Upcoming Pixel 2 update aims to make your Instagram and Snapchat pics even better

Google will now make the phone's custom-made image processing unit accessible to third-party apps.

Lynn La Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones
Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.
Lynn La

Though it has other features like water resistance and its Google Lens software, the Pixel 2 phone is primarily known for its superb camera.

That's because the device is equipped with a custom-made image processing unit (IPU) known as Pixel Visual Core, which will now be accessible to third-party apps like Instagram , Snapchat and WhatsApp with an upcoming update.

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Turning on the Pixel 2's HDR+ mode (left) and HDR+ enhanced mode (right). 

Lynn La/CNET

The Pixel Visual Core features eight cores that were specially designed by Google. It enables camera features like HDR+, a more enhanced version of HDR that uses a varying number of exposures to generate a single photo. This is especially useful for scenes that have various and tricky lighting situations and you want to capture an evenly exposed photo.

Since its initial launch, HDR+ was only available on the Pixel 2's native camera app. But with this update that Google will roll out in the next few days, the IPU will be freed up for other apps that use the camera.

In addition to this update, Google will roll out more augmented reality stickers later in the week, themed around winter sports. Its first AR sticker pack included characters from the Netflix show "Stranger Things."

For more information about the phone, check out CNET's Google Pixel 2 review.

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