Google’s Pixel Visual Core doesn’t actually work in the Pixel’s own camera app

Ever since it was revealed as Google’s hidden chip inside the Pixel 2, the Pixel Visual Core has been clad in a little bit of mystery. Google hasn’t helped matters in its communications, and until recently it seemed like the Visual Core would aid the main camera app — by making the company’s signature HDR+ image processing faster and more efficient — as well as third-party apps like Instagram and Snapchat. As it turns out, however, the Pixel Visual Core is, for now at least, only used in helping other apps gain the HDR+ functionality.

This became clear as Google announced that it was activating the Visual Core this week, noting that the beneficiaries of the change would be any third-party apps that use the Pixel’s camera. The reason why Google isn’t making use of its dedicated image-processing accelerator inside its own app has been revealed in a November interview by the Pixel camera team: they’ve done a lot of custom optimizations already, and the Visual Core just isn’t necessary.

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