Google Pixel's former camera guru to work on photography apps for Adobe

The move comes as Google has shaken up its smartphone team.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva

Google's camera software pioneer is heading to Adobe.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The mastermind behind the Google Pixel's camera is heading to Adobe to work on a "universal camera app" for the software giant, Adobe said Monday.

Marc Levoy, who built Google's smartphone software into a leader in mobile photography, pioneered several camera features for the device, even as the phones struggled to gain traction with consumers. Levoy led Google's research team in creating Portrait Mode, which glams up smartphone photos to make them look professionally done, and Night Sight, for brightening up pictures in low light. 

Levoy, who left Google in March, is known as a trailblazer in "computational photography," which relies on software to improve images. Many of the features he built for the search giant have ended up on competing devices, like Apple's iPhone. 

The announcement comes as Google has shaken up its Pixel team. Mario Queiroz, the former head of the Pixel division, departed the company earlier this year, after leaving the smartphone team last year. Sales of Google's flagship smartphone have been lackluster in previous years, a slump Google executives have blamed on competition in a premium phone market dominated by Apple and Samsung.

Google's newest smartphone, a mid-tier device called the Pixel 4A, is expected in coming weeks after apparent delays. 

Google didn't respond to a request for comment. 

At Adobe, Levoy will focus on photography initiatives across the company, including Photoshop Camera and Adobe Research.