I was transfixed by Google’s Pixel 4 launch presentation, which featured an incredible lecture on smartphone photography by distinguished engineer Marc Levoy. Unfortunately, this event is where it all went south for Pixel, both as a brand and technologically.
How instrumental was Levoy in making Pixel the best smartphone platform for photography? Well, he led the Google Research teams that created computational photography wins like HDR+, Portrait Mode (which somehow created background blur with a single lens), and Night Sight, among other accomplishments. These are technologies that competitors later raced to duplicate, often taking years to rise to the quality that Pixel had previously achieved.