Google Camera 6.1 hints that a Time-lapse Mode may finally be coming

By | 19th October 2018
An early port of the Google Camera app is now available with Live Google Lens and Night Sight support.

The latest Google Pixel smartphone introduced a lot of innovative camera features—Top Shot, Super Res Zoom, and Motion Tracking Autofocus just to name a few—but one feature that’s still missing in the Google Camera app is a time-lapse mode. Time-lapses are a series of frames captured over a long period of time to show a change in scenery. Time-lapses are really popular but for some reason, the Google Camera app does not have a mode for creating one. That could finally change as the latest version of the Google Camera app that shipped with the Google Pixel 3 shows that Google has finally resumed working on the feature.

An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by Google in a future build.

I say that Google has “resumed” working on it because the camera app has actually contained a string hinting at a time-lapse mode for years now. In fact, we checked the camera app that shipped with the first-generation Google Pixel devices and found the placeholder string for the unreleased time-lapse mode. However, version 6.1.009.215420794 of the app which shipped with reviewers’ units of the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL actually has code related to the feature for the very first time. We checked older versions of the Google Camera app—version 5.1, 5.2, 5.3 and version 6.0 which shipped on retail units of the Pixel 3—and could not find this smali code. Thus, we believe that software development on the new mode began fairly recently.

Google Camera Time-lapse mode Google Camera Time-lapse mode Google Camera Time-lapse mode Google Camera Time-lapse mode

Screenshots showing the in-development time-lapse mode, code-named “cheetah.” The code was decompiled using PNF Software’s JEB Decompiler.

XDA Senior Member cstark27, notable for his work on modding the Google Camera app, first tipped us off about the progression of development on the time-lapse feature and gave us a screenshot showing that a placeholder icon can be forced to be shown in the latest version of the app. Note that the feature does not currently work and that the icon shown below is a placeholder.

Google Camera 6.1We don’t know if time-lapse mode will ever be released, and just because Google has resumed work on it in the latest version doesn’t mean that it’ll be available anytime soon. Google has had a placeholder string for the time-lapse mode for well over 2 years now, so who knows when the Pixel smartphones will get the feature in the native Google Camera app.

As for the other Pixel camera features, modders are hard at work to bring the latest Pixel 3 camera features to other devices. One mod brings a semi-functional Night Sight and Google Lens Suggestions to the OnePlus 6, but there are other mods floating around on the net that work on more devices. Once we find a version that’s stable enough for a variety of devices, we’ll let you all know.