”.

He said the aim of its camera tools is to provide “great, automatic results” while also supporting the “creative angle”.

“It’s a multi-year journey,” he said. “Every year we’re trying to get better.”

Google will launch its next flagship smartphone range, the Pixel 7, later this year, with more updates to the camera systems expected.

However, Mr Sarma would not be drawn on what to expect.

“There are so many different angles that we’re pursuing, so I would ask you to stay tuned,” he said, adding the company is “being open-minded right now” and “looking towards where the most impact could be had in the future”.

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