Enable the Pixel Visual Core’s HDR+ feature on Google Pixel 2 XL

Google’s new Pixel Visual Core co-processor hasn’t made anything special on the Pixel 2 XL handset since launch, but things are changing with the Android 8.1 Developer Preview 2 release. Even if the Pixel Visual Core’s HDR+ feature isn’t enabled by default on the phones, turning it on becomes possible now.

I know what you must be thinking of, yet you will discover that Pixel Visual Core isn’t actually in the Camera app itself but rather the Developer options. This won’t be an issue for you if you’re running beta software on your phone. However, in order to access the switch, you must first enable Developer Options on your phone. For that, you have to:

  • Go to Settings » System » About phone;
  • Scroll down to the bottom until you see Build number;
  • Now, start tapping the Build number about seven times or so, until you see the usual “You are now a developer!” message.

You should understand that enabling HAL HDR+ doesn’t change the photo quality from the built-in camera app — after all, it already has HDR+ on its own without utilizing the Pixel Visual Core. This basically means when you fire up something like Instagram or other apps with in-app camera needs, the photos you get directly out of those third-party apps will be closer to the quality you experience when taking photos with the built-in camera app. Who doesn’t want that?

How to enable the Pixel Visual Core’s HDR+ feature on Google Pixel 2 XL:

  1. Enter into the Settings menu;
  2. Scroll down and select System;
  3. Tap on Developer options;
  4. Make sure the Developer options is toggled on and scroll down until you find the Debugging subheading;
  5. At the bottom of this section, locate the Camera HAL HDR+ and toggle it on;
  6. Now, all that is left to do is reboot your phone.

After the feature is enabled, you may use a third-party camera app that makes use of the default Camera API and test the improved camera quality. And if you have any questions regarding Pixel Visual Core, let me know through the comments.