If you own a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, and if you take a lot of pictures through apps like Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp, or Snapchat, then you’ll see a marked improvement today. A hidden feature on Pixel 2 phones is officially live that will enable HDR+, giving you much better photos when the lighting is uneven.
When Google shipped the Pixel 2, it had a feature hidden in it called Visual Core. That feature can get a bit technical, but you can read about it at How-To Geek here if you’re curious how it works. The short version is that it adds a special version of High Dynamic Range to the camera, which helps balance the lighting in an image. As you can see in the image above, the picture on the left is shadowy and dark because the light of the sun is blowing out the subject’s face. However, with Visual Core enabled on the right, the picture looks much more balanced and the subject is much brighter without blowing out the sky or other bright elements of the photo.
This feature has been enabled in the default camera app for a while, but the whole point of Visual Core is letting other apps that use the camera join the party. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Whatsapp are the first to add this to their apps. That means the next time you open up Instagram to take a picture—instead of taking a picture with the camera app first and sending it to Instagram later—HDR+ will be available. It’s a small change, but if it saves you a couple extra steps and makes your pictures look better, we’re on board.