At this week’s Google I/O, Android VP Sameer Samat announced some major changes in the camera app. Apparently, Google is working to make its Android camera more versatile, more inclusive, and more flattering to darker skin tones and different hair types.
“Pictures are deeply personal and play an important role in shaping how people see you and how you see yourself,” Google writes. “But historical biases in the medium of photography have carried through to some of today’s camera technologies, leading to tools that haven’t seen people of color as they want and ought to be seen.”
Samat said that, as the world’s largest OS, Android has a responsibility to build for everyone. “As part of our ongoing commitment to product inclusion, we’re working to make technology more accessible and equitable,” he added.
So, what can we expect from Google phone cameras in the future? Put simply, it will feature smarter camera software. It will reduce stray lights in a photo and produce more natural brown skin tones. In addition, it should be able to detect different hairstyles more effectively.
Photographers know that lighting someone in a flattering matter depends on several factors, with their skin tone being one of them. Director of photography, Ava Berkofsky, gives some great tips for lighting dark skin actors. But while we as humans can control the lighting, phone camera software has repeatedly failed to properly capture dark skin. And this is where Google’s new software steps in.
Samat says that we can expect these camera improvements this fall in Google Pixel devices. But hopefully, it will inspire other manufacturers to do the same. Google is reportedly committed to sharing the tech with the entire Android ecosystem, so I hope we’ll see the same improvements in other cameras as well.