Pixel 2’s Custom Imaging Co-Processor Now Open to All Apps

Posted on February 5, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Android, Google, Hardware with 6 Comments

Google included a secret imaging co-processor, dubbed Visual Core, on the 2nd generation of Pixel devices. The company introduced the new co-processor for its Pixel handsets almost half a month after the initial launch. Just a few months ago, Google started enabling the co-processor on its devices, allowing for improved HDR+ on the default camera app.

Today, Google is opening up Visual Core to all apps. This means third-party apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and others will be able to utilize the power of the co-processor in order to take better quality pictures while saving power. Google says Instagram, WhatsApp, and Snapchat will start using Visual Core on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL starting today. It’s also being opened up to all third-party developers — so if you build an app that uses the camera, you can start using the co-processor on your app, too.

This is the first time Google has packed a co-processor on its smartphones, which is mainly the reason behind the slow, phased rollout mentioned earlier. “We wanted to make sure it rolls out cleanly and nicely. We wanted to work with our partners and not surprise them. We wanted to make sure we improved on all aspects — not only image quality, but performance and power. That’s why we only launched Pixel Visual Core in developer options back in November, and now we’re continually improving. We want to make sure that our phone keeps on improving with time,” a Google engineer explained to TechCrunch

Visual Core is likely the beginning of something new on Google’s flagship smartphones. As an increasing number of companies look to build co-processors for on-device machine learning, we’ll start to see a lot of such processors that offload some of the intensive tasks from the primary processor for better performance, and privacy. In other words, Visual Core seems a lot like an experiment for the future.

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Comments (6)

6 responses to “Pixel 2’s Custom Imaging Co-Processor Now Open to All Apps”

  1. Nicholas Kathrein

    I'm happy to have it in my Pixel 2 XL. I'm sure Google will keep continuing to try to offload things to that core whenever possible. I'd bet they'll try to improve that co-processor yearly. It's one of the edges with the Pixel 2 and 2XL that they don't seem to get credit for along with the monthly security patches and constant OS updates.

  2. wshwe

    Glad I have a Pixel 2.

  3. dcdevito

    I own a Pixel 2 XL, but I feel the Visual Core is all vaporware

  4. cjhawkins3rd

    How can I tell if a third party is utilizing the Visual Core. I used Lightroom to take photo's in raw in IOS, but I have found that the standard camera mode using the google software seems to be better on the Pixel 2 XL. Am I right? Will Adobe adopt the Visual Core? Is this all smoke and mirrors?

  5. Chris_Kez

    Hi Mehedi, just an update on this from Google (per Ron Amadeo): "Google sent along a note saying the Pixel Visual Core is actually not used by the Google camera app. So this third-party usage is the first time it's been put to use by any piece of software."

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