Google on Video Boost, improving on-device video, and ‘Pixel 9’


The latest Made by Google Podcast episode talks about the Video Boost and Night Sight Video feature introduced with the Pixel 8 Pro in December.

The goal is to “unlock the best video quality ever that you’ve seen on a smartphone,” and Google says it’s “just starting on Pixel 8 Pro to do that for our users.” Hopefully, the implication is that it eventually won’t be limited to just the “Pro” model. Compared to the original Night Sight launch, I wouldn’t say the video version has taken the world by storm, but that could come down to availability.

In starting this project, low-light video was identified as something end users wanted improvements on. As such, “Night Sight was top-of-our list of something we wanted to try to apply to video.”

The cloud nature of Video Boost means that Google can “process [frames] in a less constrained fashion.” Overall, that kind of “compute power doesn’t exist on smartphones today.”

“So we can decide how many frames that we want to align and merge, and how are we going to merge them. We can even take this to another level. We can even do much better. We can even run more complex algorithms simultaneously. For example, we can run deblurring. We can run stabilization. We can run color correction.”

One big problem Google had to solve is “temporal consistency,” and making sure there were no color shifts or “random flickering of brightness” over the course of a video that would be jarring to watchers.

Meanwhile, there was a reminder about what Video Boost does in daylight, including HDR+ processing, providing an “extra punch of color,” more contrast and details, and stabilization.

It remains interesting to me that Google is marketing “Video Boost” more than “Night Sight Video,” even after the acknowledgement that low-light videography is the big focus and what Pixel owners want.

Looking ahead, Google says it still wants to improve on-device video quality and performance every year:

“So the same thing, as the technologies evolve, as the on-device capability evolves, we’re definitely going to see more and more technologies and use cases landing in the on-device video. So that’s very top of mind for us.”

Finally, there was a brief “Pixel 9” mention in the context of how the team is “working on new features and feature upgrades for Pixel 9.” There’s no surprise on the first half of that naming, while it remains to be seen what mix of “Pro” and “XL” will ultimately be used.

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