Without a doubt, the best feature of Google’s new Pixel lineup is the camera. (Sorry, Google Assistant!) If you’re itching to try out the new camera app before the flagship phones come out, now you can — just as long as you have a compatible Nexus device.
The ever-helpful developers at XDA managed to extract the Pixel’s Google Camera 4.2 software and port it over to non-Pixel phones. This being a modified app, it won’t overlap your Nexus’ default camera, so no need to worry about messing things up.
Of course, there’s a catch. As of now, this trick only works on the Nexus 6P and 5X, because they meet three important criteria: Both are 64-bit smartphones, have access to an official Android 7.0 Nougat build, and are dead to Google. Fortunately, there’s no need to root your device.
All you have to do is download the APK file, permit Android to install from unknown sources (found under Settings > Security), and let the installer do its work. Be warned: You might accidentally miss the app when you open up your app drawer, since the icon looks like a duplicate of the default camera’s.
New features include long-pressing to lock the exposure and focus point, sliding to manually adjust exposure, and updated composition grid options. Might not seem that special, but they help tremendously when the camera gets confused in terrible lighting conditions, even during video recording.
We tried it out ourselves on a Nexus 6P, and the exposure control works wonders in situations like the one above. Raising the level by 1.0 brightened up the tricky subject.
While this won’t magically turn your Nexus into a better shooter, it’s always nice to have shiny new software. If you can wait, it’ll come with version 7.1 of Android once it starts rolling out, whenever that may be.
Let’s hope more Pixel goodies come to other handsets soon, especially the neglected Android One series.