Google Pixel 4a, Pixel 5 Turn Off Selfie Filters for Digital Wellbeing


Google Camera app for the Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, and the Pixel 5 will not enable face retouching options by default, the company said. The latest change has come from the design principles that Google has brought through its expanded Digital Wellbeing initiative, which has started covering the way selfie cameras behave. Google also updated the Camera specifically for the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 with a list of features, including Cinematic Pan, Night Sight in Portrait Mode, Portrait Light, and support for the built-in ultrawide lens.

Back in May 2018, Digital Wellbeing was launched with an aim to help people balance the usage of their phones. It was initially a part of Google Pixel phones, though the programme reached several Android devices over the past several months. Google has now expanded that initiative with the guidelines informing how selfie cameras should work.

“We conducted multiple studies and spoke with child and mental health experts from around the world, and found that when you’re not aware that a camera or photo app has applied a filter, the photos can negatively impact mental wellbeing,” Google Product Manager Vinit Modi said in a blog post. “These default filters can quietly set a beauty standard that some people compare themselves against.”

Google has created a framework with guidelines suggesting that face retouching settings should be off by default. However, if a manufacturer is opting to go the other way and wants to enable selfie filters, the company said that it should be clearly indicated in the product experience.

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Google Camera app indicates the changes come from face retouching  


“We’ve steered away from references to ‘beauty,’ by using iconography and language that is value-neutral, so you can decide what retouching means to you,” Modi said.

As a result, Google is turning off the face retouching options by default on the Camera app available preloaded on the Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, and Pixel 5. The value-free, descriptive icons and labels for face retouching options will also be a part of an upcoming update. Google will also show more information about how each setting is applied and what changes it makes to your image if you choose to use face retouching effects.

In addition to the default Camera app, Google highlighted that Snapchat in its camera experience is one of the few apps available in the market that has provided selfie filters as an opt-in feature.

“Our partners have shared customer feedback that echoes what we heard in our research, and we’ve shared our insights and design framework with them as they continue to find ways to update their product experiences as well,” Modi said in the blog post.

In addition, Google highlighted the list of features that are initially available on the newly launched Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5. These include the Cinematic Pan that is claimed to bring an “ultra-smooth panning” experience, which is inspired by the equipment used by Hollywood directors.

Google has also provided Locked and Active stabilisation modes in addition to the Standard Stabilisation and the new Cinematic Pan. The Locked stabilisation is designed for capturing stable faraway still shots, while the Active mode is specifically for capturing heavy movement.

The Google Camera app available on Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 also comes with the Night Sight feature in Portrait Mode that lets you capture your favourite subjects with blurred backgrounds in portraits even in extremely low light. Further, there is the Portrait Light feature that lets you capture portrait shots with a focus on your subject while its background will be faded into an artful blur.

Additionally, the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 come with the ultrawide lens alongside standard rear camera that supports Super Res Zoom. This essentially lets you capture sharp details in your shots no matter whether you’re zooming in or zooming out. The Camera app on the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 also automatically turns off notification vibrations when you open the Camera app to reduce the amount of jerks.

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Google Camera app comes with Super Res Zoom (right)


The Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 also comes with the updated Google Assistant integration that brings a ‘Hold for Me’ feature. Similarly, Google Photos has added a new editor with artificial intelligence (AI) backed suggestions and granular controls.

Google hasn’t confirmed whether the new features will be available to any devices other than the latest Pixel phones. However, if we look at the company’s history, you can expect some of them — if not all — to debut, at least, on earlier Pixel models.

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