Future Chromebooks could steal one of the Google Pixel 8’s best features – its camera

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Jan 17, 2024

If you’ve ever sat down on your Chromebook and wondered ‘Wouldn’t this be so much better with a rear camera?’ you’re in luck: Google might be planning to pinch the Super Res Zoom feature from Pixel phones and bring it to ChromeOS, improving the digital zoom capabilities of your device. 

Normally you’d only have your front camera for video calls and occasionally quirky selfies, with Google bumping up the camera quality, especially for the Chromebook Plus lineup. The Super Res Zoom feature isn’t particularly useful on a front-facing webcam – but there are ChromeOS devices that do feature an external camera, like the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5

Most people don’t tend to use the rear camera on devices that aren’t phones very often, if at all. You might look a bit out of place at a social gathering trying to create special memories by whipping out your Google Pixel Tablet and trying to take a photo (although we’ve all got that family member who insists on taking photos with an iPad). 

You also won’t be getting nearly the same level of photo quality as you would on a Pixel phone – nor the same wealth of features available on Google’s phone cameras. But the addition of Super Res Zoom could mean Google plans to change that. 

That’s great – but why? 

This news comes from 9to5Google, who spotted a change in code within the ChromeOS Camera app that may suggest the addition of digital zoom paired with ‘super-resolution’. It seems like the feature could be initially reserved for insiders and developers within a ChromeOS Dev channel, but despite being present in the code it has no noticeable effect as of yet. 

While it may not sound like a pretty significant change, it’s worth noting that ChromeOS cameras (including internal webcams) didn’t even have a basic digital zoom function – arguably a major omission that I’m actually surprised I’ve never noticed. Combined with the ‘super-resolution’ feature, this has huge potential for improving zoomed-in photo quality on ChromeOS devices. Well… those that actually have rear-facing cameras, anyway. 

That being said, how often are you really going to be using your Chrome tablet to take super-zoomed-in photos?  The idea of better camera quality is always nice, and the basic addition of digital zoom to ChromeOS cams will be a welcome one, but it does leave us scratching our heads and wondering – why?

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