One of the features of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL that didn’t leak before the phones’ official unveiling was their custom imaging chip: The Pixel Visual Core. The custom-designed eight-core chip, which can crunch a whopping 3 trillion operations per second, accelerates the processing of Google’s HDR+ mode while prolonging battery life. (Google says it consumes 1/10th of the energy compared to the Pixel 2’s Snapdragon 835 cores.) It wasn’t enabled when the two phones shipped, but Google flipped the switch earlier this month. And today, the search giant pushed out a new app to the Play Store — the Pixel Visual Core Service — that updates them.
According to the Google Play Store description of the Pixel Visual Core Service, the app’s responsible for upgrading the “image processing and machine learning algorithms for Pixel 2 phones”. In typical Google fashion, there isn’t a changelog — it’s the app’s initial release on the Play Store (the first carried the version number 1.0.166778097, and the new one is 1.0.185741828). Screenshots show that the application was updated on February 15, and that it weighs in at just 109KB.
We know that Google worked with some third-party applications including Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, and others to speed up image processing, enable Zero Shutter Lag (ZSL), and power features like digital zoom enhanced with RAISR technologies with the Visual Pixel Core. It’s possible that the update has to do with squashing some bugs with one or more of these applications.
Google has spun out a lot of apps and services from firmware to the Google Play Store. It’s a great strategy: You don’t have to wait for a new over-the-air update with bug fixes, new features, and other changes. Google isn’t the only one — other OEMs such as Motorola, OnePlus, and others are doing the same thing.
If you’re the proud owner of a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, keep your eye out for the update.