Since the Pixel 4 arrived, Google’s smartphone line has offered an ‘astrophotography‘ feature that leverages machine learning techniques and computational photography to take pictures of the night sky. With the launch of the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G in 2020, the new ultra-wide camera hardware enabled Pixel owners to take wider images of the night sky. However, it appears Google has since removed that capability.
Google explained that in case you aren’t aware, the ‘Astrophotography’ feature lets you take night shots of the sky, using the Night Sight tab in Google camera. You can keep the Pixel phone still using a tripod or resting it against a stable surface. Once the camera detects no movement, it shows a message on top of the screen stating “Astrophotography on” and the shutter button changes from a moon icon to stars.
It remains unclear why Google chose to restrict the feature, especially given that it was available and worked before. Perhaps there was some kind of issue with the feature and this is a temporary measure while Google fixes it. However, given the updated support documents, I think this may be more than just a temporary measure.