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Google could soon upgrade one of Pixel 8's best AI camera features

The feature could be a convergence of the Best Take feature with the Top Shot feature.
By
December 5, 2023
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Rita El Khoury / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Code within the Pixel Camera app suggests that Google could be bringing a new feature to the Pixel 8, possibly by merging the functionality of Best Take with Top Shot.
  • We also learn that Video Boost cannot work if you have Locked Folder enabled on Google Photos, and it only works on videos up to a certain length.

The Google Pixel 8 features many Pixel-exclusive smart features, one of which is Best Take. Best Take takes multiple successive photos of groups, locates the perfect faces for each person in these photos, and merges them into one image to create the perfect group photo where everyone looks their best. While the feature is scarily impressive by itself, Google appears to be at work already to upgrade the feature, allowing the phone to get the best faces from a motion photo.

An APK teardown helps predict features that may arrive on a service in the future based on work-in-progress code. However, it is possible that such predicted features may not make it to a public release.

The latest Pixel Camera v9.2 update includes new strings that mention a cryptic new feature:

<string name="fondue_topshot_name">Fondue Topshot</string>
<string name="fondue_topshot_name_description">Fondue Topshot. Please do not share. See go/pixel-photo-sharing.</string>

As per these strings, Google is working on a new feature cryptically called “Fondue Topshot.” The description urges not to share the string, although the link supplied is incorrect. Even parsing it to g.co/pixel-photo-sharing leads to an invalid page. So, there is no further information on the feature within the Pixel Camera app.

To piece together what this feature is, we must turn our attention to the Google Photos app, which contains several strings for “Fondue.” Some of the strings are reproduced below:

<string name="photos_photoeditor_fondue_tool_label">Best Take</string>
<string name="photos_photoeditor_fondue_loading_text">Finding similar shots to improve photo</string>
<string name="photos_photoeditor_fondue_error_editing_failed">Some edits are not available. Please select an image where faces are clearly visible.</string>

These strings from Google Photos establish that “Fondue” is the dev codename for the Best Take feature. The strings from the Pixel Camera app indicate that Google could be working on a feature that brings together Best Take with Top Shot.

How would that work out, though?

We know that Top Shot lets you choose alternate shots from a Motion Photo. A Motion Photo, in turn, is a short silent video that captures the moments shortly before and after a photo is taken.

We speculate that adding Fondue, aka Best Take, to the mix would be similar to using Motion Photos to choose the photo instances with good facial expressions of individuals and then combining a few of these to create the best possible group photo. In short, it could use a single Motion Photo video as a base (instead of multiple still images) to extract the best facial expressions of various people.

This would be a good upgrade to the Best Take function, as you wouldn’t have to take multiple photos or a burst of shots anymore. Motion Photos is more convenient, as it automatically records the video when you have the feature enabled.


In addition to the above, the new Pixel Camera app also highlights some limitations of the Pixel 8 Pro’s upcoming Video Boost feature:

<string name="sapphire_turn_off_locked_folder_dialog_body">To boost a video, Locked Folder needs to be turned off.</string>
<string name="sapphire_turn_off_locked_folder_dialog_title">Turn off Locked Folder?</string>

If you use the Locked Folder functionality in Google Photos, then Video Boost may not work. Google will prompt you to turn off the Locked Folder to boost a video.

Further:

<string name="p11_photos_backup_desc">To get boosted, videos are limited to a certain length and backed up in Google Photos. <a href="https://support.google.com/googlecamera?p=video_boost">Learn more</a></string>

As per this string, Video Boost is available for videos only up to a certain length. Unfortunately, we could not locate the exact length of the cutoff. So, we will have to wait for the feature to roll out to learn more.