Happy Tuesday! Here’s your daily tech digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Tuesday, April 2, 2019!
1. Low-light is now a highlight for (some) smartphone cameras
One of the major advances of the Google Pixel 3 launch was its Night Sight mode, offering a step-change improvement in very low-light camera quality.
- Google rolled out that technology to its other Pixel phones, including the Pixel 2 and even the original Pixel as well, implying software advances rather than needing new hardware.
- Developers and hackers have ported the Google Camera app (XDA), as we’ve mentioned before.
- This dramatically improves night and very low light photos using Night Sight on some devices like OnePlus, Motorola, Xiaomi, and others, although the quality isn’t as good as the Pixel
- That’s no great surprise given how Google calibrate and optimization for the Pixel.
But Huawei’s P30 Pro appears to be taking another major step forward with very low light photography, this time combining software and hardware, as you’ll see:
It also doesn’t require the long exposure required by Google’s Night Sight Mode, shaving a number of seconds off the total time to take a very low-light shot.
What’s happening here?
- Android Authority’s Bogdan Petrovan described Huawei’s Night Mode as “insanely capable,” with usable shots in almost complete darkness.
- Other phones would spit out a black image, and even compared to the Pixel’s Night Sight setup, looks like a clear winner.
- The trick is the P30 Pro using a new type of image sensor filter pattern in smartphones.
- To get technical, rather than the red, green, green, blue (RGGB) Bayer Pattern filter array that we usually see over camera sensors, the P30 Pro uses a red, yellow, yellow, blue (RYYB) filter pattern. And a slightly wider f/1.6 aperture, to let in more light.
- I asked AA’s lead technical writer, Robert Triggs, to explain further why Huawei made this choice, and what compromises this brings in:
- “In the RYB setup, the yellow pixel captures more light data, so the P30 Pro can offer that much better low light performance,” wrote Rob.
- “The trade-off is that you don’t have a green pixel, so you have to do some fancy math to extract the green color info from the yellow. In some situations, the algorithm might over recover the green info.”
- In short: you sacrifice a small amount of color accuracy and distortion in exchange for more light information.
- Rob has explained further in this post: Huawei P30 cameras: All the new tech explained, touching on all the technical details.
- All of this creates a problem for Samsung and Apple: the latest Samsung S10 devices can’t compete, and the iPhone is a mile back as well.
- It may be that Google and even Apple can outdo Huawei with their coming devices later this year as well, but for now, the P30 Pro has a big lead.
2. Nokia X71 announced with punch hole display, triple rear cameras (Android Authority).
3. Google Pixel 3 revisited: What’s held up and what hasn’t after five months (AA).
4. Why Xiaomi phones have ads, or the tricky business of balancing ads and usability (AA).
5. Inside the Google employee backlash against the Heritage Foundation (The Verge).
6. Here’s great detail on how hard Apple tried to sign up The New York Times and WaPo to Apple News+ (Vanity Fair).
7. Cloudflare’s Warp is a new mobile-only VPN for its 126.96.36.199 service that might actually make your mobile connection better (TechCrunch).
8. Firefox is cracking down on browser notifications (Mozilla).
9. Researchers trick Tesla Autopilot into steering into oncoming traffic, using stickers (Ars Technica).
10. Also, wrecked Teslas are full of sensitive data (Jalopnik).
11. NASA chief labels Indian anti-satellite missile test a ‘terrible, terrible thing‘ because space debris aren’t great (CNET).
12. Why “The Matrix” built a bullet-proof legacy, a book excerpt from: “BEST. MOVIE. YEAR. EVER: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen,” by Brian Raftery (Wired).
13. What’s an item everyone should have? (r/askreddit)
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